COVID-19 Bulletin: August 17

August 17, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices fell roughly 1.5% Monday on indications that the global spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant is hurting demand, particularly in China, where oil refining dropped to a 14-month low in July and daily crude processing fell to under 14 million bpd. 
  • Crude futures were mixed in mid-day trading, with WTI down 0.2% at $67.14/bbl and Brent up marginally at $69.54/bbl. Natural gas was 2.6% lower at $3.84/MMBtu.
  • Despite added pressure from the U.S. in recent weeks, reports are circulating that OPEC and its allies will not accelerate production increases faster than the currently planned 400,000-bpd per month. 
  • Fuel demand continues to rebound amid loosened pandemic restrictions in India, with gasoline sales up 3.7% in early August from the same period in 2019. 
  • Saudi Aramco is preparing to buy a 20% stake in India’s Reliance Industries’ oil refining and chemicals business, a deal reportedly worth up to $25 billion
  • Australian miner BHP Group is selling its petroleum business to Woodside Petroleum to create a top-10 oil and gas company worth roughly $28 billion, with assets centralized in Australia and the Americas.
  • The U.S.’s eighth-largest refiner, Citgo Petroleum, reported its first profit in seven quarters, boosted by higher fuel exports and the effects of a pipeline shutdown. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • More than 1,400 people and counting have died after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti Saturday, destroying at least 7,000 homes and pushing 30,000 people into the streets. A humanitarian crisis was worsened when Tropical Depression Grace hit the country Monday night, bringing strong winds, heavy rain, rough seas, landslides and flooding. 
  • Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida panhandle Monday afternoon, bringing sustained winds up to 60 mph and heavy rains that could drench the U.S. southeast through the week. Fred is the first of two storms expected to hit the U.S. this week after Tropical Storm Henri, the eighth named storm of the Atlantic season, formed near Bermuda Monday. 
  • California’s Dixie Fire, the largest in state history, spread to more than 550,000 acres Monday with just 31% containment after destroying more than 1,000 homes and businesses. State utility PG&E is expected to shut off power in 16 counties to prevent new blazes. 
  • Southern Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, formerly the nation’s largest, is now fully contained after burning more than 400,000 acres since July. 
  • Additional storms are expected to hit western Japan over the coming days, as rescue teams search for people who went missing after last weekend’s torrential downpours and flooding. 
  • The global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.67 degrees above the 20th century average in July:
July 2021 Was the Hottest Month on Record
  • Operations remain partially suspended at China’s Ningbo port, the world’s third busiest, after a single COVID-19 infection last week shut down a terminal handling 25% of the port’s volume. 
  • Following rival UPS, FedEx will raise surcharges for some packages ahead of this year’s holiday season, with forecasts showing continued high demand and increased operating costs. 
  • Mexico’s auto manufacturing and exports fell a respective 27% and 24% in July compared to the same time last year, as component shortages and supply chain disruptions continue to weigh on the industry. 
  • Global vehicle production is estimated to have dropped by another 107,000 units last week, an effect of the ongoing global chip shortage. 
  • User growth has surged in recent weeks for M-hub, a new mobile app for the plastics industry supply chain that provides access to leads, tools to learn about new technologies and avenues for product showcasing.


