The submitter’s doctor has been sending daily emails with COVID-19 updates. One update contained today’s malaphor. Here’s the whole paragraph:
It’s happening. Antivirals, old drugs, and new drugs, monoclonal antibodies, filters, passive use of recovered patient serum. When the chips are falling apart, that is when we find the strength to rebuild. That is who we are.
This is a mashup of “when the chips are down” (a stuation has become difficult) and “let the chips fall where they may” (allow events to unfold naturally). Both expressions have the word “chips” in them, probably the source of the conflation. Also, “things are falling apart” (collapsing or breaking down) is probably in the mix, considering “falling apart” is part of the malaphor and it fits in context. A shout out to Barry Eigen who spotted this one. Barry also noted that in 2016 the chips in chip credit cards were falling apart. https://jennstrathman.com/chip-cards-already-falling-apart/.