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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Throughout the early months of January to March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic generated shock waves worldwide. Hospitals struggled to provide the required medical personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard their staff and emergency personnel. Fragile medical logistics infrastructure only exacerbated the crisis. Changes to medical supply chains had transformed almost unnoticeably in the quest for low-cost suppliers and rested on precarious single-source international manufacturing centers. This essay will highlight some of the challenges of contemporary medical supply chains, specifically PPE, such as face masks, surgical gloves, and medical gowns. However, the focus is primarily on masks, with the 3M company serving as a case study. This paper will review three proposed alterations to the existing system and the costs and benefits associated with each to improve PPE logistics infrastructure. They are as follows: multi-nodal production sites for critical materials located in different geographic regions, government-coordinated public-private partnerships to map crucial medical supply chain networks, and establish trusted partners. The United States government should remove barriers and encourage companies to promote transparent supply chains and identify potential choke points and risks while creating backup systems to support distribution when disaster strikes.

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