For many years, America was the land of abundance. If shoppers needed a household staple, they could usually get it in an instant.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed all that. With supply lines around the world choking, we have all had to get used to waiting to buy certain products.
The specific types of products in short supply wax and wane. One month, toilet paper can’t be found. A few months later, rental cars have disappeared.
As summer winds down, a new list of products is in short supply, along with continued shortages. Following are a handful of things that may require patience if you need or want them soon.
1. Tennis balls
Hoping to channel your inner Novak Djokovic? Grab your racket — and prepare to wait.
The humble tennis ball has disappeared from store shelves and online retail sites alike. Vice reports that port delays are to blame, with ships arriving on the U.S. West Coast only to find the ports understaffed.
Yes, most of us were hopeful a few weeks back that the coronavirus pandemic was nearly over. Sadly, we were wrong.
With the Delta variant now ripping through the U.S., more patients are turning up at doctor’s offices and hospitals. And it appears there are not enough nurses to meet the demand.
National Public Radio reports that four states — Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oregon — are seeing nursing staffs “badly strained” as COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record levels.
3. Paper bags
Stop by McDonald’s in the near future, and you might have a tough time getting a “to-go” bag. The fast-food giant recently informed restaurant owners of the need to limit orders of bags from suppliers, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Use of such bags is running ahead of last year’s pace, which already was considered to be high. McDonald’s says any impact on customers has been minimal so far but adds, “we will continue to watch closely.”
4. Industrial real estate
The widespread product shortages of the past year have not gone unnoticed. As companies look to keep more stock on hand, it is causing increased demand for storage space. As a result, industrial real estate vacancy rates sank to 5%, near all-time lows, earlier this year.
Market demand should continue at an unprecedented pace throughout 2021, according to a Logistics Management report.
5. Hospital beds
Hospital beds are in short supply, and for a grim reason: More patients with COVID-19 need them.
In Alabama, for example, frontline health care workers are desperately trying to stretch resources as intensive care units fill up, according to a Montgomery Advertiser report. The entire state of Arkansas had just eight empty ICU beds as of last week, NPR reports.
Record firearms sales have combined with the pandemic to pressure ammunition supplies, leaving a shortage that is impacting not just everyday gun owners, but also law enforcement agencies.
ABC News reports that manufacturers are working hard to keep up, but “many gun store shelves are empty and prices keep rising.”
Even in the best of times, shortages of donated blood are a major problem. But things have only gotten worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
The American Red Cross said at the end of July that the nation is facing a “severe blood shortage due to a rise in hospital demand for blood products.” According to the Red Cross:
“All blood types are needed, particularly type O, as well as platelets. With only about a day supply of type O blood, there is an emergency need for type O donors. Type O is the most needed blood group by hospitals.”
8. Computer chips
Automakers and computer manufacturers are desperate to get their hands on computer chips so they can start moving products again. But for many months now, such microchips have been scarce thanks to global supply chain problems.
Unfortunately, the latest news is not great. Bloomberg reports that companies now have to wait more than 20 weeks to get chips. If anything, the shortage is growing worse, not better.
From the moment the pandemic made its unwelcome arrival, Americans have sought canine companionship in record numbers. That has created a shortage of available pups across the nation. But the problem has gotten even worse lately thanks to the re-emergence of an old foe: rabies.
Axios reports that as demand for dogs has soared, illegal dog imports into the U.S. have caused an increase in rabies cases. Rabies and other diseases that leap from dogs to humans are “cropping up in places where they were all but eradicated, a result of unscrupulous imports from countries with looser hygiene laws and health oversight,” according to Axios.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cracked down, issuing a temporary suspension of the importation of dogs from more than 100 countries, which went into effect in July. That is helping to fuel a shortage in a land where the annual demand for pooches stands at 8 million.
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