COVID-19 Outbreak Forces U.S. Ports to Plan for Non-Essential Cargo Disruptions


According to, with reduced global demand across-the-board due to coronavirus, U.S. ports are seeing shippers wanting to keep large amounts of non-essential cargo at the ports, further disrupting the supply chain.

Coronavirus had already forced shippers to cancel large amounts of orders and in many cases, kept containers from being shipped out at all. In March, commercial activity in China picked up as manufacturers returned to work. With the U.S. coronavirus outbreak ramping up and economic activity collapsing, U.S. port officials are concerned that U.S. ports will see large delays and backups of loaded containers sitting inside terminals nationwide.

Some of America’s largest ports are already looking to temporarily expand capacity, in a bid to salvage some kind of normalcy and allow capacity to be handled at manageable levels. In some cases, expanded capacity may come from lands that are not actually part of some ports, though acquisitions.

Many U.S. ports are undertaking expansion efforts to ensure they can efficiently handle essential goods and cargo coming in and leaving the U.S.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, huge retailers such as Amazon have already enacted policies that prioritize essential goods being shipped long before non-essential goods. For example, while food and medical supplies are essential, sports equipment and a new bedding set is not.

In many cases, those non-essential goods are just piling up at terminals nationwide, leaving ports scrambling to avoid disruptions to the essential goods supply chain. Although ports have faced this situation in the past, with natural disasters and other calamities, there has not been a time in modern history where all ports face a similar situation at the same time on such a large scale.

At this point, it is indisputable that COVID-19 has caused a high level of disruption. Additionally, it is clear that COVID-19 has affected shipping on a large scale. While not every U.S. port has been affected yet, most of the nation’s largest ports are preparing for dire situations over the next several weeks and months, and seem to be aware of the dangers COVID-19 poses on disruptions to the supply chain.

As further delays and disruptions are inevitable, we at MTS Logistics will continue to keep every of our customers and members of the community informed of the latest developments.