  • The U.S. reported 210,168 new COVID-19 infections and 686 virus fatalities Monday. 
  • U.S. COVID-19 cases now account for more than 20% of the world’s total current infections, a proportion not seen since February. Estimates show the country could see more than 200,000 new cases per day over the next two weeks. 
  • The U.S. administration is expected to soon recommend that all Americans get a third COVID-19 booster shot eight months after a second dose of the virus. 
  • Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Mississippi all set new records for daily averages of COVID-19 over the weekend.
The U.S. States Hit Hardest By the New COVID Wave
  • COVID-19 deaths among hospitalized patients are returning to previous highs in states with low vaccination rates, particularly Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri.  
  • Despite rising virus hospitalizations in Florida, the state’s governor has refused to declare another pandemic state of emergency, while hospitals in the state report greater strains on capacity amid a rush of virus patients.
  • More than 5,000 students and employees of one Florida school district either tested positive or were exposed to the virus in recent days, requiring quarantines and self-isolation, as other school districts in the state grapple with the fallout of defying state orders by imposing mask mandates. 
  • Texas has requested five mortuary trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the state prepares for a surge in COVID-19 fatalities.  
  • New York City became the largest U.S. city to require COVID-19 vaccines to access most indoor activities, including dining, as the city surpassed 1 million total infections since the start of the pandemic. 
  • New York state and Washington, D.C. will require all healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.
  • New Jersey’s seven-day moving average for COVID-19 cases rose to 1,461, up 24% from last week and 341% from last month. 
  • COVID-19 patients account for more than a quarter of all hospitalizations in Georgia, while nine of the state’s counties returned to remote learning almost immediately after fall classes began. 
  • Oklahoma’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate rose to 36% Monday, the highest in the country, as more than two dozen cases of the highly contagious Peruvian Lambda variant were reported in the state. 
  • Missouri surpassed 600,000 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the state’s seven-day rolling average for new cases climbing to 2,123, up from 1,295 a month ago.
  • Over 80% of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a milestone, while the state will offer voluntary COVID-19 testing in all K-12 public schools
  • Maryland’s pandemic state of emergency expired over the weekend despite the state’s positivity rate rising to 4.65%, with 766 new infections and five virus deaths reported Monday. 
  • The CDC lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for India to “moderate” while raising Turkey’s level to “very high.”
  • Battered by the pandemic, world travel has been decreasing amid rising virus cases in 2021:
International Travel Goes From Bad to Worse in Early 2021
  • Federal agents seized more than 3,000 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards headed to the U.S. from China, as people try to skirt mandates imposed by a greater number of U.S. cities and businesses. 
  • Pfizer/BioNTech submitted initial trial data to U.S. regulators for the possible approval of a dedicated third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Recent data showed a COVID-19 antibody cocktail made by Regeneron lowered the risk of hospitalization or death by roughly 70% in high-risk patients. 
  • Verizon announced it would delay its return-to-office date until November amid surging U.S. infections.
  • Delta fears and the end of government stimulus caused a larger-than-expected 1.1% drop in U.S. retail sales in July.  
  • The Federal Reserve could end large monthly asset purchases by mid-2022 amid signs of continued economic recovery from the pandemic, officials said. 
  • The pandemic is causing a growing number of companies to sit on record piles of money, with cash and short-term investments on corporate balance sheets climbing to $6.8 trillion, 45% higher than the average of the five years preceding the pandemic. 
  • Despite rising COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and among children, analysts predict back-to-school spending to rise 6.4% this quarter from a year ago, boosting sales for large retailers including Walmart and Target. 
  • Discount grocer chain Aldi will hire more than 20,000 additional workers and increase wages at its U.S. locations ahead of this year’s holiday season. 
  • Federal regulators are investigating Tesla’s autonomous driving system following 11 crashes since 2018 involving parked emergency-response vehicles. 


  • Japan will further expand emergency curbs to seven prefectures today, covering over 60% of the nation’s population. More than 14,900 new COVID-19 cases were reported Monday, including 2,962 in Tokyo. 
  • New Zealand is under a strict pandemic lockdown after a single COVID-19 case was reported in the largest city of Auckland, the nation’s first case in six months. 
  • Rising COVID-19 infections in Australia have prompted authorities in Melbourne and Canberra to extend pandemic restrictions for at least another two weeks. 
  • Malaysia’s prime minister resigned Monday after a public outcry over the government’s handling of the pandemic, as the country averages more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day with just 33% of its population vaccinated. 
  • The U.K. eased guidelines for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, saying they no longer need to self-isolate if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus. The nation reported 28,358 new virus infections Monday.
  • Turkey has begun offering COVID-19 booster shots made by Pfizer to those inoculated with China’s Sinovac vaccine, hoping to boost travel to western countries that have not approved the China-made shots.
  • COVID-19 vaccination levels in South American countries have been catching up to or surpassing that of the U.S., new data shows. 
  • Canada will require all federal employees, as well as air, cruise and rail passengers, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than the end of October, as the country looks to rebuild its travel industry.
  • A Canadian study suggests children younger than three may be more likely to transmit COVID-19 than their older counterparts. 
  • An Israeli study suggests third COVID-19 vaccines provide 250% greater protection than just two shots. 
  • Moderna announced a revised supply agreement with Canada for up to 105 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot candidate through 2024. 
  • Early clinical results of a second-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccine made by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline and Germany’s CureVac triggered high levels of antibodies against the Beta, Delta and Lambda variants of COVID-19. 
  • Key indicators of China’s economic rebound slowed in July, with industrial output rising just 6.4% compared to 8.3% in June and retail sales rising just 8.5% compared to 12.1% in June. 
  • The euro zone economy grew 2% from the first to the second quarter and remains roughly 3% smaller than it was at the end of 2019.
  • More than 182,000 positions were added to U.K. payrolls in July, with the country’s total employment approaching pre-pandemic levels with higher wages. The country saw a record rise in job vacancies to more than 1 million, as a labor shortage intensifies.
  • The lifting of pandemic restrictions helped Israel’s economy grow 15.4% in the second quarter after a 1.4% contraction in the first quarter, with the Bank of Israel expecting GDP to grow 5.5% for all of 2021.
  • South Korea’s Samsung Electronics unveiled a new sustainability platform for its mobile communications unit, pledging to eliminate all plastics in mobile packaging by 2025.   

Our Operations

  • M. Holland’s 3D Printing group offers a rapid response alternative for producing selected parts where resin availability is tight during prevailing force majeure. For more information, email our 3D Printing team.
  • Market Expertise: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers across nine strategic markets. To arrange a videoconference or meeting with any of our Market Managers, please visit our website.

Thank you,

M. Holland Company

We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.

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