Port of Va. Fast-Tracks COVID-19 Test Shipments

The Port of Virginia has started handling some very precious cargo: COVID-19 test kits and protective gear for frontline medical workers. The Port Authority says it’s using new, streamlined processing methods to get the tests and supplies where they need to go “in rapid fashion.”

“We moved our first import load of test kits on Monday and our operations team worked closely with the ocean carrier and the cargo owner to make sure we moved that container first,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.

The port has just put into effect the COVID-19 Critical Cargo Initiative, which flags critical import cargo moving across Virginia to fight the novel coronavirus, and fast-tracks those shipments. Critical cargo includes the personal protective equipment we now know as PPE: face shields, gloves, gowns, test kits, hand sanitizer, and the raw materials needed to make PPE.

The first container with test kits arrived at the port early Monday morning from the vessel COSCO Philippines. The Port Authority says it took less than two hours to offload the container and load it into a truck bound for a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis.

More shipments of test kits were expected by the end of the week. Each critical cargo import relies on a lot of collaboration between the cargo ship, the longshoremen, and the port’s operations team “to identify the cargo and its location on the ship well before its arrival,” the Port Authority explains.

“Everyone understands the importance of this cargo to those who really need it,” Reinhart says. “More is on the way and as it arrives, it will receive priority treatment and expedited delivery.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano