A PANDEMIC HAS THROWN the U.S. financial system right into a tailspin. Thus far, nevertheless, the coronavirus hasn’t stopped Matthew Tubbs. The truck driver from Watertown, Wis., drives 400 miles a day, from a distribution middle in Oconomowoc to Goal shops all through the area, pulling a trailer full of items which may embody paper merchandise, clothes, or canned items.
On a typical day, Tubbs, 42, opens his firm app to verify his scheduled route, briefly stops on the workplace to gather his paperwork, inspects his tractor-trailer, and drives maybe a dozen or 100 miles to his vacation spot, the place he unhitches his load, switches trailers, then drives again to the place he got here from.
For Tubbs, it’s an atypical routine, though the highways bear indicators of the not-so-ordinary: Rush hour site visitors has largely disappeared, and eating places are closed at Illinois Tollway relaxation areas close to Chicago. One other new ritual: Tubbs cleans the inside of his assigned firm truck with disinfectant wipes earlier than hitting the street. On this Yr of the Coronavirus, even a principally remoted trucker should take precautions.
Truckers like Tubbs are one cog within the equipment that’s the world provide chain. Different cogs embody farmers, ocean freighters, producers, and retailers. Working in tandem, they create and ship the meals and merchandise we rely on every day. For many of us, it’s a machine we don’t take into consideration—a minimum of not till one thing goes fallacious.
Most People noticed early proof of the coronavirus pandemic not on the highways however within the supermarkets, the place we emptied the aisles of paper towels, bathroom paper, hand sanitizer, and flour. The sudden shortages urged the unthinkable: Might COVID-19, in addition to undercutting lives and livelihoods, additionally result in a meals disaster and the disappearance of products we take with no consideration?
Relating to that, this story incorporates excellent news and dangerous information.
Let’s begin with the great: A lot of the provide chain is working simply superb, a minimum of thus far. Tubbs can attest to it. In mid-March, amid U.S. panic shopping for, truck shipments surged. Tubbs hauled heavy a great deal of greater than 30,000 kilos, delivering to shops the place People had been stocking up on Charmin, Clorox wipes, and bottled water.
“Folks had been describing it just like the Christmas season,” Tubbs stated of the deliveries. His employer, J.B. Hunt, paid him a $500 bonus for working throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
Rest room paper and a few meals merchandise will probably proceed to promote rapidly. People caught at house are now not taking restroom breaks on the workplace or consuming in eating places, locations that buy commercial-grade bathroom paper and bulk meals from wholesalers. Demand on native grocery shops is up. However the absorbent paper mills, operating 24/7, can proceed to restock cabinets, and suppliers can shift meals to the retail market.