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A customs broker battles the effects of COVID-19

A deserted street in Shanghai on Feb. 6.

A deserted street in Shanghai on Feb. 6. Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

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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.

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