The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed daily life. Millions of the nation’s citizens have been asked to shelter in place. Items like surgical masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper have become sought after and hard-to-find as people prepare. And yet, we need these (and other) products, and we need people to deliver them and the raw goods from which they are made. That’s where railroads come in.
On March 19, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) issued an initial list of "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers." These workers are the individuals who must continue working to keep the businesses essential to public health, safety, the economy and national security in operation. The memorandum lists railroads as critical to keeping supply chains fluid. Here’s why.
The Critical Resources Railroads Deliver
Railroads support the nation in delivering critical resources to help with the health and safety of communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
- Alcohol used for hand sanitizer.
- Soaps and detergents, including soda ash, used in producing hand soap.
- Industrial chemicals used to manufacture cleaners and disinfectants, including bleach.
- Plastics used in medical supplies, including test kits, medical gowns, and components of surgical masks.
- Paper products, including the raw materials to make facial tissue, paper towels and toilet paper.
- Containerboard for boxes that are used to ship food and support the increase in online orders.
- Other staples people are stocking up on, including canned goods, paper goods, and perishable and non-perishable foods, like bread, milk, produce, cereal and more.
There has been talk that auto manufacturers may use their production facilities to produce respirators. In the instance that happens, railroads may also be shipping these life-saving machines.
Supporting Daily Life
In addition to these high-demand, pandemic-related products, railroads also keep critical goods moving to maintain our everyday way of life. These include agricultural products, including the food we buy from stores, energy products that power our homes and businesses, industrial products and manufactured goods, including finished vehicles and building materials for homes, and products that maintain public health, like chlorine-based disinfectants used to treat drinking water. So even as the world eventually recovers from the current crisis, railroads will continue being essential to our country and its citizens.
If you’d like to learn more about what products can ship by rail — or how the railroad can help keep your supply chain moving, even in times of crisis — get in touch.
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