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Calls to several large mold shops across the U.S. revealed that quoting is up for most of them, but none could say for sure that it’s the result of SARS and travel restrictions to Asia. Rich Berman, president of Graphic Tool Corp. (Itasca, IL), says he has no doubts that SARS is a factor in the amount of work he’s quoting lately. “Logic tells me it has to be a factor,” he adds. “The good part about [SARS] is that it makes people pause and think twice before they put all their eggs in one basket.”

Rick Lieberman, a buyer for ITW Produx Div. of Illinois Tool Works, says his company wasn’t really looking to source tooling in China yet, “but we had plans to go over there to look at fastener manufacturers,” he says. “We’d planned on going in March, postponed that trip and rescheduled it for April, and postponed it again. [Any future travel] plans are based on the information coming out of—or not coming out of—China.”

Contingency PlanningDead in its tracks?

Gro Harlem Brundtland, secretary general of WHO (World Health Organization), said that the world has “seen SARS stopped dead in its tracks,” according to an article appearing in the Toronto Star (www.thestar.com) on June 18. Though the death toll continued to rise, the international spread of the epidemic appeared to have halted around that time. But some say the SARS threat is far from over.

Dennis Maki, a University of Wisconsin Medical School professor and reportedly an expert on infectious diseases, warns us that the real danger from SARS will come this fall and winter when people move back indoors.

According to a report in The Capital Times (www.madison.com) on June 12, Maki cited troubling parallels between SARS and the 1918 “Spanish Flu” influenza epidemic, which killed more than 50 million people.

The mortality rate of SARS—12 to 15 percent—is five times higher than the Spanish Flu. For those more than 60 years old, the SARS mortality rate is 45 to 60 percent, he said.

“You never see influenza in the summer. In 1918 it spread all summer and in September it burst on the world. SARS has smoldered all spring. Most respiratory viruses spread like wildfire in the fall,” Maki said.

According to news reports in June, PC makers Dell Computer and Gateway were sticking by their financial forecasts despite SARS slowing sales in other China-based technology markets, like mobile phones. Warnings about the SARS impact on technology were issued by Motorola, Nokia, and Texas Instruments around that time.

Electronics contract manufacturer Flextronics International operates 33 plants in China. CEO Michael Marks believes that if SARS is a short-term problem, there won’t be any problems. But the longer it goes on, the higher it will raise the issue in people’s minds.

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