Supply chain issues create a disposable mask shortage

WASHINGTON (WOWK) — Supply chain shortages have negatively affected industries throughout the country, but one in particular has health officials concerned. Just as COVID numbers are trickling up, the country is experiencing a shortage of disposable face masks.

Why is there a shortage?

“In terms of a general shortage of some PPE products that exist in North America and the U.S.,” said Greg Tsagris—the President of Phoenix Quality Manufacturing, a face mask manufacturer in Jackson, Ohio—”It’s related to a global supply chain issue that we’re going through—one related to COVID-19 and the second related to the flow of goods because of the supplier’s employee shortage.”

He said another reason for the shortage is the need for face masks has not been consistent. “One of the things with masks, it’s not like food products where there’s a steady demand, because people need to eat every day. Masks have [their] flow based on previous flare-ups,” Tsagris said. “We had the original COVID-19 that caused a flare-up, the delta variant caused a flare-up, and now we’re having omicron and that’s causing flare-ups and an increase in purchases.”

What can companies do to ensure they’re getting a constant flow?

“The one thing that we always advocate is buying locally and buying based in the U.S. By supporting local supply chains and local manufacturers in Ohio and surrounding areas in the United States, we’re supporting having production and means of production that’s over here,” explained Tsagris.

He said companies taking these steps would eliminate lengthy over-sea logistic chains, products would be available in times of crisis, and “if countries around the world have to shut down their borders because of COVID-19 or future pandemics we have local supplies here.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there are a few options for anyone if they are ever without a disposable face mask, including using cloth masks.