Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said in a new video message that cargo operations at the busiest U.S. port continue to run smoothly, with no congestion or disruption due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
However, Seroka said more safety precautions are being taken at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex that covers the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the evening labor shift is starting an hour later so cargo-handling equipment and radios can be sanitized. Terminals and gates are open daily, he noted.
“The good news is that workforce labor shift counts at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles last week were up 20 percent and were at their highest level in nearly two months,” Seroka said. “We also anticipate higher container volume in April, as manufacturing in China normalizes and some U.S. businesses replenish their inventories. This is encouraging news in the short term, but unfortunately, overall volume in 2020 will be considerably lower than last year.”
The Port of Los Angeles moved 449,568 20-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in March, a 30.9 percent decrease compared to last year. For the first quarter of 2020, volumes fell 18.5 percent compared to 2019. It was the lowest amount of monthly cargo moving through the port since February 2009 during the Great Recession.
March imports decreased 25.9 percent to 220,255 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports were down 23.8 percent to 121,146 TEUs.
Seroka also noted that work on key port constructions projects, such as the Badger Avenue Bridge and L.A. Waterfront, have not been impacted and will continue.
In addition to his role as executive director, Seroka serves as chief logistics officer for the City of Los Angeles, leading the Logistics Victory Los Angeles (LovLA) effort that works to ensure the medical supply chain flowing into area hospitals remains strong and fluid. As part of this effort, last week Apple provided LovLA with 160,000 face shields for frontline hospital workers and others who need them.
The Port of Los Angeles also serves as the temporary homeport of the Naval hospital ship USNS Mercy, sent by the White House to aid in COVID-19 hospital and healthcare worker capacity efforts. North America’s leading seaport by container volume and cargo value, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $276 billion in trade during 2019.