Share
March 12, 2020 11:45 AM, EDT

Washington Trucking Community Proceeds With Caution Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Port of SeattleA Washington state ferry sails on a foggy day near cranes at the Port of Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Sheri Call, executive vice president of Washington Trucking Associations, said her members are experiencing a slowdown because of COVID-19’s impact on trade with China.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 29 people in the state have died of the virus as of March 11.

Call noted that freight already is generally sluggish at this time of year because of the extended Chinese New Year holiday.

“This typically is a slow time of year for the industry, but virus concerns and the concern for manufacturing and freight coming from China causes us huge impact concerns,” Call said.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which represents the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, has posted periodic updates in response to COVID-19. A major gateway for cargo from Asia, top imports include furniture, auto parts and toys.

Most recently, the alliance shared a bulletin from the U.S. Coast Guard issued March 9. The letter states that nonpassenger commercial vessels that have been to China or Iran in the past 14 days may be permitted to enter the U.S. and conduct operations normally, as long as they have no sick crewmembers. All crewmembers, sick or well, must remain on board the ship unless they are conducting specific cargo activities.

In terms of communicating with members of the trucking industry, Call said she and her team are making sure people are aware of hygiene procedures and the populations that are particularly vulnerable to the illness. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on March 10 announced new rules for those visiting assisted living facilities, whose residents are older and more vulnerable. The following day, Inslee issued a proclamation limiting large gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events, in three counties.

“We don’t know how big it’s going to get, how much impact it’s going to have and how we’re going to respond to it in the future,” Call said.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: