Why aren’t there any supplies?: How COVID-19 is impacting the supply chain

We are in a time unlike any our generation has ever faced. With millions of people out of work, and many quarantining at home, it’s crazy how much our world has changed in a short amount of time. However, one of the most pressing issues is the lack of supplies for both healthcare workers and people at home. 

Image taken from: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/we-have-plenty-of-food-so-why-are-grocery-store-shelves-so-empty/ar-BB12NCzl

Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer are all important supplies to prevent the spread of disease. But for most of these supplies in high-demand, there aren’t nearly enough to go around. According to the New York Times, crucial supplies for saving lives are also running out. Ventilators and other life saving equipment are at shortages. Test kits are in high demand and are rarely handed out. This prevents people from being diagnosed and given the proper assistance to stop the spread and get healthy again. Masks, gloves, and other protective supplies continue to be in high demand; not only for health care workers, but for people everywhere.

At home, materials like toilet paper, packaged food, and other household items are becoming increasingly harder to find in stores. So, why are we experiencing all of these shortages and what can we do about it?

According to Vox, there are many reasons fr these shortages. Many are caused by major problems in the supply chain. Demand for these products is up, but suppliers have experienced many disruptions. Many American companies rely on overseas suppliers for materials and finished products. Any delay in overseas shipping can create a “domino effect” in regards to product availability.

Another major problem in the supply chain is caused by the amount of people out of work. With more people home sick, less of these products are being made, shipped, stocked and delivered.

So, what are companies doing to help meet the needs given such high demand for supplies? According to Johns Hopkins University, manufacturers and retailers have been working to improve things for consumers, even if it may not be immediately beneficial for business. For example, grocery stores have established dedicated shopping times for the elderly and other high risk individuals to allow access without exposure to others. Stores have also been imposing limits on the number of people allowed in the building to shop at a given time. Some stores are also rationing high-demand products by putting a limit on how much a customer can buy.

However, not all of this is on the manufacturers. We consumers need to take responsibility and realize that our actions have impacts on others. Avoid stockpiling and be aware that others may be in more need of a product than you.

And most importantly, stay home and social distance. The more we all do this, the sooner things will be able to get back to normal. 

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