Major Flooding in China is Disrupting PPE Supply Chains, Delaying Shipments
Sourcing PPE, while lucrative for promo businesses, has also been challenging. Things could get a bit tougher now, as flooding has impacted major production hubs in China, including those manufacturing PPE for shipment to the U.S.
Reuters reported that the central city of Wuhan along with the provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang declared red alerts as heavy rains caused flooding in rivers and lakes.
“It’s just creating another major roadblock here in terms of PPE getting to the United States," Michael Einhorn, president of U.S. medical supply distributor Dealmed, told Reuters. “It is the worst of times for it to happen, but that’s what we’re dealing with right now. We cannot get product out for over a week, which is a very long time in our business.”
Large parts of China were reeling from the worst floods in decades, as disruption mounted for supply chains, including for PPE, vital in the fight against the coronavirus https://t.co/YJxCbIP0PZ pic.twitter.com/0KYBdhDneV
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 17, 2020
Einhorn estimated that delays could be as long as three weeks. In the context of a global pandemic and spiking infection numbers in the U.S., that is three weeks that medical professionals might not have.
According to Reuters, a third of China’s total non-woven fabric product exports come from Xiantao, just west of Wuhan. The nearby Three Gorges dam is reportedly 10 meters higher than its warning level and has hit 50,000 cubic meters per second of inflows during the rainy season.
For companies and health care providers who depend on PPE from China, this complicates an already tricky supply chain. While PPE supply is largely better off than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, some frontline health providers are still reporting shortages, while other facilities are still looking to stock up for future surges.
“We’re five months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks,” Deborah Burger, president of National Nurses United, told the AP a couple of weeks ago. “They’re being doled out, and we’re still being told to reuse them.”
China obviously is not the only manufacturing hub for the globe, and a good handful of apparel manufacturers have used their capabilities both in the U.S. and in other nearby countries to boost supply. But roadblocks remain, like Los Angeles Apparel’s manufacturing facility closing due to hundreds of active COVID-19 cases and four deaths while workers made products like masks and hospital gowns for health care workers.
The initial COVID-19 outbreak in China impacted international supply chains for months, and this most recent disruption comes at an inopportune time for the U.S.