To read our current coronavirus coverage, click HERE.
GEP, a provider of procurement software and services, has launched a portal that connects suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) with healthcare providers and experts in the distribution of excess products, equipment and capacity.
The free platform is initially being aimed at hospitals and healthcare workers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. GEP has been providing details about PPE suppliers to the tri-state area’s major hospital networks since mid-March. The new portal represents an effort to scale up that offering, the company said.
GEP said it will also provide support to small businesses and manufacturers looking to repurpose their capabilities to meet "urgent demand" for PPE equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
The container-shipping industry experienced in March its first monthly drop in long-term contracted freight rates since October, 2019, according to Xeneta, provider of a rate-benchmarking platform.
The slight dip in rates of 0.5% followed a period of sustained growth, and is an early response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "Although these symptoms look mild, the future is characterized by growing uncertainty, with widespread economic disruption and looming global recession likely to impact on demand across all key trading routes," Xeneta said.
“On the face of it, the index is still performing well, up 5.8% year-on-year and with a 2.2% rise since the end of 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic is now causing disruption to trade and economic activity on an unprecedented scale," said Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund. "The container industry, operating on the front line of the global economy, is bracing itself to feel the full impact of that.”
Several major shipping lines and alliances have cancelled sailings as a result of factory shutdowns in China and elsewhere. “The magnitude of this can’t be overstated,” Berglund said. “The economic downturn and a widespread drop-off in consumer spending is unlikely to give way to rapid recovery. This creates a hugely challenging environment for carriers, who will need to ensure adequate measures are taken to prevent a sustained drop in rates."
Hardware wholesaler True Value Company has registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an over-the-counter drug manufacturer, so that it can produce hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company said it will convert space at a paint-manufacturing plant in Cary, Illinois to provide "tens of thousands of gallons" of hand sanitizer. The first several thousand gallons will be donated to True Value hardware stores across the country, to protect employees from contracting COVID-19 while on the job. The product is scheduled to be shipped to stores in early to mid-April.
True Value said it is also manufacturing essential cleaning and sanitizing products such as hand soap, all-purpose cleansers with and without bleach, and degreasing cleanser.
True Value supplies more than 4,500 independent hardware retail stores in the U.S.
Southwest Airlines will offer the first all-cargo flights in its 48-year history as passenger demand keeps sliding.
The flights will be offered on a charter basis, and only pilots and other needed crew members will be on board, Bloomberg reported. Southwest will confine freight to the bellies of its Boeing Co. 737 aircraft instead of converting planes for cargo.
Southwest is joining American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in offering cargo-only operations to help offset the decline in travel.
A group of hackers is using Kwampirs malware to attack supply-chain companies and healthcare organizations, according to an FBI-issued alert.
Reports say hackers are using popular videoconferencing platform Zoom to install the malware.
The sudden and massive growth in work-from-home operations has left many businesses vulnerable as employees connect their personal devices to company assets. Users should be cautious of emails and files received from unknown parties, said software company Check Point: “Beware of lookalike domains, spelling errors in emails and websites, and unfamiliar email senders.”
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 250 ambulances to New York City, staffed by 500 paramedics and medical technicians to help its fire department respond to an unprecedented number of medical calls, Bloomberg reported.
Fire department rescue personnel report a 50% increase over normal daily call volume, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said in a statement. The ambulances will help respond to that surge of calls and assist in transporting patients from hospitals, which will be turned into intensive-care COVID-19 treatment centers, to other temporary medical facilities such as the USNS Comfort hospital ship docked in the Hudson River, the Javits Convention Center and the National Tennis Center in Queens, which will handle patients needing non-coronavirus-related treatment.
Several underwear and T-shirt factories, including HanesBrands, are working with the White House to supply masks for hospitals.
The federal government will reimburse companies for their costs and distribute what they produce, says President Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro. HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will buy the masks and distribute them to medical organizations immediately or use them to replenish the government's stockpile.
Some companies are getting in the act on their own, not as part of the White House initiative. In New York, Ralph Lauren Corp. has pledged to work with U.S. factories to produce 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns.
Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) has launched an information center to help healthcare organizations access the data and information needed to treat patients and protect staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 Information Center includes a Critical Supply Reference List, developed by GHX in reference to McKinsey & Company’s report, COVID-19 Crisis: US Healthcare Provider and Payer Preparedness. The list will help providers identify supplies and alternatives, as well as give suppliers greater visibility into the fluctuating demand for products, GHX said.
