COVID-19 Bulletin: August 25

August 25, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices extended gains Tuesday, rising 3% for the day and 8% so far for the week, a sharp reversal from last week’s biggest drop in nine months. Futures were mixed in morning trading, with WTI down 0.2% at $67.44/bbl and Brent up 0.3% at $70.26/bbl. Natural gas was 2.1% higher at $3.98/MMBtu.
  • After a several-month hiatus, the U.S. will resume leasing federal lands for oil and gas development with a Gulf of Mexico auction slated for October. 
  • PetroChina, Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, swung to a first-quarter profit of $4.3 billion, a combined effect of rising crude prices and increased fuel demand, following a loss in the same period last year. 
  • Houston-based Occidental Petroleum followed Hess and Chevron in requiring COVID-19 vaccines for some employees, while the company also extended a remote work option until at least November.
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Wildfires are continuing to rage:
    • California’s Caldor Fire has grown to more than 117,000 acres with just 9% containment, as it crawls toward the populated Lake Tahoe basin
    • Northern California’s Dixie Fire, the state’s largest ever, grew to more than 731,000 acres with just 41% containment Tuesday. 
    • Minnesota’s Greenwood Fire, which started nine days ago, has burned at least 19,000 acres near the Canadian border and is 0% contained. The blaze nearly doubled in size from Monday to Tuesday. 
    • The U.S. Forest Service will begin closing nine national parks in California beginning Monday as the Labor Day weekend approaches and Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources is closing campsites at a state park along the North Shore due to ongoing wildfires. 
  • Berthing operations have resumed at China’s Ningbo port terminal that was shut down the past two weeks after a single worker tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Weeks of congestion is expected for ships traveling through the Panama Canal, with maintenance on the waterway set to begin in the next few days and last until Sept. 10.  
  • More than 90% of the seafaring employees of HMM, South Korea’s largest container shipper, have voted to strike over wage disputes.
  • Labor shortages due to COVID-19 disruptions are beginning to impact industrial production, with several manufacturers unable to scale up production despite surging global demand. 
  • Kuwait will allow its shipping operations to continue despite suspending passenger sea travel over concerns about spreading COVID-19. 
  • The global semiconductor shortage is likely to persist for the rest of the year if rising COVID-19 infections keep factories in Southeast Asia shut, officials at the Bank of Japan warned. 
  • Pilot Freight Services is partnering with less-than-truckload carrier American Linehaul to boost intercity capacity for its e-commerce business.  
  • McDonald’s has temporarily removed milkshakes and bottled beverages from menus in the U.K. due to unspecified supply shortages.
  • Union Pacific will increase the amount of biodiesel fuel used in locomotives made by Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, to lower its carbon emissions. 
  • Chevron plans to build 10 more facilities to convert cow manure into biomethane for long-haul freight trucks, expanding efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.   

