Commissary, Exchange Suppliers Stock Up on Critical Items Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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Freedom's Choice bottled water is one of the many products sold under the Defense Commissary Agency's private label program. (Kevin Robinson/DeCA)
Freedom's Choice bottled water is one of the many products sold under the Defense Commissary Agency's private label program. (Kevin Robinson/DeCA)

The American Logistics Association, the supplier for the commissary and exchange systems, is "ramping up" its inventory of critical items and increasing airlifts to bases in areas affected by the coronavirus as the disease continues its spread, it announced Monday.

With about 83,000 people diagnosed worldwide and nearly 2,860 deaths so far, according to the latest World Health Organization report, coronavirus -- formally known as COVID-19 -- has led to a temporary travel prohibition for troops stationed in the Middle East and may result in base lockdowns as far west as Germany.

To help those areas already affected and prepare for others, the ALA and Department of Defense Military Resale Activities have created a "Resale Reaction" campaign via Twitter. This lets service members, military families and military resale activity workers provide local updates on issues that might affect the military supply chain.

"These communications are designed to help open more doors to product flow and provide a feedback and information interchange to enhance the ability of the supply chain to ensure product follow to any trouble or hot spots," ALA staff said in a news release. "This information sharing is designed to ease bottlenecks, ensure product availability, control rumors, and identify hot spots for remedy."

Related: Closures at US Bases in Italy Continue as Coronavirus Spreads"

The trade organization is preparing its partners for a "scarcity environment," where military suppliers will compete with commercial suppliers for products in areas affected by the coronavirus, such as Italy, South Korea and Japan. The ALA said it hopes to implement a stateside rotation base for personnel and increase production so the entire resale system can mobilize when affected commissaries and exchanges experience difficulties.

The news release said it is especially important to provide this increased assistance as some overseas military bases are closing or curtailing operations for facilities, schools and community programs.

"Outbreaks are inherently frightening," ALA staff wrote in the news release. "You can't see it until you feel it. And communication is critical. We will be gathering information from a number of sources, including the worldwide network of industry employees working on the bases and in the stores."

More information can be found at ALA's website here.

-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at dorothy.mills-gregg@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DMillsGregg.

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