The list includes categories such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), Medical Equipment, Disinfection Consumables/Biohazardous Waste Management, and Drugs/Medical Consumables.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide
The new Small Business Guide details the steps that small businesses should be taking to request loans needed to keep their workers on the payroll. Further guides will be developed as the CARES Act becomes implemented, the Chamber said.
In addition, the Chamber has compiled an interactive map to show available aid on a state-by-state basis.
Urgent demand for medical equipment to fight the coronavirus has sent the cost of chartering aircraft skyrocketing and turned a typically humdrum process into an ultra-competitive auction, Bloomberg reported.
“Chartered prices have been pushed up from less than $300,000 four to six weeks back to $600,000 to $800,000 in the last few days,” said Anthony Lau, chairman and founder of logistics company Pacific Air (HK) Ltd. “It is absolutely crazy.”
Usually, it would cost $300,000 to charter a Boeing Co. 747 or 777 from Hong Kong to Europe in non-peak season, Lau said. “The price is changing by the hour. We have never, ever experienced this.”
An unprecedented collapse in passenger demand is prompting airlines to use their fleets to transport more cargo, including medicines. The likes of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Korean Air Lines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. are hauling a greater amount of goods in the bellies of their passenger planes to keep up with demand. Cargo rates have risen over 10% in recent weeks.
Ceva Logistics has declared force majeure, citing disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.
The declaration allows Switzerland-based Ceva to modify its services, change working procedures and rates, levy surcharges and otherwise “take any measures necessary to adjust its business operations and its obligations to its customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, in response to the prevailing circumstances,” the provider said in a statement.
Ceva is not the first logistics company to invoke the extreme provision of force majeure. DHL Global Forwarding declared it March 20.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says it will advance more than $50 million to small- and mid-sized suppliers to ensure there are no disruptions in its supply chain. The defense titan is also offering up its fleet and facilities for relief and response efforts, according to a report in The Motley Fool.
The company will donate use of its corporate aircraft and vehicle fleet for medical supply delivery and logistical support, CEO Marillyn Hewson said in a statement, as well as use of its facilities for crisis-related activities including medical supply storage, distribution and COVID-19 testing — where needed and practical.
The Pentagon’s logistics agency has modified an existing contract and will spend $84.4 million to buy 8,000 ventilators from four vendors, with delivery of an initial 1,400 by early May, according to Bloomberg.
The companies tapped to make the devices are Zoll Medical Corp., Combat Medical Systems LLC, Hamilton Medical Inc., and VyAire Medical Inc.
“This will be a time-phased delivery over the next several months and we expect orders to begin shipment within the next few days” with delivery locations to be determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said in a statement.
Smiths Group said it is contracting with the U.K. government to produce ventilators needed to treat critically ill coronavirus patients. The company plans to increase production to thousands of units a month from hundreds, Bloomberg reported.
Dyson announced last week it had developed a new ventilator and received an order from Britain for 10,000 units — but the government later said its purchase would depend on regulators approving the device.
The global supply chain, especially for medical products, is "breaking" under the strain of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a professor at West Virginia University.
“The new pandemic has stressed supply chains worldwide and we are seeing shutdowns unheard of in modern peacetime history," said Ednilson Bernardes, program coordinator of the Global Supply Chain Management Program at WVU's John Chambers College of Business and Economics.
Of particular concern is the flow of critical medical supplies. “I would say that the design of the new U.S. medical supply chain is exceedingly fragile," Bernardes said, citing the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment, especially N95 respirators. He predicted increased scarcity of such materials, resulting in "further disruptions in the chain of medical supplies."
Reasons for the shortage include the application over the years of "Lean" principles to U.S. supply chains, minimizing safety stocks, and the concentration of sourcing in a handful of countries. Citing FDA statistics, Bernardes noted that more than 80% of manufacturing facilities that produce components for American drugs are located abroad. At the same time, he called the federal government's enactment of the Defense Production Act, mandating domestic manufacturing of healthcare supplies in a national emergency, a "very positive" development.
“I am positive that there will be changes to the way we design and operate global supply chains once we emerge from this pandemic, which is showing us how vulnerable some of the chains have become,” Bernardes said.
Organizations representing Class 1 freight and short line railroads applauded Congress's recent action to ensure that rail workers have access to unemployment and sickness benefits during the coronavirus crisis.
