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Shortage Struggles

By Christopher Liu

Throughout the pandemic, the global economy has seen supply chain shortages of varying severity. From medical equipment and masks to electronics and car parts, it has become extremely difficult to source essential equipment for all sorts of professions and hobbies. With the American technology company Nvidia estimating that shortages on computer chips will last well into 2022, impacting almost all industries that make use of computers, that is to say, almost every industry in our day and age, it is no surprise that supply issues are going to affect almost everyone for the foreseeable future.

Artwork by Shadia Zayer

Gas prices spike to the highest levels since the lockdown, and the shortage of masks spread to other supplies that leave store shelves vacant.

Hospitals around the world have struggled with COVID-19 induced scarcity, especially due to the recent rise of the delta variant in the past few months. Despite the U.S. government utilizing the country’s Defense Production Act to amplify production in early 2020, a whole array of essential medical equipment has come into short supply over the course of the pandemic, starting with masks and other personal protective equipment in early 2020, and spreading to items like ventilators and defibrillators.

“Staff are overworked because they don’t have the necessary tools to function...”

“At Open Insulin, we saw a distinct increase in public fear about access to medications like insulin during two major events, Brexit and COVID, when medical supply chains were forced to shift operations or produce larger volumes on an already strained system," said senior Anitta Kottai, a student research assistant for a group that aims to make insulin accessible to more people.

They stress the impact of supply shortages not only on patients, who often have to ration their medications due to lack of access to adequate care, but also on the healthcare workers who have to aid them.

“Staff are overworked because they don’t have the necessary tools to function,” said Kottai and New Hyde Park alumnus Adithya Krishnan.

Another industry that has been greatly affected by supply issues is that of computer parts and other electronics.

“I got some family members with multiple devices per each of us to attempt a purchase,” said math teacher Mr. Maltese.

Mr. Maltese has spent the past year competing against thousands of other customers to try and acquire a PlayStation 5, a hot item that has struggled since its launch in November 2020 to stay available on online storefronts for longer than a few minutes at a time. It took Mr. Maltese’s family checking out for him on nine devices at once before one of them managed to strike gold. Other students at New Hyde Park have encountered similar difficulties.

“I can’t play Genshin on high settings at 60FPS!” said senior Laurence Lai, who emotionally described his struggles over the pandemic in obtaining upgrades for his computer.

Laurence has been trying to purchase a graphics card, a component severely impacted by supply shortages, in order to play games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. On reselling platforms such as Ebay, newer graphics cards are typically selling for two to three times their typical cost, with the $500 RTX 3070 boasting a going rate of upwards of $1,000. Despite joining Discord servers and following Twitter accounts that notify when these valuable components are restocked, he’s still been unable to obtain one, leaving him resigned to play games like Cookie Run on his phone instead.

For the time being, it seems like New Hyde Park students, like the rest of the world, may just have to wait for certain products if they are not willing to brave the fierce competition that comes with lining up outside of stores or assembling a myriad of devices to snag items online. For seniors who already have job experience or are planning to start working after graduation, supply chain issues seem to be a problem that is certain to affect almost all fields of work for the coming few years.


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