COVID & Shipping Containers: 5 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know

COVID and Shipping Containers 5 things you didnt know simple terra
There are roughly 11 million shipping containers around the world that are currently not being used. That number is only increasing as global trade is slowed due to COVID-19. However, you'll be amazed at how the COVID virus has impacted the use of shipping containers in the health, education, and housing industries. 

Containers Provide Much Needed Space For On Demand Patient Care

Generally speaking, health service containers are in high demand as a result of overloaded hospitals and COVID-19 distancing and logistical requirements.

Existing hospitals all over the world are beginning to use cargo containers to rapidly relieve the increased demand for patient care. Intensive care units (ICUs) are one the most vital health resource we need to save at risk critically ill COVID patients.

Thankfully the open source project, Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments or CURA, has taken prefabricated shipping containers and converted them into fully functioning mobile ICU's. Each unit is capable of caring for 2 patients.

ICU's environments are not easy to set up due to the required medical equipment and ICU standards. However, CURA's design enables the bio containment and negative pressure environment needed for an ICU.

The modified shipping containers come with a inflatable corridor that allows units to attach to one another. This modular design allows for more adaptability when building and transporting ICU units.

Did we mention these ICU shipping containers cost roughly $100,000 per container? It may seem pricey but in actuality it is 3x cheaper than the cost of a similar ICU at traditional hospitals.

It is important to  realize that other companies have been creating modified shipping containers which serve as small clinical sites. The designs vary. However, the containers are intended to service other non ICU related conditions. 

The U.S Air Force has even begun transporting COVID positive patients using repurposed shipping containers. The containers feature negative pressure systems, similar to CURA's containers, to safely move infected patients.

The Air Force has already flown numerous COVID-19 aeromedic missions. Each air mission hosts one container that can transport up to 23 COVID patients without any risk to the flight crew.

Air Force Shipping Container ICU view

Governments & States Are Turning Shipping Containers Into Portable Lab Testing Sites

There is a massive need for more COVID-19 labs as governments and state officials look to expand testing. It just so happens the size and mobile functionality of shipping containers make for an easy conversion into portable COVID-19 testing labs. 

London based company, Open Cell, has created "ready to ship" COVID-19 testing labs. These shipping container labs allow for rapid testing. The labs are capable testing roughly 2,000 patients a day and can provide test results in 5 hours.

The speed of results is due in part to a well designed three station set up.  The design optimizes for quick processing of patients and samples. The open cell testing lab containers comfortably fit all the needed equipment and have enough space for a 6 person medical team.

Shipping container lab grimshaw dtec view simple terra

As COVID-19 pandemic continues, more companies and institutions have been stepping up to design shipping container labs to respond to the crisis. The design team from popular architecture firm, Grimshaw, quickly announced a smartly designed floor plan they call  "D-Tec suite." The floor plans include designs for both specimen collection and lab testing. 

The Need For More Shipping Container Liners Will Grow By $174 Million in 4 Years

Now that's a lot of liners! Most do not realize that shipping containers use liners when they transport goods. The liner's must be continually changed out per shipping regulations.

Technavio's recent industry report notes a decrease supply of liners due to manufacturing issues and a weakened supply chain. Meanwhile, the demand for shipping container liners are only increasing as regulations tighten to ensure safety standards are met. 

Shipping Containers Are Now Being Turned Into Safe Education Pods

As schools slowly start reopening, some institutions are facing issues with available teaching space. Schools can no longer pack a class full of students like they use to.

Companies like Citizen Care Pod have come up with a unique solution to this problem. There Education Pods, are retrofitted shipping containers designed to provide teachers and students with safe learning environment.

Citizen Care Pod Education Pod 3D render shipping container

The containers come equipped with HVAC and HEPA filters along with large operable windows to maintain a clean and refreshed air system. The pods also come equipped with overhead UV lights and dedicated sanitizer stations.

Each classroom pods can hold up to 15 students comfortably. The pods are manufactured in North America and delivered within 3 weeks of purchase. 

More People Than Ever Have Been Purchasing Shipping Container Homes

Sales of shipping container homes have increased significantly since the breakout of the virus. The trend of tiny houses and containers homes have generally been on the rise but has seen a significant boost of interest this year alone. 

People are becoming increasingly interested in the benefits of owning a container home. We believe this interest is due in part to people wanting to live further away from dense populated communities. 

1bd-with-deck_large simple terra shipping container home sierra nevada
Simple Terra offers a wide range of budget and luxury shipping container homes. These container homes are a great alternative to traditional housing and the wide selection of design options ensures there is a design plan specific to each family's budget and needs.

Of course there is the obvious cost savings from purchasing a container home. This savings looks more enticing as more families struggle to maintain their mortgage payments. Container homes also make a good investment for those considering renting one out for additional income.

SimpleTerra offers a wide range of budget and luxury shipping container homes. These container homes are a great alternative to traditional housing and the wide selection of design options ensures there is a design plan specific to each family's budget and needs.


Shipping containers have provided creative solutions to dealing with the global impact of COVID-19. Containers are being used as pop up ICU's and lab testing clinics to supplement overloaded hospitals and health systems. 

Additionally, shipping containers are providing a meaningful solution to the educational market with the introduction of mobile education pods. More people are finding resourceful ways to use existing containers including using them as a container home. 

What other ways have you seen shipping containers being used as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

  • It is very innovating it is a great way to repurpose shipping containers for greater use if you have any more information regarding this could you please email me

    • Hey Ron. We are glad to hear you liked the article. We will definitely reach out to you if we see anymore interesting ways shipping containers are being used.

  • >

    Warning: system(): Cannot execute a blank command in /home/customer/www/ on line 22