Elements of the COVID-19 stimulus package specifically aimed at rail workers include a waiver of the seven-day waiting period for filing of sickness and unemployment claims with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), $50 million to cover the cost of additional benefits, an additional $1,200 biweekly unemployment benefit, funds for extending benefits through the end of this year, and $5 million to the RRB for additional administrative costs.
“This aid package will offer a vital relief to hard working rail employees whose jobs are impacted during these challenging times,” said Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). “We thank Congress for ensuring railroaders have access to this lifeline."
The relief bill also was praised by the American Short Line Railroad Association (ASLRRA). “While short line railroads are working hard to avoid any layoffs or furloughs, this Railroad Unemployment Insurance improvement is an important safety net to provide,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker.
MGA Entertainment Inc., a California-based maker of entertainment products, has launched a program to supply hospitals with medical equipment to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
MGAE's "Operation PAC-MAN" pledges to deliver more than 2 million masks, robes and protective gear to hospitals around the world. The initial plan involves donating $100,000 to UCLA Medical Center, along with identifying an overseas factory that can fulfill an order for the 2 million masks. A shipment of 25,000 masks, due to arrive in the U.S. this week, will be sent to three Southern California hospitals, including City of Hope, Cedars Sinai and UCLA, the company said. In addition, Flexport.org is partnering with MGAE to provide free airlift of another 150,000 units of medical supplies procured by MGAE, and promised to hospitals this week upon.
MGAE is launching a webpage this week for those wishing to support the program. It will include a link to where hospitals and healthcare workers can request certified and approved supplies to be sent to their facility. Upon verification of requests, the company will ship out supplies for immediate delivery.
The closures of schools, factories and offices to prevent spread of the coronavirus will “profoundly impact” the U.S. power sector, according to BloombergNEF.
Already in New York, electricity use dropped about 7% during the week ending March 25, and prices are down about 10% as the state has ordered nonessential businesses to close, BNEF said in a report Friday. Demand and power prices are also down in California and New England.
“There are clear demand trends in New York, New England and California, but it hasn’t hit the Midwest or Texas,” Josh Danial, an analyst at BloombergNEF, said in an interview. “That was a surprise to us.”
Expansion of work-from-home and travel restrictions in other regions will likely have a greater impact on power demand in coming weeks, he said. For now, demand in Texas and the Midwest is up slightly, which may be because of increased use of data centers and fewer travel restrictions, Danial said. The recent collapse in oil prices is likely to change that dynamic in Texas.
President Trump ordered General Motors Co. to immediately begin making ventilators, invoking a Cold War-era defense act amid productive talks with the automaker, Bloomberg reported.
“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time,” Trump said in a statement. “Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
GM and ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems Inc. had much of what they needed in place to ramp up production of the breathing machines. They were just waiting on the Trump administration to place orders and cut checks.
Toyota Motor Corp.’s idled manufacturing facilities in the U.S. will make much-needed face shields and masks, and the Japanese automaker is closing in on deals with medical-device makers to help them boost production.
The carmaker says it will start mass production of face shields early next week to supply hospitals near its plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas, Bloomberg reported. Toyota also said it is finalizing pacts with at least two companies to make breathing ventilators and respirator hoods, and it’s looking for partners to make protective masks. The company on Thursday extended its shutdown of North American factories for two weeks.
“In terms of the timetable there’s no change from our point of view,” the U.K. prime minister’s spokesman James Slack told reporters in a conference call, according to Bloomberg. Slack was asked if there would be an extension to the Brexit transition period beyond December.
In the global fight against COVID-19, a severe economic downturn could mean a contract logistics market drop of 10.2%, according to new research from Transport Intelligence.
Global projections reveal “significant” and varying degrees of risk, and the range of growth potential shows high stakes for retailers, manufacturers and contract logistics providers.
“It’s all but inevitable that we’ll have a global recession this year, and contract logistics will suffer,” the research firm says.
Industrial gases supplier Air Liquide, second-largest in the world after Linde, has increased production and inventory of essential medical gases like oxygen, and is managing its gas assets and safety hardgoods inventory to prioritize the needs of the U.S. healthcare system and government, according to a report in Gasworld.
The company is also “working closely with authorities” to increase production of ventilators. Production will double in March, and could quadruple by June “if necessary.”
A new survey finds a dramatic increase in the number of shoppers affected by the coronavirus outbreak, across all ages and genders, over the last month.
