Delta Variant Snarling Back-to-Office Plans, as PPE Supply Chain in Precarious State

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 28, 2021

The rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has thrown the reopening plans of several major companies back into question, as their leaders reevaluate the situation, especially as a shaky supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) could mean a repeat of the shortages that characterized the early pandemic. 

The New York Times noted that many companies, seeing rising vaccination rates and the end of indoor mask mandates, eagerly looked forward to at least partially reopening their offices. However with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommending that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors, businesses that had just weeks ago been planning to refill their offices are now grappling with the decision about whether to reverse course. At least one company has delayed existing plans to reopen, while others are continuing to mull the possibility. While companies have previously been hesitant to enact vaccine mandates, despite federal guidance allowing them to do so, the Times said that more may consider imposing one in light of these new developments. 

Those who do choose to stay the course on reopening plans will likely need to buy PPE, but Bloomberg is reporting that the supply chain is in a precarious state, where even a minor shock could resurrect the massive shortages that were seen in the pandemic's early stages. This is because, as more people got vaccinated, sales began flagging, which led some companies to stop production. While masks themselves are still being made in sufficient quantities, other items such as nitrile gloves and surgical gowns are not. It is likely that these supplies will be further stressed when the Delta variant cases further accelerate. Thus, it is important to develop a consistent supply chain, though it is unknown whether this can be done in time. 

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