Logistics ‘frontline’ in COVID-19 response
When most people think about how the logistics industry is affected by the pandemic, what comes to mind is the drastic increase in online ordering, which has required final mile delivery companies like ours to ramp up hiring and our delivery schedules.
Have you ever considered that members of the delivery and courier industry are front-line workers and at risk for COVID-19? This issue came up recently with the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA) and officials issued a public statement supporting the idea that couriers and delivery drivers be included in the first round of vaccines. Steve Howard, CLDA president, sent a letter stating as much to several key members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“On behalf of the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA), representing the U.S. courier industry, I am reaching out to request that couriers be included in Phase 1a of the coronavirus vaccine distribution schedule. As you may know, couriers throughout the United States have been considered crucial and essential workers during our current pandemic crisis and are critical to the integrity of our supply chain, especially for medical materials and devices,” he wrote.
The leadership team at On Time Logistics agrees with this request. We need to support our medical couriers who are in the hospitals daily as they are at the most risk. Our home delivery teams are at some risk as well. At this point, we think medical couriers should get priority along with the medical professionals who are treating the sick.
How are couriers involved?
In his letter, Howard outlined several ways that couriers and delivery drivers are essential to the pandemic response and are therefore also more at risk for infection.
“The courier industry is delivering many important materials as part of the response to the current pandemic, including:
- COVID-19 test samples from clinics and testing facilities to labs for diagnosis,
- Tissue and blood samples to diagnose and treat COVID-19 related illnesses,
- Pharmaceuticals to residences, assisted living facilities, hospices, and pharmacies,
- Diagnostic testing for all other non-pandemic-related illnesses,
- Blood and blood products from blood banks to hospitals and clinics, and
- Other non-medical “critical” deliveries such as groceries.
Howard also brought up another important issue, which is that potential exposure to the virus could make logistics workers another carrier for the virus.
“Our workers go into hospitals, doctors’ offices, and customers’ homes every day, and if they are not high on the list for receiving coronavirus vaccines, they may potentially be a vector for further COVID-19 infection,” he wrote.
We also recognize that as soon as the approved vaccines start rolling out, another sector of the logistics industry will become affected. All the potential vaccines require extreme cold storage, which is already at a premium in many areas. How the drastic need for this style of warehousing will affect the food supply chain and other cold storage items is not entirely known. It will also be paramount that more cold storage warehousing be constructed all over the world as we fight this pandemic together.