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Midwesterner here. It’s similar in my city. Certain dry goods – mostly canned beans, soup, tuna, etc. – have been consistently on the shelves, but at significantly lower stock levels than pre-pandemic. TP and baby wipes are pretty reliably available, but again there seems to be much less in stock. Only some of the other big panic-buy items are still hard to find – hand soap shows up maybe once a month. I haven’t seen disinfectant cleaners in months. We have kept limits on a lot of those things as well. I’ve been working in the grocery industry through all of this, and customers shopping in the store have been shopping fairly “normally” the past couple months. Grocery delivery/curbside is still very popular in my area. We are often out of specific brands or flavors of things customers want (a lot of suppliers are only making core varieties of their product right now), but there is almost always a good alternative in stock. The strawberry shortage you mentioned definitely seems odd. Here, sometimes a few days will go by without certain kinds of tomato, or certain sizes of packaged berries, but there is typically always something, at least. Overall it seems like the grocery supply chain is functioning enough for most people to get most things they need, but it definitely has not returned to pre-pandemic standards. If large numbers of people do start panic-buying again, it probably wouldn’t take much to overwhelm the system as it stands.

Unfortunately, I think it’s realism, not pessimism. I’m right there with you. Like you said, it’s many different (yet related) problems converging to create a whopping mess. We’ve got economically desperate people, politically unsatisfied/outraged people, masses of disgruntled “essential” workers, widespread mental health crises due to increased stress and isolation, and a largely uncontrolled pandemic. Any one of these factors on its own is enough to incite chaos. And we are dealing with all of them concurrently. I am counting on more unrest. Protests, demonstrations, looting, rioting. Perhaps more intense/prolonged than we have seen. Also, I have noticed, on more than one occasion, words like “civil war” and “revolution” being thrown around – not just by strangers on the internet, but by people in my own social circles. Not trying to get political or fearmonger here – but I think it’s reasonable to say that, on the off chance those words have ANY bearing on future events, perhaps it is worth taking that into consideration from a prepping standpoint. Not that I have any idea how to prepare for something like that, specifically. Either way, I am genuinely concerned about the ability of our society to function in a meaningful way moving forward, given the challenges we are facing. As much as I’d like to be optimistic and believe we will pull it together as a society and improve our collective situation, our inadequate attempts at handling… well, anything… this year don’t inspire much confidence. So, yes, I am concerned. The past few weeks, I have had the overwhelming urge to run from what feels like an increasingly bad situation. It seems crazy to feel like that. But as much as I want to be “sane” and not give into a vague, unfounded sense of fear, I think that there are valid reasons to be concerned and even afraid right now. But I am determined to put that fear to good use. What, practically, are our options? Bug out and seek refuge somewhere more stable? Stock up on enough essentials to last the winter and hope for the best? Become mole people? Seriously, though… how does one prepare for a “vortex of awful?” All I can think to do, in addition to my “normal” prepping practices, is try to rearrange certain aspects of my life to better adapt to the situation. Mainly, my goals have been to lower my exposure risk, reduce stress and develop a strategy for dealing with potential unrest in my area. For example, I left my high-risk, highly stressful “essential” job for a lower-risk, less stressful position. I’m continuing to look for remote work, which would be ideal. Also, I’m in a densely populated suburb of a major city, so – unlike last time around – I have thought about where I could go if my area becomes unsafe. Beyond that, I’m not sure what else there is to do.

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Midwesterner here. It’s similar in my city. Certain dry goods – mostly canned beans, soup, tuna, etc. – have been consistently on the shelves, but at significantly lower stock levels than pre-pandemic. TP and baby wipes are pretty reliably available, but again there seems to be much less in stock. Only some of the other big panic-buy items are still hard to find – hand soap shows up maybe once a month. I haven’t seen disinfectant cleaners in months. We have kept limits on a lot of those things as well. I’ve been working in the grocery industry through all of this, and customers shopping in the store have been shopping fairly “normally” the past couple months. Grocery delivery/curbside is still very popular in my area. We are often out of specific brands or flavors of things customers want (a lot of suppliers are only making core varieties of their product right now), but there is almost always a good alternative in stock. The strawberry shortage you mentioned definitely seems odd. Here, sometimes a few days will go by without certain kinds of tomato, or certain sizes of packaged berries, but there is typically always something, at least. Overall it seems like the grocery supply chain is functioning enough for most people to get most things they need, but it definitely has not returned to pre-pandemic standards. If large numbers of people do start panic-buying again, it probably wouldn’t take much to overwhelm the system as it stands.

Unfortunately, I think it’s realism, not pessimism. I’m right there with you. Like you said, it’s many different (yet related) problems converging to create a whopping mess. We’ve got economically desperate people, politically unsatisfied/outraged people, masses of disgruntled “essential” workers, widespread mental health crises due to increased stress and isolation, and a largely uncontrolled pandemic. Any one of these factors on its own is enough to incite chaos. And we are dealing with all of them concurrently. I am counting on more unrest. Protests, demonstrations, looting, rioting. Perhaps more intense/prolonged than we have seen. Also, I have noticed, on more than one occasion, words like “civil war” and “revolution” being thrown around – not just by strangers on the internet, but by people in my own social circles. Not trying to get political or fearmonger here – but I think it’s reasonable to say that, on the off chance those words have ANY bearing on future events, perhaps it is worth taking that into consideration from a prepping standpoint. Not that I have any idea how to prepare for something like that, specifically. Either way, I am genuinely concerned about the ability of our society to function in a meaningful way moving forward, given the challenges we are facing. As much as I’d like to be optimistic and believe we will pull it together as a society and improve our collective situation, our inadequate attempts at handling… well, anything… this year don’t inspire much confidence. So, yes, I am concerned. The past few weeks, I have had the overwhelming urge to run from what feels like an increasingly bad situation. It seems crazy to feel like that. But as much as I want to be “sane” and not give into a vague, unfounded sense of fear, I think that there are valid reasons to be concerned and even afraid right now. But I am determined to put that fear to good use. What, practically, are our options? Bug out and seek refuge somewhere more stable? Stock up on enough essentials to last the winter and hope for the best? Become mole people? Seriously, though… how does one prepare for a “vortex of awful?” All I can think to do, in addition to my “normal” prepping practices, is try to rearrange certain aspects of my life to better adapt to the situation. Mainly, my goals have been to lower my exposure risk, reduce stress and develop a strategy for dealing with potential unrest in my area. For example, I left my high-risk, highly stressful “essential” job for a lower-risk, less stressful position. I’m continuing to look for remote work, which would be ideal. Also, I’m in a densely populated suburb of a major city, so – unlike last time around – I have thought about where I could go if my area becomes unsafe. Beyond that, I’m not sure what else there is to do.