In the survey by First Insight, Inc., 75% of respondents said the virus is impacting their shopping behavior. That compares with 45% in a comparable survey conducted in February.
The survey also identified "significant swings" in behavior by women and Baby Boomers over that time. "Both groups had been slower to change behavior based on coronavirus fears than their gender and generational counterparts," First Insight said, "but are now in greater alignment."
The change is likely the result of intensified action by government to restrict movement and face-to-face interaction, said First Insight CEO Greg Petro.
“This survey shows a significant shift in behavior as consumers adapt to their new reality, whether it’s increasing purchases of staple items, moving more shopping online, or cutting spending in some areas," Petro said. "The world looks very different than it did three short weeks ago, and things are likely to look different three weeks from today."
The results were based on two U.S. consumer studies of targeted samples of more than 500 respondents each, conducted on February 28 and March 17, 2020.
Walmart has taken on 25,000 new employees and given offers to thousands more in the first week of a hiring push, Bloomberg reported, as the biggest private employer in the U.S. scrambles to keep its shelves stocked and checkouts staffed.
The retailer has compressed a hiring process that can often take two weeks into as little as three hours by eliminating formal interviews and written job offers.
Ford Motor Co. plans to resume production in Mexico on April 6, and some U.S. plants about a week later. After halting North American production as of March 19, Ford said it’s aiming to restart production first in Hermosillo, Mexico, which builds the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, according to Bloomberg.
Ford then plans to restart production on April 14 at Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio plants that assemble profitable F-Series pickups and commercial vans. Other factories that make transmissions and press metal parts for those vehicles are due to resume that day.
Fiat Chrysler and General Motors are also seeking to get assembly lines running again. Two union members who worked at separate Fiat Chrysler plants in Michigan died after contracting COVID-19, a union spokesman confirmed Thursday, after two others in Michigan and Indiana died last week.
The Norwegian and Swedish shipping line Wallenius Wilhelmsen has announced temporary layoffs of approximately 2,500 workers in the U.S. and Mexico.
The move comes in response to the closure of numerous North American automotive plants due to the coronavirus outbreak, the line said. “While we work diligently to avoid reductions in our workforce, we have no choice but to respond to the disruption experienced by our customers and the effect it has on our operational throughput and income,” said president and CEO Craig Jasienski.
The temporary layoffs amount to just over half of the line's workforce at several land-based processing centers.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen specializes in roll-on/roll-off cargoes, including cars, trucks and rolling equipment, as well as breakbulk shipments. It operates a fleet of around 125 vessels serving six continents, with 120 processing centers and 11 marine terminals.
The Conference Board has laid out three possible trajectories that the U.S. economy might take between now and the end of the year, in response to plunging consumer demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The first scenario is for a quick reboot occurring in May. It assumes that the number of new cases of the COVID-19 disease will stop rising by mid-April. Possible positive factors include warmer weather and the deployment of better medications and treatments. (Although even in this best-case scenario, a vaccine against the disease will take much longer to deploy on a wide basis, the board said.) The largest contractions will be felt by businesses most affected by social distancing, such as arts and entertainment, recreation and hospitality. Transportation, warehousing and retail trade follow on the list of impacted sectors.
The second scenario envisions a "V"-shaped recovery, occurring not until June and possibly July. Overall, the economy would contract by 35.6% in the second quarter (on an annualized basis), with unemployment possibly hitting 15% by the third quarter. The continuing decline in consumer spending will have a particularly heavy effect on retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses.
The third scenario delays the beginning of a reboot of the economy until September, with a rebound during the fourth quarter, and overall economic contraction of 6% for 2020. That assumes, of course, that COVID-19 will not return in full force during the fall.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joined other states in restricting access to malaria treatments that President Trump has touted for the novel coronavirus despite a lack of proof they will work.
Cuomo updated an executive order to block pharmacists from filling prescriptions for the malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for any uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration unless it is for a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is part of a clinical trial, Bloomberg reported. The medications are not approved to treat coronavirus.
The government doesn’t typically impose on the practice of medicine. Doctors are typically allowed to prescribe drugs for any illness or condition, not just those a specific medication is approved to treat. Ohio, Texas, Idaho and Nevada have also moved to limit access to the drugs.
