COVID-19, One Year Later

Food Logistics begins looking back at how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the supply chain landscape one year later.

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My fiance’s birthday is today, March 10. In 2020, he had the most normal birthday any 23-year-old could have – went out and grabbed drinks, gave and received hugs, and blew candles out on a cake. My birthday, just 12 days later, was the exact opposite, as the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic and states started to go into official lockdowns.

First originating in China, the virus has spread globally. At the time of this publication, over 117 million cases have been reported, with 2.6 million people dying of the virus. Just one year later, disruptions continue as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted the supply chain industry as orders stopped or were being delayed. Large public events were canceled, postponed and then eventually canceled again. Broadway dimmed its lights. Companies like Microsoft, Google and even Food Logistics had employees working from home in order to stop the spread. However, this led to a decline in economic activity and unemployment reached an all-time high.

“You see white and blue-collar labor being affected. It’s not just about having difficulties in re-hiring, but it’s also about being able to keep your staff healthy and safe,” Koray Köse, Gartner told Supply & Demand Chain Executive at the beginning of the pandemic last year. “We want to prevent spread, but we also want to balance productivity and make staffs feel safe. If someone gets infected, then you’ll have to re-hire, re-train and then experience a recovery period that impacts your productivity and a shutdown.”

Stock-outs became normalized, delivery times got longer and fear was a common feeling, but as we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, it leaves many to wonder how well we have actually adjusted to this “New Normal” that we all speak about.

With vaccines being rolled out across the country, a survey released by NielsenIQ found that 64% of respondents said they won’t take the vaccination when it’s available to them.

“The conversation surrounding the vaccine has been dominated by logistics -- drug administration approvals, the speed of production rates, countries vying to secure enough doses to vaccinate their populations, and most recently, concerns around scaling and speeding up the rollout in countries around the world,” Scott McKenzie, global intelligence leader, NielsenIQ, said  in a press release. “Confidence levels around the vaccines and the desire to take the vaccines certainly may change as countries begin more concerted rollouts and deliver education campaigns around the vaccines. But, clear signals indicate that the arrival of vaccines won’t automatically flip a switch to put the world back on its pre-COVID path.”

That is why Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive is taking a look back at our COVID-19 coverage to see how the supply chain has transformed in a special new series called "COVID-19, One Year Later." Stay tuned for more content coming up as the editorial staff deep dives into past articles, videos and podcasts while comparing and contrasting with what we know today and what we wish we knew then.

It’ll be interesting to see what all has changed in a year.