Being that I am self-employed with no health insurance or sick days, I have been staying up-to-date on the potential coronavirus epidemic that started in Wuhan, China in December. It’s important to understand that coronaviruses are responsible for the common cold. COVID-19, however, is a super-cold, so to speak. To date, the new COVID-19 has spread to most countries, including the United States. My concern increased on March 6 with the first reported case in Indiana. To be quite honest, this initial Indiana case infuriates me, and in my opinion, the male quite deliberately caused his exposure by traveling to Boston for a convention where numerous people have also developed the illness. You couldn’t pay me enough to get on an airplane and go to a convention right now, so this guy’s logic completely eludes me. However, this guy isn’t the only person to blow-off this illness. I know many others, including members of my own family, who are not taking this seriously.
Logistics, Shipping and the Coronavirus
Let’s assume you are taking proper precautions to limit your exposure to the coronavirus, like washing your hands often and not going to crowded places. Even if you manage to avoid this super-bug, it’s still likely to impact you in the form of reduced availability of goods. If you’ve looked on Amazon lately, you’ll see the price of hand sanitizer is through the roof. I’ve seen hand sanitizer listed for as much as $150 and sometimes higher. That’s called price-gouging. What I’ve heard in the circles where I roam is that hand sanitizer as well as other types of antibacterial soaps are selling out. When I tried to order items from Target the other day for delivery, I found them out of 1000 sheet toilet paper (I won’t use anything else), antacids, Anti-Diarrheals and allergy medicine, at least as far as what I buy on a regular basis.
MarketWatch predicts that Target and Walmart will be the first to start selling out of certain goods. They are the two retailers that most heavily rely on Just-in-Time deliveries. These are deliveries that are only placed when stocks are reduced to X level. Then, just enough product is shipped to fulfill demand for three to seven days. Most grocery stores only keep about three days worth of supplies on hand. Severe out of stocks of certain items are predicted to start by Mid-April. Though, depending on where you live, you may already be seeing the impact. Costo is one chain that is seeing severe out-of-stocks due to a run on supplies.
What’s Being Purchased
Water (Bottled and Jugged)
Toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissues and other paper products
Masks (Sugical, construction, Respirator)
Long Shelf-Life Items (Rice, Pasta Canned Goods)
Additional Types of Cleaning Supplies
Medication (both prescription and over-the-counter)
Some stores are also experiencing a rush on fresh meat
Can Supply Keep Up With Demand?
Not currently. Depending on what you read, the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) by the masses as well as cleaning supplies has outpaced the supply in some markets. Hawaii has been quite affected due to the fact that they import most of their items. Of course, this is dependent on the market. Washington state, Minnesota, Hawaii and New York are experiencing the worst shortages, according to Newsweek.
Should You Stock Up?
It depends on your perspective and whether or not you believe the hype about the coronavirus is legitimate. If you believe this will blow over, you probably don’t want to stock up beyond what you normally would for the week or the month. If you somewhat believe the hype, perhaps you’d like to stock up for two or three weeks versus one week in order to limit your exposure to large crowds of people. If you believe the coronavirus is coming to your neighborhood or if it already has, you may be tempted to stock up for longer than 30 days.
When Will the Coronavirus Slow Down?
No one knows. In order for the virus to stop spreading in significant numbers, each infected individual needs to infect less than 1 person. That isn’t happening yet, according to Business Insider. Currently, there are 102,000 people that have been infected with the virus and 3500 have died. It’s currently present in 93 countries. There have been a total of 17 deaths in the United States.
I can’t tell you whether to buy extra supplies or not, you will have to make that decision, according to your needs and the needs of your family. What’s important it to be aware of the spread and take certain precautions in order to reduce your risk of exposure.