Sharon Peacock, director of the U.K.’s National Infection Service, said 3.5 million virus home-testing kits have been ordered and will be available in days once scientists in Oxford have finished evaluating them for public use, Bloomberg reported.
The blood tests, which check for antibodies, will be sold via Amazon and pharmacy chains so people can test themselves, Peacock told a panel of lawmakers in Parliament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been criticized for not carrying out enough testing during the coronavirus crisis.
China has imposed a 14-day restriction on cargo ships and crew from certain countries worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
The action calls for tighter quarantine controls on vessels from the U.S., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, as reported by Splash247.com. It is in effect at major Chinese ports, including Shanghai and Ningbo-Zhoushan.
An average of 500 ships with 7,000 crew members call Chinese ports each day, according to Yang Xinzhai, deputy director of China’s Maritime Safety Administration.
China is reported to be employing "big-data" techniques to identify ships with the highest risk levels, and therefore subject to stricter quarantine controls.
Expect additional cancellations of ship sailings from China due to the ripple effects of the coronavirus outbreak, according to one industry expert.
The first wave of more than 100 service cancellations was due to the shutdown of Chinese factories in the early weeks of the crisis, noted Lars Jensen, CEO and partner of SeaIntelligence Consulting. The second will be in response to a drop in consumer demand caused by a global economic freefall.
The result will be a temporary shortage of shipping capacity along with rising freight rates, even as China and the rest of world begin to rebound from the economic impact of the pandemic. "This will make it more difficult to manage regular supply chains," Jensen said in an article posted on LinkedIn.
Jensen recommended that shippers build slack into their planning for time-sensitive cargo. Those choosing to pressure ocean carriers for lower rates could find themselves begging for ship space once economic activity resumes, he warned.
The state of Alaska, while recording just 32 cases of coronavirus to date, is highly vulnerable to the long-term impact of the disease because of its reliance on revenues from oil, fishing and tourism, according to state Senator Natasha von Imhof, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
“Alaska is experiencing a perfect storm, a most terrible trifecta, the hat trick from hell,” she said at a committee hearing on Saturday. “We are being hit on all sides with the stock market crash, oil prices plummeting and the tourism and fishing season all but idle.”
As reported by Arctic Today, quoting University of Alaska economist Mouhcine Guettabi, plunging fuel prices are already costing the state treasury between $500 million and $700 million.
Because of the stock market crash, the Alaska Permanent Fund lost about a tenth of its value in just over two weeks, the report said.
Drawing on Lean manufacturing principles and the concept of the "Visual Factory," Indow has divided its 20,000 square-foot facility into zones, placing brightly colored stickers at points where human touch is most likely. Zone "captains" maintain a cleaning schedule, with every worker covering one shift within each zone. The system allows for the cleaning of all high-touch areas on a regular basis, distributing that responsibility among staff.
Workers engage in Gemba walks to identify potential COVID-19 transmission vectors within the facility.
Indow said it's pursuing further efforts to eliminate disease vectors by replacing doorknobs with hooks, which allow doors to be opened with forearms rather than fingers.
Major U.S. retail and restaurant chains, including Mattress Firm and Subway Restaurants, are telling landlords they will withhold or slash rent in the coming months after closing stores to slow the coronavirus.
Chains are calling for rent reductions through lease amendments and other measures starting in April, according to Bloomberg.
Companies trying to jump into the mask-making business are hitting roadblocks in the supply chain. A Texas businessman, a company that makes pee pads for pets in Virginia and a longtime medical-supply executive in New York are all buying machines or retooling production lines to make medical-grade face masks, but new entrants and established mask makers like 3M Co. are facing shortages of key supplies and equipment, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Critical components such as nonwoven polypropylene remain in short supply, and the specialized equipment needed to make high-quality filters and masks is hard to find. Overseas suppliers of the machines say their backlogs stretch out several months. One manufacturer in North Carolina says its bid to rapidly scale up production is hamstrung because a major materials supplier had to shut its operations this year in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak.
Amazon.com says it has pulled more than half a million offers and suspended more than 3,900 selling accounts in the U.S. for violating its fair pricing policies.
A team is investigating “unfairly priced” products that are in high demand, such as protective masks and hand sanitizer.
“We are also proactively sharing information with state attorneys general and federal regulators about sellers we suspect have engaged in egregious price gouging of products related to the COVID-19 crisis,” the company said in a statement.
