As US officials warned of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., suppliers to the medical and health care industries said they were ramping up production.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news briefing Feb. 25 that it is is preparing for pandemic response plans if needed.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease at the CDC said health officials don’t know how large the spread of the disease to the U.S. might be, but that “disruption to everyday life may be severe.”
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she said. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” she said.
Plastics suppliers such as PolymaxTPE of Waukegon, Ill., and a manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomers, had already said its sister company in China was producing specialized TPE used in aspirators.
Berry Global Group Inc. had already ramped up production of nonwoven health care products in response to the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, “prioritizing production of nonwoven health care products.”
“With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in China, we continue to stay abreast of challenges which may affect our supply chain,” Amy Waterman, a spokesperson for Berry Global told Plastics News in an emailed statement Feb. 25. “We will continue to communicate with customers and suppliers to identify and resolve any delays during this time.”
Flexible packaging specialist Sealed Air Corp. said it is implementing precautionary measures to ensure the well being of its employees, including suspending business travel to and from affected countries.
“Sealed Air has business continuity plans in place to minimize potential impacts on its operations and customer service,” Pam Davis, a spokesperson for Sealed Air said in an emailed statement to Plastics News. “The company will continue to monitor the situation and assess the need for further measures based on recommendations by relevant authorities and business needs.
“At Sealed Air, the safety and welfare of employees and their families is our top priority. The company is closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the statement said.