As state and federal health authorities slowly ramp up Covid-19 testing services and drive-through tents to track and fight the deadly coronavirus, they suddenly have a need to ship those test kits, and have turned to FedEx Corp. to transport those critical test specimens.
Transportation provider FedEx Express today said it launched an operation over the weekend to help the U.S. government quickly move Covid-19 test specimens from more than 50 remote drive-thru testing centers at major retailers across 12 states and deliver them to 10 commercial labs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aided in collecting, packaging, and sealing the test sample boxes, using FedEx’ SenseAware track-and-trace devices before they were shipped for delivery by 8 a.m. the next day. In support of that operation, FedEx Express has dedicated 28 flight legs, as well as specialized pick-up and delivery operations. The company says it will continue to provide support seven days a week as more remote testing centers come available across the country.
However, taking on delivery of virus testing kits also presents the company with the challenge of shielding its employees from infection by the coronavirus as they work to handle and transport those samples. In response, FedEx has rolled out new health policies for its 475,000 employees working to fulfill the firm’s daily parcel delivery volume. In addition to following guidance from public health organizations, FedEx says it has:
Those steps are similar to protective measures enacted by UPS as its employees continue reporting to work despite broad shelter-in-place orders and workplace closures mandated in many regions of the country, since package delivery is designated by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as being part of the government’s critical infrastructure.
For example, UPS has also suspended its usual policies for signature-required deliveries, saying that its drivers will still need to make contact with the recipient, having each consignee acknowledge that UPS is making a delivery and, if applicable, show government-issued photo ID.
That approach also complies with practices shared by the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA), a trade group representing the time-critical logistics, delivery, and express air cargo logistics industries.
In a list of best practices for safely handling supply chain tasks during the Covid-19 pandemic, CLDA has shared a list of practices such as:
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How are the members of the supply chain keeping themselves and the supply chain safe? They are being mindful of social distancing, offering no-contact delivery, and following the great advice from #CLDA members: https://t.co/pTm33pNpTq #CLDAKnows pic.twitter.com/I9ingFhNrP— The CLDA (@TheCLDA) March 23, 2020