It seems that facts about the coronavirus are changing every day. The information that medical professionals have about the virus so far leaves questions about how long the virus can remain viable on surfaces and about the potential risk to truckers moving freight inbound from China. As it relates to the trucking industry, this has serious implications regarding the ways personnel should handle freight. Questions remain like, should packages be held in isolation long enough for the virus to expire? Should shipping personnel and drivers take certain precautions? And more.
The chief economist for the global supply chain management company, Flexport, said there’s little evidence that shows the virus can remain viable on shipments crossing the ocean by boat. What’s more, the Coast Guard is permitting commercial vessels, which have been to China, to enter U.S. seaports providing no crews are sick. Crews on vessels coming from China are not allowed to leave their ships while at the port.
The coronavirus is expected to impact imports, with the pharmaceutical industry being just one of the many industries facing its impacts. U.S. pharma companies, for example, receive their APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) largely from the European Union, India, and China but the coronavirus is now turning this cost advantage method into increasing costs by limiting supplies coming into the U.S.
This is not only true with the pharmaceutical industry, but other industries sourcing overseas. In fact, according to Barron’s Magazine, only 30% of small business continued production in China since the outbreak. Furthermore, the US FDA has chosen to postpone pharmaceutical, food and medical device inspection in China for February, posing quality concerns.
The CDC says that what they know about the virus at this time indicates it is spreads almost exclusively through close person to person contact via airborne particles, just as the flu is most often spread. At the time of this writing, over 111,000 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported worldwide. Twenty-two cases have resulted in death in the U.S., plaguing over 30 states.
According to DHL’s Resilience360, Wuhan, China is a center for high tech components. Their report says authorities are continuing the lockdown on the city, which began in late January. The report warns that “severe interruptions to inbound and outbound air cargo shipments, trucking and rail cargo services, as well as heavy port congestion for vessels on the Yangtze River near Wuhan, are likely to continue as the coronavirus crisis unfolds.”
As it happens, the shutdown coincided with a week-long Chinese holiday, meaning any delays may be par for the course. According to DAT Solutions, this could indicate that any slowdown in shipments is not due to a medical lockdown but to normal disruptive festivities.
A DAT spokesperson said, “The effect on imports and spot truckload freight at West Coast ports depends on whether more steps are taken to curtail traffic from China. Current conditions make it seem likely that the lull in traffic at ports will last well into late March, which is slightly longer than usual.”
Here at Road Scholar Transport, your local trucking company, we are taking active measures to protect our drivers, staff, and customers from preventable contact with the coronavirus. Our entire Road Scholar team has been fully educated (and tested to insure comprehension!) on how to prevent the spread of airborne illnesses so we can continue to serve you, and your customers, instead of contending with sickness. We also fully support your initiatives to vet entrants onto your property for illness, and you can expect full cooperation from all of the Scholars!
Simply because we care about you and your families, our next 1,000 deliveries will arrive with a little something more than simply the product you ordered (and a readily identifiable Road Scholar, of course!) – We’re sending each dock a care package to help everyone keep the spread of germs down, and the good health stats up!
Last, but not least – when putting together our care packages, we realized that there is an actual shortage of hand sanitizer, so if you know any hand sanitizer shippers who need expedited deliveries to get those shelves re-stocked, let them know that we can do that too!
Contact us today.