Seven days ago, amid the ongoing global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks, Supply Chain Matters published a blog that echoed calls for marshalling of all available manufacturing, supply chain and logistics resources across the United States to be prioritized toward healthcare delivery and food related supply chain needs.
We included words of wisdom from one academic expert, but we could have included the many more that continue to be voiced.
In seven days, the need among U.S. hospitals and first responders for personal protection, health delivery and other crucial supplies is reported as dire, especially in the New York City Metropolitan area, and soon, other major U.S. metropolitan areas.
How do we express clearly, that the condition signal is now URGENT.
We are not a blog that shares political viewpoints, and we beg our readers to bear with us, since political sensitivity be damned.
We have both human life and the integrity of our healthcare delivery networks in the balance. How clearly can news correspondents be, there will be needless deaths if extraordinary war time actions are not initiated NOW.
Previous commentaries have echoed basic and necessary actions:
Immediately acknowledge that society is in a state of war combating a global pandemic, and with that initiate the full powers of the U.S. Defense Production Act that allows the federal government to marshal any and all available domestic manufacturing and other supply chain resources to produce critically needed medical supplies.
Our country’s most skilled and knowledgeable experts in war time logistics reside across the U.S. military, and specifically within the Defense Logistics Agency.(DLA) Their capability has been proven in past conflicts- empower them and turn them loose on the objective at-hand in clearly prioritizing what products are critical and where they need to be delivered.
U.S. States cannot be expected to individually deal with market forces during a crisis- that approach defies the known realities of the market forces of demand and supply imbalance leading to products going to whomever bids the highest price. The Defense Production Act provides the power to prosecute those who attempt to individually profit in a war time crisis.
We also all need to provide a shout out to all of those manufacturers and businesses large and small who are stepping up right now to do their part in spite of a declared national priority. THANK YOU.
From a political lens, there is a brute reality check that existing supply networks related to healthcare personal protection, testing and drug suppliers originate across China. Washington needs to acknowledge that China can help in these efforts and defer ongoing trade and tariff actions and biases. It is time to extend a call for assistance in any way possible, egos aside.
We previously echoed the views of Professor Sandor Boyson (University of Maryland) in preserving operational supply chain logistics hubs across the United States to provide strategic command and control over critical supply chain assets, including air, sea and land.
Across the United States, the logistics professionals at FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and countless other air and surface carriers, large and small know what is required and how to accomplish the mission. Provide them the means to coordinate and prioritize all available resources in what Boyson described as a ‘U.S. Supply Chain Command’ capability. Let these partners turn loose their advanced tracking, tracing and GPS laden technologies to make real-time decisions of where products need to be routed or where bottlenecks need to be addressed.
Other experts continue to encourage online providers to prioritize delivery of needed medical/health and food products to vulnerable home bound populations. China and other countries provided learning in this need.
Providers such as Amazon, Instacart, Target, Walmart, and others are now marshalling added workers to make online the preferred mechanism of prioritized product needs. Adding to payrolls provides opportunities for those who have temporally lost employment to sustain needed income. Online and last mile delivery providers collectively need to take the steps that Amazon initiated, namely prioritizing inventory selection and delivery capabilities toward deemed essential products.
Local cities and towns have facilities in place to produce meals for disadvantaged children and high-risk populations such as the elderly meals on wheels programs. Afford these communities the physical and digital capabilities to supplement local last-mile food delivery needs.
Once again, allow all online providers to collaborate or provide national guidance.
We as online consumers have our own responsibilities during this crisis. Let us collectively focus on essential need and defer those nice to have personal luxury items to another day.
Finally, we as citizens of our world need to hold our business, political and other leaders accountable for making decisions for the public good as opposed to that of special interests.
There are political leaders such as the Governors of New York, Washington State, and California, to cite just three, that are demonstrating leadership, awareness and clear direction.
We need the federal government to step-up as the national leader in this effort, not just as the cheerleader.
Pass this along, not only for our global citizen sake, but for the sake of our dedicated healthcare professionals, first responders and those that deliver community services each and every day.
We are in a state of war with a virus- let us have the resolve to come together for the common good.
Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor