The rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus, has ignited global fear, and with multiple cases diagnosed in the Bay Area, the potential for a pandemic has prompted officials to declare a State of Emergency in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.
BART is taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus on its vast train network by disinfecting cars and stocking up on face masks, hand sanitizers and other protective products.
The reason for building up the reserves is because it's not a matter of "if, but when" the virus will spread widely in the Bay Area, according to Robert Powers, BART’s general manager.
Chief Safety Officer Jeff Lau said BART "already has a proactive approach" for disinfecting its cars.
Lau says that disinfectant for riders should also be anticipated, as BART warehouses are well stocked.
“For example, we have face masks, we have hand sanitizers, and all the disinfectant wipes,” Lau explained. “They’re either available to employees or distributed to employees.”
The outbreak has begun nipping at the local economy too, starting with the Port of Oakland.
“We’re beginning to see some effects from the coronavirus spread at the Port of Oakland and indeed in ports around the United States," said Port of Oakland’s Mike Zampa.
There have been 23 vessels scheduled to arrive at hte port that have canceled their trip, Zampa said.
In comparison, more than a hundred cargo ships unloaded at the Port of Oakland last month.
He says that’s about a 20% reduction, and it may go higher.
Zampa said Coast Guard procedures are being quickly followed.
“They require that the crews on a ship stay on board if they’ve been to China in the last 14 days,” Zampa explained. “That means they can’t get off the ship in Oakland.”
He says exporters may also have trouble finding enough ships to send back to China.
“We’ve got long-term contracts with marine terminal operators so the port will get paid regardless,” Zampa said.
He also says that their concern is for their customers and the cargo owners who have shipment coming from Asia.
“How do you get components for your assembly line?” Zampa asked. “How do you get goods for your store shelves? How do consumers get clothes for their closets?”
At the same time, he says, exports have been up at the port, however, it might be tougher for exporters to find ships to send goods back to Asia.