Operations Suspended at Port Houston Container Terminals After Worker Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mike Schuler
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March 19, 2020
Photo: Port of Houston Authority

Update: Port Houston container terminals are set for reopening for regular business March 20. Full statement at the bottom.

Port Houston has suspended operations at its two container terminals after a worker there tested positive for COVID-19. 

The two terminals impacted are the Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals, which collectively handle approximately two-thirds of all containerized cargo in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The terminals are owned and operated by the Port of Houston Authority, aka Port Houston.

“The Port Authority has learned that someone who worked at both Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus,” Port Houston said in a statement. “In light of this information, and in an abundance of caution, both public terminals are closed and operations are temporarily suspended while a thorough investigation is being conducted.  The Port Authority’s other public facilities remain open.”

The Houston Ship Channel and the 200-plus private terminals that comprise the greater Port of Houston are also still operating, it said. All other public facilities, including breakbulk and general cargo facilities, remain open. 

“The health and safety of Port Houston’s employees, users, customers and community remains its first priority. Port Houston is in communication with public authorities and health agencies while an investigation is underway,” the Port Authority said. 

In 2019, Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals handled a record 2,987,291 TEUs. 

In an update Thursday afternoon, Port Houston announced that operations would resume on March 20.

The Port Authority has conducted a thorough investigation regarding the ILA worker, who recently worked at both Bayport and Barbours Cut Terminals, that tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The ILA worker is currently in quarantine at the hospital.

Port Houston has conducted a joint investigation with the ILA which indicated that his exposure to others was fairly limited. Following CDC guidelines, all those that he has been in direct contact with during the 2 days worked at Port Houston facilities are in self-quarantine. Additionally, those who maintained social distancing from the worker, and have low risk, have been advised.

We have taken prudent steps to ensure we resume operations responsibly and safely. We will be resuming vessel operations this evening at 1900 at both container terminals. We will reopen both container terminals for regular business tomorrow morning.

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