COVID-19

A customs broker battles the effects of COVID-19

Bennett Purser Feb 24, 2020
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A deserted street in Shanghai on Feb. 6. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

A customs broker battles the effects of COVID-19

Bennett Purser Feb 24, 2020
A deserted street in Shanghai on Feb. 6. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Nearly three months since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China, the infection rate of the disease caused by coronavirus continues to climb around the world. Quarantine efforts have temporarily halted much of Chinese economy, causing cities like Shanghai to look like a ghost town during the Lunar New Year holiday. While workers are slowly going back to work, the impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the global economy.

Gretchen Blough

The outbreak has left many American businesses that depend on China’s manufacturing helpless. More than 200,000 flights to and from the country have been canceled. The outbreak and related shipping restrictions come after many of the same companies spent years grappling with effects the U.S.-China trade war, with costly tariffs imposed on Chinese imports.

Gretchen Blough, a licensed customs broker for Logistics Plus Inc. in Erie, Pennsylvania, spoke with us about the challenges the disease has put on her customers hoping to get their goods into the United States. 

“It just seems like the trade war was bad enough, but it really didn’t have this kind of impact on the shipping,” Blough said. “People still didn’t have options sometimes of sourcing from any other place but China. And now everything is screeched to a halt out of China.”

Click the audio player above to hear the story.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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