Demand for delivery drivers skyrockets amid COVID-19, service crucial to SoCal during 'Stay Home' order

With longer days and 'several hundred' more packages daily, a 30-year delivery driver in Long Beach shows ABC7 the new normal during the coronavirus emergency.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- With so many people staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic, Southern California residents are relying on home delivery to get them through. But when it comes to UPS drivers FedEx drivers, they're working overtime to make sure residents get the supplies they need.

UPS delivery driver Steven Lopez geared up for another long day of deliveries in Long Beach. With his gloves on and mask secured, he prepared for the 11-12 hours ahead of him.

Since most Californians have stopped leaving their homes, his job, to deliver essential items is more crucial than ever before.

"It is really, really busy at UPS. We're very proud to be doing what we're doing. It's kind of a mini peak, a Christmas peak, where the residential volume is probably five times what it would be on a normal spring day, like we're having now," said Lopez.

Lopez is now delivering several hundred more packages per shift. Having served this route for more than 30 years, he knows the families and business owners by name, but he hasn't seen their familiar faces in weeks.

Because "contactless delivery" is one-way, delivery services are ensuring physical distancing. Each UPS driver is equipped with personal protective equipment and disinfectant to wipe down their trucks throughout the day.
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FedEx, Amazon, and the United States Postal Service all report increased demand in the midst of this pandemic. Americans are ordering items for themselves and sending more packages to loved ones.

"Also, I've noticed a lot lately there are a lot of care packages. Care packages mostly going to elderly people. And the way I can tell that is on the packages it will have a handwritten note saying, 'take care grandma, take care auntie,'" Lopez said.

Lopez is not a health care professional or first responder, but he and other delivery drivers have a critical job to do -- bringing Californians the items they can no longer get themselves.

Accustomed to thanking police officers, he's found that they are now thanking him.

"When they see me pull up, they'll roll down their window and they'll say, 'Hey Steve, hey UPS man,' and give me the thumbs up and say, 'be safe and stay healthy, we appreciate what you're doing,' so I feel appreciated," Lopez said.

Heading home for the day, he will get some rest, wake up, and do it all again.
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