Expert Pitch
Northern Arizona University

Empty shelves not an indicator of a broken supply chain: Big data maps out critical U.S. supply chains amid COVID-19 pandemic

26-Mar-2020 12:55 PM EDT, by Northern Arizona University

For the millions of Americans concerned about shortages of vital supplies like toilet paper, food basics and other items vital to getting us through an unprecedented global health crisis, there is some encouraging news, according to researchers at Northern Arizona University.

The U.S. supply chains are proving resilient in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are points of concern that decision-makers, emergency managers and the public should consider, said Benjamin Ruddell, director of the National Science Foundation-funded FEWSION Project led out of NAU.

FEWSION, which uses comprehensive data mapping to monitor domestic supply chains, shows the connections between all U.S. counties. As several states and major metropolitan areas have moved into lockdowns or stay-at-home orders and the demand for certain goods, particularly medical supplies, has increased, the supply-chain relationships indicate potential risk areas. Knowing these areas of concern can help communities and states plan and give confidence to consumers as they understand how resilient their supply chains are. FEW-View™, the supply chain visualization website, is available to the public.

See linked FEWSION briefing, containing maps, data, and analysis of U.S. supply chains, for decisionmakers and reporters.

This provisional information should not be used for critical emergency management decisions or major national-scale media without talking to an expert like Dr. Ruddell first. The information must be interpreted correctly during this emergency situation. There are many caveats and nuances that must be considered when using data.

Critical take-aways:

  • Big Apple medical supplies are coming from as far as the West Coast. New York City’s supply of medical instruments, including ventilators, comes largely from Los Angeles and San Francisco, with Salt Lake City, Utah, Washington, D.C. and the New York metro area also supplying these goods.
  • The basics are being “made in America”. Goods like food and toilet paper largely are sourced inside the United States. This does not mean there has been no disruption of the supply chain—for instance, four of the top 10 suppliers of toilet paper are in areas under some form of lockdown or stay-at-home order—at this point the shortage in stores is largely due to bottlenecks at distribution.
  • How's the supply chain working? It's complicated. Although most food is domestic, the supply chain is complicated. This means disruptions to the food processing and distribution warehouse network are a far greater challenge from a pandemic, as opposed to disruptions to farms. It’s also more diverse, which makes it more resilient.
  • The system is resilient, and it will have to be. Not all U.S. cities and regions will be affected at the same time. Although capacity may be strained in specific supply chains (e.g. groceries, medical supplies), the structure of the overall system is resilient, diverse and adaptable.
  • Our 49th and 50th states pose a major challenge. Some areas are at much greater risk of disruption. Western cities, along with Alaska and Hawaii, pose unique supply chain challenges because of geographic isolation and their relatively high self-sufficiency.
  • Rural supply chains are stretched. The same is true for rural communities due to their generally narrow and fragile supply chains (e.g. one truck once a week from one warehouse). While these communities are not themselves especially vulnerable to COVID-19, they also often have few options for supply and may find themselves with large (in relative terms) shortages if distribution is disrupted.


Filters close

Showing results

110 of 2528
10-Jul-2020 9:00 AM EDT
Long-term strategies to control COVID-19 pandemic must treat health and economy as equally important, argue researchers
University of Cambridge

Strategies for the safe reopening of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) from months of strict social distancing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic must recognise that preserving people’s health is as important as reviving the economy, argue an international team of researchers.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 3:05 PM EDT
Simple blood test can predict severity of COVID-19 for some patients
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

An early prognosis factor that could be a key to determining who will suffer greater effects from COVID-19, and help clinicians better prepare for these patients, may have been uncovered by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Results of the findings were published today in the International Journal of Laboratory Hematology.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 12:50 PM EDT
Genetic ‘fingerprints’ of first COVID-19 cases help manage pandemic
University of Sydney

A new study published in the world-leading journal Nature Medicine, reveals how genomic sequencing and mathematical modelling gave important insights into the ‘parentage’ of cases and likely spread of the disease in New South Wales.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 12:35 PM EDT
Our itch to share helps spread COVID-19 misinformation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

To stay current about the Covid-19 pandemic, people need to process health information when they read the news. Inevitably, that means people will be exposed to health misinformation, too, in the form of false content, often found online, about the illness.

Newswise: Pandemic Inspires Framework for Enhanced Care in Nursing Homes
Released: 10-Jul-2020 12:25 PM EDT
Pandemic Inspires Framework for Enhanced Care in Nursing Homes
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

As of May 2020, nursing home residents account for a staggering one-third of the more than 80,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. This pandemic has resulted in unprecedented threats—like reduced access to resources needed to contain and eliminate the spread of the virus—to achieving and sustaining care quality even in the best nursing homes. Active engagement of nursing home leaders in developing solutions responsive to the unprecedented threats to quality standards of care delivery is required.

Newswise: General Electric Healthcare Chooses UH to Clinically 
Evaluate First-of-its-kind Imaging System
Released: 10-Jul-2020 12:15 PM EDT
General Electric Healthcare Chooses UH to Clinically Evaluate First-of-its-kind Imaging System
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center physicians completed evaluation for the GE Healthcare Critical Care Suite, and the technology is now in daily clinical practice – flagging between seven to 15 collapsed lungs per day within the hospital. No one on the team could have predicted the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this technology and future research with GEHC may enhance the capability to improve care for COVID-19 patients in the ICU. Critical Care Suite is now assisting in COVID and non-COVID patient care as the AMX 240 travels to intensive care units within the hospital.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 11:50 AM EDT
COVID-19 Can Be Transmitted in the Womb, Reports Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

A baby girl in Texas – born prematurely to a mother with COVID-19 – is the strongest evidence to date that intrauterine (in the womb) transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can occur, reports The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the official journal of The European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 9:45 AM EDT
How COVID-19 Shifted Inpatient Imaging Utilization
Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute

As medical resources shifted away from elective and non-urgent procedures toward emergent and critical care of COVID-19 patients, departments were forced to reconfigure their personnel and resources. In particular, many Radiology practices rescheduled non-urgent and routine imaging according to recommendations from the American College of Radiology (ACR). This new Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute study, published online in the Journal of American College of Radiology (JACR), evaluates the change in the inpatient imaging volumes and composition mix during the COVID-19 pandemic within a large healthcare system.

Released: 10-Jul-2020 9:00 AM EDT
Team is first in Texas to investigate convalescent plasma for prevention of COVID-19 onset and progression
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

A research team is the first in Texas to investigate whether plasma from COVID-19 survivors can be used in outpatient settings to prevent the onset and progression of the virus in two new clinical trials at UTHealth.

Showing results

110 of 2528