Since the coronavirus outbreak escalated in the U.S., there have been runs on hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bleach wipes, meat and canned soup, among other products. Some people have attempted to sell cleaning products and other supplies at inflated prices on Amazon, EBay and other sites.
President Trump has signed an executive order to prevent hoarding and price increases of supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
At a White House briefing, Attorney General William Barr said the government won’t go after a family with a big supply of toilet paper at home, but “if you have a warehouse of surgical masks, you’ll hear a knock on the door.”
He said the government had already initiated investigations of activities that are disrupting the supply chain and suggestive of hoarding. The president has given the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to designate items that people are prohibited from accumulating in more than reasonable amounts and from selling for above market value. Such items haven’t yet been designated, Barr added.
Amazon.com’s delivery delays of non-essential goods will extend for at least another month for many customers in the U.S. and Europe, stirring panic among online merchants who rely on the web retailer for business.
The lengthening delivery times come on top of confusion over how the company identifies “essential products,” a task that appears to be performed by algorithms with little human oversight. Online merchants became alarmed Sunday when they saw delivery dates pushed into late April, meaning many of them will lose more than a month of sales in the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The company announced last week that it would stop accepting shipments of non-essential goods.
Shipment holdups apply to a broad range of products in various categories, including bird feeders, kitchen towels and chalk. Tens of millions of products on Amazon sold by approximately 250,000 merchants won’t be available to shoppers until late April at the earliest — “the biggest disruption Amazon has ever seen,” Bloomberg reported.
Expected delivery appears to be slowest for Amazon shoppers who don’t pay monthly or annual fees for Prime.
U.S. automakers are scrambling to see if they can orchestrate makeshift manufacturing of ventilators in as early as two weeks.
Automakers have 3-D printers and the technical expertise to use them to make components. They have “clean rooms” in some plants that could be elevated to meet Food and Drug Administration standards, and Tyvek suits used in paint shops that could be re-purposed, Bloomberg reported.
With the Defense Production Act, President Trump could order the U.S. private sector to marshal its resources to attack the scarcity and provide financing via government contracts. There has been confusion about whether the president has actually done so via recent tweets.
For now, Trump said at a Sunday press conference, companies are responding without having to be forced.
Passenger airlines reeling from the coronavirus-driven collapse in travel are looking at suddenly-robust cargo markets.
American Airlines launched its first scheduled cargo flight since 1984 on Friday, with two round-trip flights over four days between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Frankfurt on a wide-body Boeing Co. 777-300 passenger plane that can carry more than 100,000 pounds of freight. Global carriers including Delta Air Lines, Korean Air Lines and Qantas Airways also are running passenger aircraft on freight-only flights in certain lanes.
Deutsche Lufthansa, which has cut 95% of its passenger flights but continues to operate its freighter fleet, says it may use some of the passenger planes to move cargo.
Industry executives say airfreight prices have started to surge on key trade lanes, including routes in Asia where production is starting back up even as industrial operations in Europe and North America shut down. Freight forwarders who typically pay $3 a kilogram to move freight in the belly of Cathay Pacific planes, for instance, may see rates of between $9 and $11 per kilo, The Wall Street Journal reported.
DHL Group’s global forwarding arm has declared force majeure so it can modify its services without penalties of contract violations. The company said in a statement that “almost all elements of the air and ocean supply chain on certain trade lanes” are now “impossible to predict or control.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders want to ramp up coronavirus testing, but providers of the diagnostics can’t make enough kits to keep up with demand.
The U.K. will soon be testing 25,000 people a day for the virus, Johnson said at a press conference Thursday, and that could eventually rise to 250,000.
Qiagen NV, which makes its own testing kits as well as the components others need for theirs, is having to ration clients while it works to ramp up production as much as 80% in two months. Roche Holding AG’s new high-speed tool that can spew out more than 4,000 results a day is going to places most in need — but not to every lab that could benefit from having it.
Intel is managing to maintain an above 90% on-time delivery of its products from factories worldwide — with manufacturing and supply-chain operations still running in Oregon, New Mexico, California and Arizona, Israel, Ireland, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and other partner locations around the world, the world’s biggest chipmaker says.
Intel’s products are essential components of personal computers and the server machines that run corporate networks and the internet. Continued output from its factories is a vital part of the global supply chain as the technology industry scrambles to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
Semiconductor plants are some of the most automated facilities in the world and require very little human involvement directly in the manufacturing process.
