I've noticed over several playthroughs that the duplicants apparently do whatever they want unless I'm in red alert, even if the priority is set to 9 and there's nothing obstructing it. They can be starving and refuse to listen to my increasingly desperate commands for them to harvest or make food, for instance, choosing instead to dig or make power or what have you.
Shouldn't a state of emergency (starvation, suffocation, etc) warrant an automatic priority shift superceding literally everything else?
Attempt to not die. Scream at computer. Repeat.