"It’s not one disruption; it’s a series of disruptions."
May 6, 2022 4:28 PM   Subscribe

In the US, the pandemic has caused a nationwide shortage of medical supplies like syringes, gloves, gowns, laboratory reagents, bedpans, suction canisters, IV kits, and IV contrast. Drug shortages were already a problem pre-pandemic. Shortages of raw materials have also hampered production, as well as the war in Ukraine (in part due to Russia’s outsize role in nickel, steel, and titanium production).

The White House has taken steps to strengthen and streamline supply chains, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggested making a public database to promote analyses, having ASPR modernize inventory stockpiling at national and regional levels, and having ASPR and the CDC examine ways to improve the last mile of supply chains for emergency response. Secretary Yellen advocates for diversifying suppliers from China to friendlier countries.
posted by joannemerriam (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not to mention the global semiconductor shortage. Previously.
posted by Catblack at 4:32 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


So…not the US in this case but dependent on the US supply chain and the timing of this post is just too coincidental.

My parents live in the Bahamas and last night my mom took a fall, and broke her femur. It requires surgery to fix, which was scheduled for today. Unfortunately, there are not enough of the screws the surgeon needs to re-set the bone in the WHOLE COUNTRY, and so the surgery has been rescheduled for tomorrow while they fly in parts from Florida (presumably).
posted by bxvr at 4:51 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Raw material supply issues appear to be at the root of the baby formula shortage that's going on, which sounds utterly awful given how many people are dependent on the supply to, you know, stay alive. I'm given to understand that because production is pretty tightly regulated manufacturers simply don't have the ability to bring alternative inputs online with any agility.
posted by majick at 6:01 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


It is everywhere, example, Home Depot. They used to get promotional items. Three years ago there was a big box, full of sets of three pairs of gloves, for $9.99 each set. I bought one set, gave one pair to my grandson for skateboarding, one pair to my daughter for gardening, then oh well, I gave the third pair to my neighbor, for pulling weeds. (This is starting to read like a story problem,) so I went back last week because I needed gloves, $10.40 buys one pair of gardening gloves. There is not a big promotional aisle any more, but management was talking about shortages in 2019, that somehow things had changed and, there just wasn't enough stuff. Last week there weren't as many garden plants as before, and everything was 30% more expensive. I shopped at Winco, what I used to buy for ~$70, was $140. When things used to be horrible I filled my tank for $50, now it is $70. It is everything. We are paying up so billionaires can go up to the edge of space, and sell this on their media platforms. The county where I live, supplies 70% of California's crude oil, the price gouging is for one thing, aside from pure spite and greed, to enrage the grassroots against the Democrats who have dared to promote solar over crude production, therefore pissing off big oil. While the local Republican choir puts their fingers in their ears and sings la la la Democrats did this. No, big capital did this, only; enough people stayed home working for the last two years, they have a clear view of their previous enslavement. Whiny bougies who want hamburger turners, so their franchises auto profit, and their hands won't be greasy when they go golfing, complain that folks just are lazy, and don't want to work. Just the rise in shipping cost has stripped our pocketbooks.
posted by Oyéah at 7:52 PM on May 6 [11 favorites]


People with severe allergies and other medical needs are SUFFERING. Medication shortages due to filters not being available for manufacturing. Single use feeding tubes and bags being forced to last a month. Proper tubing for ports not being available. Just like … the things that people rely on to stay alive and not get intractable infections are unavailable. Supply chain issues haven’t killed me yet, but I know they’ve taken years off my life.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:39 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


The shortage that weirds me out is cat food. I mean it is literally the scrap meat from regular meat processing, Regular meat processing is still going on. But somehow the cat food I fed my cat for 8 years has become priced like a collectable on Amazon at 4-5 hundred percent of it's pre-pandemic price (it seriously was listed in the collectables categories on Amazon for a while in early 2020 to get around Amazon's early pandemic half-hearted attempts at price gouging blocking). Now I understand the issues with meat packing early in the pandemic and maybe for a while thereafter but now that everything is ostensibly "normal' why is there still a shortage of meat processing byproducts? Where is the cat food source material going? Last week Trader Joe's cut two types cat food they have sold for years from their catalog of goods because of supply issues.

Are meat packers still getting covid at really high rates and the plants can't maintain adequate staffing? If so the media is weirdly silent about it. Are they unable to find workers because they won't offer a competitive wage and the inflow of undocumented labor has slowed? Has cat ownership skyrocketed? Is cat food raw material being diverted to handle the pandemic puppy boom?

This isn't really an international supply chain issue. It's entirely domestic and it is strange.
posted by srboisvert at 4:33 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the cat food scarcity has been going on since the beginning of the pandemic, and when I asked an employee at a pet food chain why it was happening, they said they had no idea. They were also terminally bored and dismissive, so I don't know if the employee just didn't feel like talking to me.

It seems petty to complain about that but it's so weird that it seems to be a red flag to me, indicating some kind of bigger problem.
posted by Peach at 4:42 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Fantastic roundup of timely and pertinent links - thank you joannemerriam!
posted by cynical pinnacle at 5:25 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I heard the cat food thing was because of a shortage of aluminum for the cans...not sure that's true but I hope it ends soon. Cats gotta eat.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:26 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Can't just be aluminum. My cats' brand is dry kibble in a giant bag, and Chewy has been out of it for several months at least.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:11 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I've been able to get dry kibble no problem - cans of food are expensive and out of stock frequently. The whole thing is weird.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:51 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Many big wet cat food brands make their cat food in Thailand. When we were in New Zealand, all the cat food was made in Thailand and I thought, "well, near Asia, so I guess?" Now we're back in the US and...all the cat food is still made in Thailand. So if it's being shipped in from Thailand the port stoppages would be a problem.