The Santa Clara, California-based company has been trying to increase its output to meet customer demand for more than a year after struggling with the introduction of a new advanced technique. It had planned to improve output this year to accumulate inventory and make sure all its customers were served. Companies such as Dell Technologies Inc. have complained that processor shortages have hurt their earnings.
American Airlines is deploying passenger aircraft grounded by the coronavirus outbreak to move cargo between the U.S. and Europe.
According to the airline, the first cargo-only flight will depart Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on March 20, landing at Frankfurt Airport the following day. The Boeing 777-300 will fly two roundtrips between DFW and FRA over a period of four days, carrying only cargo and necessary flight crew.
“Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers," said Rick Elieson, president of cargo and vice president of international operations.
American hasn't operated a cargo-only flight since 1984, when it retired the last of its fleet of Boeing 747 freighters.
Truckers are raising alarms about growing operational challenges from restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Efforts to hold back the spread are reaching truck stops and loading docks, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding hurdles for truck drivers racing to meet surging demand for consumer staples and medical equipment.
One operator says some customers are restricting movements of truckers at their facilities, and Pennsylvania recently closed rest stops that provide significant parking space for truckers in critical logistics corridors. Federal highway regulators are trying to provide more capacity by expanding a suspension of hours-of-service driving limits for critical goods, extending the waiver to carriers of fuel and some raw materials.
Detroit car companies have agreed to temporarily shut down factories in the U.S. to protect workers, The Wall Street Journal reports, in an unprecedented work stoppage that will affect more than 150,000 factory employees.
Ford Motor Co. is suspending factory work at its plants in North America for 11 days to clean facilities and develop other preventive measures, and General Motors Corp. is taking similar steps. Honda Motor Co. is also closing all its North American plants for six days to respond to coronavirus concerns.
The port of Fuzhou in eastern China is restricting vessels arriving from nine countries including the U.S. and Singapore in efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus by visiting ships and their crew.
Vessels arriving from Japan, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.S., and Singapore won’t be allowed entry into the port until they’ve completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine, according to Bloomberg. The countdown begins when ships depart from those nations.
Fuzhou’s port is the world’s 47th busiest, handling 3.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2018, according to the World Shipping Council.
President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday giving the federal government broad powers to direct the production and distribution of health protective gear, ventilators and other supplies if the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. gets far worse.
As part of an emergency measure, the executive order lets U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar take priority over private contracts and agreements. The department could also get control over how needed health-care goods are distributed.
It’s not clear how extensively the government would use the powers outlined in the broadly-written order, or whether companies would start legal objections if they disagreed. In a tweet following the signing of the order, Trump said it would be used for a “worst-case scenario,” and hopefully wouldn’t be needed.
The White House cited the Defense Production Act of 1950, which gives the government authority to allocate private resources in a national crisis, as the legal basis for the new authority.
President Trump announced today that the border between the U.S. and Canada will be temporarily closed to "non-essential" travel, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The action is being taken under "mutual consent" by the two countries. However, the President added in a tweet, trade will not be affected, and goods will continue to be allowed to cross in both directions. "Details to follow!" he tweeted.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced restrictions on the entry into Canada of non-citizens, except for those from the U.S.
The broad shutdown of American commerce and social life has put the nation’s blood supply under stress it’s never before seen, blood-center directors say. The centers are urging people to make appointments to donate after the typical venues for drives — schools, colleges, workplaces and houses of worship — have closed.
About 4,000 blood drives scheduled for March, April and May have been canceled, reducing projected supply by 130,000 donations, according to Bloomberg. A March 13 Congressional Research Service report warned the outbreak “may pose significant challenges” to the U.S. blood supply.
Officials say respiratory viruses don’t spread through blood, and blood centers hope getting the word out to donors that giving is safe will replenish stocks. The industry usually handles local shortages by moving supplies around, but the current drop in donations has affected inventory nationwide. The shortfall exposes another vulnerability in the complex supply chains that keep the medical system working.
Europe’s biggest industrial manufacturers from Volkswagen AG and Airbus SE to Daimler AG are taking unprecedented steps to idle plants across the region.
VW, the world’s largest automaker, joined a host of rivals and suppliers on Tuesday in suspending output across its European factories as a synchronized halt not seen in decades gained momentum. Airbus, the biggest planemaker, will shutter production at sites in France and Spain for four days to clean floor stations and separate workers, while Daimler is halting most of its output in Europe for at least two weeks.
