[By David Meyer]
A Queens Uber driver passed away from the coronavirus Tuesday morning — more than two weeks after he stopped driving to avoid contracting the deadly disease, according to his family.
Anil Subba, a Nepalese immigrant in his 40s from Jackson Heights, died at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at Elmhurst Hospital, his family told The Post.
Subba checked into the hospital about two weeks ago, according to his cousin Munindra Nembang. He had been hooked up to a ventilator for about two days before he passed, with no contact with his wife and three children, ages 22, 20 and 11.
“We tried to phone him but nobody was allowed. The family members couldn’t talk to him” except by voicemail, Nembang said.
Nembang, an Uber driver as well, told The Post his cousin stopped driving for-hire during the first week of March — after transporting a sick passenger from JFK Airport to Westchester County.
“That was the last time. He got afraid and he stopped,” said Nembang, also of Queens.
He said his cousin’s family would struggle financially without him.
“He was the only one who was working. Because of him, his home was running,” Nembang said. “It is very hard for his family to survive now.”
Nembang said he knew of six or seven other members of the borough’s small Nepalese community — “most of them Uber drivers” — who had been hospitalized by COVID-19.
New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said drivers are anxious that close proximity to passengers puts them at higher risk for contracting the disease — particularly if they drive vehicles without front-seat partitions.
If for-hire vehicle drivers are in fact more likely to contract the virus, Desai suggested the Taxi and Limousine Commission should suspend app-based ride-hailing altogether, as Uber has already done in some cities in India.
“If there is a clear pattern here, the companies and the city need to suspend the service and let drivers know they are already covered for Unemployment [Insurance] in New York state,” Desai said in a statement. “Workers aren’t expendable. Put drivers first before profit and politics.”
The city and Uber did not immediately return requests for comment.