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 135,245 new COVID-19 cases and 1,405 virus fatalities Tuesday. 
  • The nation’s top medical advisor suggested full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson could come in the next several months
  • South Dakota reported a 312% increase in COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks, the largest increase in the country. More than 780 infections were recorded Tuesday, the most since January. 
  • Georgia is averaging roughly 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 among children per day, as the state’s governor deployed National Guard members to assist in the operation of overwhelmed hospitals.
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations in southeast Texas topped 4,000 Monday, while 89 hospitals in the state ran out of ICU beds last week, a record. 
  • Arkansas, with one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates of just 40%, has run out of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, a pandemic first. 
  • Virginia reported more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, the most since February. 
  • Oregon will impose a mask mandate for most public outdoor settings regardless of a person’s vaccination status, as the state reported just 47 available ICU beds in hospitals overwhelmed with virus patients. 
  • New York’s new governor is calling on state officials to enact a vaccine-or-test mandate for all the state’s school employees. 
  • COVID-19 infections and quarantines among schoolchildren increased 55% over the past week in New Orleans, as Louisiana reported record virus deaths yesterday. The state’s public university system is requiring all students to be vaccinated
  • Unvaccinated Californians were five times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus compared to fully vaccinated peers.  
  • With its seven-day average COVID-19 death rate at a record 297, Florida became the only state registering more fatalities than it did during the winter virus wave. 
  • The CDC added six countries — Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, Morocco, the Bahamas and St. Martin in the Caribbean — to its high-risk travel list for COVID-19.
  • Disney Cruise Line will require passengers over age 12 to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a rebuff to the Florida governor’s recent warning of fines for cruise ships that impose vaccine mandates.
  • A new CDC report shows that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in frontline workers dropped to 66% once the Delta variant became the country’s dominant strain, compared to a prior 91% efficacy. 
  • Deloitte and Goldman Sachs will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter offices.
  • Delta Air Lines will charge unvaccinated employees a $200 monthly surcharge for healthcare benefits. 
  • United Airlines quickened its deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to Sept. 27. 
  • Credit Suisse pushed back its U.S. return-to-office date and will require unvaccinated employees to work from home starting Sept. 7. 
  • With continued high levels of remote work in the U.S., “zoom fatigue” is gaining ground in the scientific field as a legitimate added source of workplace stress:
50% of US Residents Spend Most of the Day on Screens
  • The number of American student visas granted to international students has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with American consulates approving roughly 117,000 F-1 cards in May and June.
  • Lawmakers in the U.S. House narrowly passed an early blueprint for a $3.5 trillion budget plan originally proposed by the White House, setting the stage for an expansion of federal investments in childcare, family leave and climate change efforts. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock exchanges closed at record highs following the news. 
  • Krispy Kreme raised its forecast for the year and plans to raise prices to offset rising costs as it emphasizes online and drive-through sales to counter the impacts of the pandemic. 
  • Best Buy raised its annual sales growth forecast to 11%, reporting strong second-quarter demand for home theater systems and work-from-home equipment. 
  • Delta Air Lines ordered an additional 30 Airbus A321neo narrow-body jets, bringing total new orders for the plane to 155 as Delta upgrades its fleet ahead of an expected travel rebound.  
  • Strong early demand for Ford’s F-150 Lightning electric pickup prompted the company to more than double its production target for the vehicles by 2025.
  • Automotive supplier BorgWarner is investing $10 million into Tennessee-based renewable energy company Enexor BioEnergy, which converts plastic waste into thermal energy, as part of an effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. 
  • Ram Trucks announced it will offer an electric version of its ProMaster van in 2023 to compete with similar electric vehicle models from competitors, including Ford, GMC and Chevrolet. 

International Markets

  • Japan is expanding its state of emergency to an additional eight prefectures after new COVID-19 cases Tuesday remained near record highs with 21,610 new infections and 42 fatalities.  
  • A new study suggests India could see up to 600,000 new COVID-19 infections per day in October if the nation fails to boost lagging vaccination numbers. 
  • New South Wales state reported 919 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, taking Australia’s daily tally to a new high as some hospitals report increasing strain on their staffs and supplies. 
  • New Zealand reported 62 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, expanding the nation’s most recent outbreak to 210 cases and prompting efforts to quickly boost vaccinations. 
  • The Philippines reported more than 12,000 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, as the nation’s largest public hospital temporarily stopped accepting new patients due to overcrowding.  
  • The U.K.’s seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths has risen back to 100 for the first time since March. 
  • Switzerland’s fourth wave of COVID-19 could be peaking, with the nation reporting almost 3,000 new cases Tuesday. 
  • Israel lowered its minimum age requirement for COVID-19 booster shots to 30-years-old, hoping to further the country’s efforts to combat the Delta variant. 
  • The EU granted approval for additional manufacturing sites to produce more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for the remainder of this year.  
  • Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation, has granted approval of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to receive 7.7 million doses through the COVAX vaccine-sharing program. 
  • British retail sales surged to their highest levels in nearly seven years in August, fueled by relaxed pandemic restrictions throughout the country.
  • Roughly two-thirds of Japan’s small- and medium-sized firms saw lower sales in July compared to the same period in 2019, a snapshot of the pandemic’s outsized toll on the nation’s economy. 
  • An index of business morale in Germany fell for the second month in a row in August, reflecting continued supply bottlenecks and a resurgence in COVID-19, as the nation’s exports to China declined for the first time in nearly a year in July.
  • Asia’s automotive industry has been most impacted by pandemic supply chain disruptions, followed by the footwear and apparel, and food and beverages sectors. Spanish utility Iberdrola will partner with U.S. consultant AECOM to modify a railroad between two seaside Italian towns to run on green hydrogen
  • The EU is considering additional support for manufacturers of rare earth magnets used in the production of electric vehicles (EV), a potential boost to the bloc’s EV industry.  

At M. Holland

  • Thursday: What’s the outlook for plastics supply and the global supply chain? Join us for our Plastics Reflections Web Series featuring panelists from Business Publishing International, MTS Logistics, LyondellBasell and M. Holland. Register here for this webinar on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET.
  • Matt Zessin, our Automotive Market Manager, was interviewed about materials trends for electric vehicles on the Automotive News Daily Drive podcast, accessible here.
  • 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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