Meat companies are ramping up processing to help restock coolers that are being emptied by Americans on edge.
Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat processor, is making its “most-significant shift” ever to produce more chicken, beef and pork that’s favored by supermarket shoppers, rather than cuts that restaurants use. Employees are working through weekends to fill as many orders as possible.
Sanderson Farms Inc. said it is adding Saturday shifts at its five plants that process chicken for grocery-store customers, and is ready to convert two other plants to process more such birds. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Perdue Farms Inc. are also working to accommodate the boom in retail demand.
Amazon said independent merchants would be unable to ship products other than medical supplies, household staples and other high-demand products to its warehouses until April 5 as the e-commerce giant prioritizes the delivery of these goods.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is offering some of its idled passenger aircraft to the cargo charter market, as the carrier seeks new revenue sources after pulling down a swath of flights because of plummeting travel demand. The airline will make available jets at 13 U.S. airports and 70 sites outside the country.
Delta said last week that it is cutting about 40% of its flights over the next few months, joining an array of airlines that are pulling back operations as governments restrict travel and customer demand falls.
Container lines are canceling surcharges for refrigerated shipments destined for China as congestion caused by the coronavirus impact eases.
The surcharges came after business slowdown in China last month caused a pile up of refrigerated containers at major ports across the country — and shortage of power and staff to monitor them. The situation has since been normalizing.
The Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport will remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak, despite a "shelter-in-place" order requiring the closing of all businesses in six Bay Area counties that do not provide essential services.
The port said both facilities are considered essential services, and are therefore exempt from the order.
The Port of Oakland is among the 10 busiest containerports in the U.S., handling more than 2.5 million cargo containers annually. Oakland International Airport serves 14 million passengers a year.
“Our operations are critical to the health, safety, infrastructure and economy of our region,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “We will continue to function as a vital gateway for global trade and transportation while doing everything possible to protect our employees, customers and business partners.”
Amazon.com Inc. will hire 100,000 people — and give U.S. workers a $2 an hour raise in an effort to meet crushing demand from customers placing online orders for household essentials rather than going to crowded stores, Bloomberg reported.
Amazon has had difficulty meeting demand triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. The company warned customers March 2 that orders were backlogged since demand outstripped its delivery capacity, and a technical glitch on Sunday further delayed orders from Whole Foods Markets and other Amazon services.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can—delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them,” Amazon executive Dave Clark said Monday in a blog post. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues. We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”
With hundreds dying every day, Europe’s governments are racing to stock up on ventilators, which can save patients with acute cases of COVID-19. The German government last week ordered 10,000 ventilators from Drägerwerk AG, worth roughly a year’s production. Italy is tendering for a total of 5,000 ventilators — at least 150 of which are on their way from China.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged British manufacturers across sectors to help with production of ventilators and other medical equipment.
A Tennessee man and Amazon seller has donated 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer — just as the Tennessee attorney general’s office began investigating him for price gouging.
U.S. grocers are changing some of their fundamental operations as coronavirus stockpiling threatens to overwhelm their supply chains. Retailers including Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets Inc. and Walmart Inc. are shortening store hours to give workers more time to restock and disinfect their sites. The Wall Street Journal reports the businesses are grappling with stronger-than-anticipated shopping surges and that contingency plans developed for natural disasters are running up against a nationwide emergency.
U.S. trade officials removed tariffs on dozens of medical items imported from China amid the coronavirus crisis — including some protective gowns, exam gloves, patient bags, surgical drapes and medical waste disposal bags. Officials had previously ruled that these items couldn’t get exemptions.
A nationwide run on hand sanitizer is testing manufacturers’ capacity to flex up production. Sales declined 4.5% last year, and the sudden swing in demand as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. is challenging suppliers, The Wall Street Journal reports, as factories staff up to boost output of the federally-regulated product. California-based EO Products is running extra shifts and converting factory lines designed for other products to make hand sanitizer, a switch-over that will drag on margins.
As supply chains showed signs of strain, U.S. highway safety regulators suspended limits on daily driving hours for truckers moving emergency supplies in response to the pandemic.
Cargo operators are ramping up charter services as passenger flight cancellations limit airfreight capacity, with several services announcing new routes for shippers scrambling for space.
Canceled conventions are weighing on special-events trucking companies, as more conferences, exhibitions and music events continue to be canceled or postponed across the U.K. and Europe.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.