On a typical weekday morning, Uber and Lyft driver Michael Kockelman would have picked up five to six riders and taken them to work, school, an appointment or the airport.
But Monday was anything but typical. By 9:30 a.m., he'd only had one request for a ride.
"Nobody is going anywhere. It's like a ghost town," said the Shakopee resident, who drives full time for both ride-share companies during the winter. "We should be killing it."
In an effort to slow the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, schools have closed, employees are working remotely and air travel has dwindled during the usually busy spring break period.
Kockelman fears the disruption of the gig economy presents a serious challenge to his income, which he estimates to be $950 to $1,150 weekly.
"We [drivers] are in a tough spot," he said. "We are scared out of our wits."
Muhammad Murtaza of Burnsville said he's stopped driving for the ride-share services. He has two children and fears he might get sick and pass it onto them if an infected passenger gets in his car.
"It's too risky," he said.
Uber this week changed its sick-leave policy and will no longer require sick drivers to test positive for COVID-19 before being paid. Uber said it will calculate sick pay based on the driver's average daily pay for the previous six months, with drivers eligible to receive up to 14 days of pay.
A Lyft spokeswoman said it continues to monitor the situation and is "taking action based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our focus is on keeping our drivers, riders and team members safe."
A sudden drop in ridership could be devastating for drivers. A 2018 survey by IDG Benefits Fund found that 85% of drivers in New York City struggle to make monthly payments such as rent, utilities, car payments and other bills. And 70% would run out of money if they were unable to drive due to car trouble or illness.
Some drivers said they plan to augment their income by making deliveries for Door Dash and Instacart.