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One Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 at Port of Virginia

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File image courtesy Port of Virginia

By The Maritime Executive 04-09-2020 09:31:13

One employee at the Port of Virginia has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, port officials confirmed in a webcast on Thursday. The individual was last at his post at Virginia International Gateway on March 21, and areas where he had visited have been carefully sanitized by a specialist contractor. One colleague had come into contact with him, and that individual has been identified. 

The case has not had any operational impact on the port. In a new precautionary measure, though, the Port of Virginia is now taking the temperature of anyone coming into Norfolk International Terminal and Virginia International Gateway. Any individual with a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit may not enter. Similar screenings will soon be rolled out at the Port of Virginia's other terminals, including Portsmouth Marine Terminal and Newport News Marine Terminal.

The screening does not apply to truckers, who do not physically interact with port employees within the terminal. 

“It is one of the best things we can possibly do . . . to protect the employees,” said Thomas Little, a top official with the International Longshoremen's Association at Hampton Roads, speaking to the Virginian Pilot. 

Like other American seaports, the Port of Virginia has announced a new priority system for health-critical cargoes like PPE, medical equipment, hand sanitizer and other goods necessary for the COVID-19 response effort. "We’re continuing to swiftly move our customers’ cargo to where it’s needed – including COVID-19 test kits and medical supplies," said Port of Virginia CEO John Reinhart in a statement. 

As at the main West Coast seaports, the Port of Virginia's total TEU volume at the port fell last month, declining by nearly nine percent relative to March 2019. Reinhart predicted difficult weeks ahead due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.