Sheboygan trucker experiences pandemic from the road, keeps supply chain moving

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The empty shelves in our grocery stores and the pleading from officials to only shop for what you need has brought new focus to something that is always running in the background, America's supply chain.

That supply chain relies on truckers like Sheboygan-based John Vollrath who is experiencing the coronavirus pandemic from the road.

"I feel like a have a duty to do. I don't know what that it is but it feels like i got a job to do." said Vollrath from the cab of his truck which, at the time, was in Pennsylvania. "It's always been said that without trucks, America stops. In fact, the whole world will stop. But right now it's like wow, they actually need me."

Vollrath has been driving trucks for almost three decades. Suddenly, His profession, hauling mostly groceries all over the country in a 53-foot refrigerated trailer and being a vital part of America's supply chain, in the spotlight.

"Everything that you wear and eat and are sitting on, has been delivered by trucks." Vollrath said.

He's got a unique perspective. He sits high above the rest of us on the road behind the steering wheel in his cab. He says the world from his position has changed.

"It feels like right after 9/11." he said. "The traffic is significantly lower. 90% lower traffic than usual and most of it on the road is trucks."
Vollrath also has a unique perspective on something a lot of us may be experiencing for the first time, isolation.

"I've been doing this for 27 years, I'm pretty used to being alone in the truck." Vollrath said. "This is one of the reasons I started doing YouTube. For the company. It almost feels like I'm not really alone."

Vollrath's YouTube channel, JBG Travels, has more than 120,000 subscribers and is nearing 100-million views. He posts long cross-country rides talking about whatever is on his mind. Lately, it's the same thing that's on a lot of minds.

"We'll get through this, we'll get through this but it's going to take time." he said.

Vollrath lives in Sheboygan with his wife and kids but is on the road for weeks at a time. He says truck stops around the country remain open so he's able to eat and shower and do laundry but is taking every social distancing precaution he can while there.

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