We just adopted two cats, one that is severely overweight and one that is severely underweight. They both need to be on special diets. We were told "Just get a chip reader food dish." There is one company that makes that sort of dish and it is sold out everywhere trustworthy. Even the manufacturer doesn't have a supply. When will there be some? Who knows. For the underweight cat, rather than allowing him to eat at his own (slow) speed, one of us has to follow him around the house and offer up food on a regular basis so he can eat a few bites, because there is no way for us to set up the dish so our dumpling cat can't get at it. This is the only way we can get him to maintain (and possibly gain a little) weight.
posted by rednikki at 6:56 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


bxvr, I hope your mom mends easily and the surgery has no further hassles.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:23 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


When things used to be horrible I filled my tank for $50, now it is $70. It is everything. We are paying up so billionaires can go up to the edge of space, and sell this on their media platforms. The county where I live, supplies 70% of California's crude oil, the price gouging is for one thing, aside from pure spite and greed, to enrage the grassroots against the Democrats who have dared to promote solar over crude production, therefore pissing off big oil. While the local Republican choir puts their fingers in their ears and sings la la la Democrats did this.

Nice rant, but this is probably a blessing in disguise. Are we now somehow arguing petroleum prices should be low by decree? Normally, leftists would love for petroleum prices to be sky high, caused by near punitive taxes, for both the consumption effects and for that sweet cut of money. There's a good chance that petroleum will just get relatively more expensive, as alternative energies become more and more attractive. Investment on large scale oil production and processing is becoming a less sure bet, so costs will go up servicing older infrastructure and scaling back new investment.

Are low fossil fuel prices and overproduction something that the world really needs to strive for at this point? Isn't it really satisfactory for Big Oil to be "price gouging" as much as they can? Or do we really want the government to come and install that central line to service our oil addiction at a dollar price we can afford?

When MeFites, whom I tend to think are smarter than the average bear, begin nursing various conspiracies and flaky theories to explain away current events and market forces, can there be any hope for the rest of us?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:01 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


… when I asked an employee at a pet food chain why it was happening, they said they had no idea. They were also terminally bored and dismissive, so I don't know if the employee just didn't feel like talking to me.

They almost certainly didn’t know, and also probably didn’t feel like talking to you. #RetailLife

Some apparent outages can probably be attributed to prioritization of various supply chains. Larger manufacturers getting first stab at limited materials, larger retailers getting earlier and larger allocations of finished products, stores in larger markets getting better allocations, etc.
posted by jimw at 9:10 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


The county where I live, supplies 70% of California's crude oil, the price gouging is for one thing, aside from pure spite and greed, to enrage the grassroots against the Democrats who have dared to promote solar over crude production, therefore pissing off big oil

If that's actually whats happening (the motive i mean) then its going to backfire tremendously. I was talking to a guy today who previously was "pry my truck from my cold dead hands" and he was telling me how he's taking a two hour bus ride home instead of driving to the airport. The bus! He was actually somewhat enthusiastic about the price being a third the price of driving and had to be "ya i know, i used it half a dozen times last year."
posted by Mitheral at 10:30 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Since this seems to have turned into a thread about cats....

My sick (but doing well) cat has one food he will eat reliably, which used to be avilable in 20oz contianers. Lately, only the 2oz pouches are available, and even then, not so much.

I recently purchased 10 of the 2oz pouches from PetCo, and everything about the purchase seemed normal until I started getting multiple "shipping" emails.

Turns out PetCo had decided that it was good business sense to send me the last 10 pouches from the last 10 warehouses in America, each shipped individually.

I literally got UPS packages for a week, every one containing 1 (or sometimes 2) tiny packages of cat food, sent from a different region.

It was probably $200 of packaging and shipping for about $1's worth of food.

I felt very sad when this happened.

Cat is happy though!
posted by soylent00FF00 at 3:56 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The fat cat / skinny cat thing, give skinny cat cream, give them both adult indoor food, I recommend Diamond Naturals Indoor. If you get it from a down to earth farm supply it is cheaper.

Kern county produces 70% of California's crude. There is no shortage here of any kind. Yet the prices are still over $5 per gallon. The cause, according to local Republican emails is, Joe Biden. Yes it is Joe Biden, because big oil wants no oversight, and, as it is some drilling is opening up on wild lands even with environment a stated concern of The Democratic Party.

This county's Supervisors tried to make California give the same subsities to oil, they are giving solar. This is Kevin McCarthy's home base. The town where he never owned a deli.

The anti abortion frenzy has to do with less consumers world wide, and less low paid workers, therefore, less profit. There is less stuff, less stuff to sell or buy. Medical supplies, that hurts, food, at double the price, that hurts even more people in general. This has been coming, as money trickles hopelessly upward, and we are just lazy, and don't want to work more, to pay for the same stuff.
posted by Oyéah at 5:43 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Our cat has a bad, bad gastrointestinal problem (hopefully colitis but maybe lymphoma) manifested as bloody diarrhea. Our vet prescribed a food on Friday but it is unobtainium.
posted by neuron at 11:54 AM on May 8


See if he will eat yogurt. They make cat probiotics.
posted by Oyéah at 12:16 PM on May 15


I'm a little late to the party, but I purchased our monthly bag of dry dog food yesterday. The 40# bag used to be about $65. Now it's up to $87! No idea why. And that's one jump in price - not over the course of a few years.
posted by hydra77 at 3:10 PM on May 15


« Older How the age-appropriate debate is altering...   |   TikTok’s Work Culture: Anxiety, Secrecy and... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments