Supply chain disruptions soar amid COVID case surge

Consumers might be noticing empty shelves in the grocery stores more often. The supply chain crisis has made itself known to consumers.

“If you’ve been to the grocery store, you’ve seen some empty shelves. I don’t think consumers should be panicking,” University of Houston’s Program Director for Supply Chain and Logistics Technology Margaret Kidd said. “What we’re seeing is a shortage of labor and a highly contagious omicron variant.”

With the omicron variant still surging in our nation, many workers are calling in sick, creating a slimmer workforce and impacting different areas of supply chain.

“There was a shortage of truck drivers before the pandemic. The pandemic exacerbated the situation. And, you look at the variant that’s ravaging the industry, you have a lot of folks calling in sick,” Kidd said.

Existing healthy workers like Jose Sandoval, a commercial truck driver, are slammed with work.

“I start at four in the morning. I go home at 12 o’clock or one o’clock because I still haven’t finished my route,” Sandoval said.

Milk, bread, meat and other medical-related items like COVID-tests have been reported by consumers to be in short supply in areas all over country. Kidd added some factories locally and overseas in China are reducing production or closing due to COVID-related policies.

“There’s a domino effect,” Kidd said. “Trade is interconnected. Our economies are interconnected and this involves every product that we use. whether it’s groceries or cars or laptops.”

Kidd said the issues with supply chain will likely last for at least 18 months, depending on the progress of the pandemic. She tells consumers not to panic and to also plan their grocery trips.

She recommended that people take precaution to not spread the virus.

“Plan ahead, to not hoard and be responsible citizens,” Kidd said.