With nearly 98,000 cases globally in 13 countries, and more than 3,300 deaths from the new coronavirus, industry analysts and manufacturers are watching for its effect on markets from multiple angles.
Brown Machine Group, the Beaverton, Mich.-based thermoforming equipment manufacturer, said it is monitoring the impact of coronavirus with a management action team.
"While the risk for our manufacturing sites remains low, each [group] is working on proactive steps for assessment of increased risk and [spreading] prevention as well as contingency plans for possible work reduction or necessitated plant closures," it said in a March 5 letter to customers. "Employees are being educated on recognition and prevention of virus transmissions."
Home appliance giant Whirlpool Corp. said in an emailed statement to Plastics News that it is focused on the "health and safety of our employees,"
"At this point, the business impact of the coronavirus is largely concentrated in our Asia and [Europe, Middle East and Africa] regions," the statement said. "While we are monitoring potential component shortages very closely, we are currently experiencing only minor supply chain issues in select product segments in our North America and Latin America regions."
"As the situation remains fluid, we are in continuous contact with our entire supply base, and are actively monitoring and evaluating our operations to take appropriate actions," it said.
CEO Marc Bitzer, said in the company's year-end earnings call Jan. 28 that he didn't expect a major impact from the virus.
"Our biggest concerns right now are around our people, but it so far looks like all our 10,000 people are safe and healthy," he said.
Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a tweet March 4 that analysts expect the virus to have an impact on U.S. auto sales.
"We now expect a coronavirus-related pullback in U.S. auto sales to be inevitable. It is only a question of how much and how long. We have initially cut 2020 by [about 300,000] to 16.5 million units."
Though public health officials say the overall risk of exposure to the virus is low, on March 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a list of registered antimicrobial products that can be used against the virus. The EPA's list included products from brands including Clorox, Lysol and Purell.