Coronavirus outbreak impacting East Tennessee businesses

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The list of countries with confirmed coronavirus cases is growing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 14 cases in the U.S.

Impacts to individuals who have traveled abroad are likely not the only lingering effects of the virus. In fact, Tennessee manufacturing businesses have already seen delays in production because of the outbreak.

Businesses that import, export, or both with China are changing suppliers to maintain routine production schedules and keep their supply chain on track.

The reason: Many factories in China are closed completely, or have been closed, because employees are sickened by Covid-19.

“A lot of the impact could be felt later on down the road,” said Elizabeth Rowland, Founder and Executive Director of TN-China Network.

TN-China Network was created to educate and connect people across Tennessee and China to enhance trade, investment, and boost job growth statewide.

Rowland says Tennessee companies with ties to China prepared for the Chinese New Year, celebrated as a month-long holiday. By ordering ahead of time, the coronavirus outbreak in the middle of the holiday was delayed in its impact.

Now, as delays and factory closures continue, Tennessee companies are forced to find other ways to maintain business as usual.

For Kodak business KaTom Restaurant Supply Chain, that means finding other suppliers in countries that are not China to fill orders.

For consumers, the impacts will likely be felt months from the original outbreak, according to Rowland.

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