August 27, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: August 27

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  • U.S. energy companies began airlifting workers from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a response to severe weather brewing in the Caribbean Sea that is expected to become a hurricane by the weekend. Expected disruption from the storm helped boost oil prices in early trading Friday, with analysts predicting a short-term supply crunch. 
  • Energy futures were higher in mid-day trading, with WTI up 2.1% at $68.83/bbl and Brent up 2.1% at $72.53/bbl. Natural gas was 3.3% higher at $4.32/MMBtu.
  • PetroChina, Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, announced plans to make green energy account for one-third of its production by 2035
  • By the end of 2024, global refining capacity additions could outpace refinery closures or conversions by 1.1 million bpd, with demand growth unlikely to fill the gap, analysts project. 
  • Phillips 66 is seeking a buyer for its 247,000-bpd Alliance refinery in Louisiana as it looks to stem continued losses and shift toward lower-carbon businesses. 
  • India will expand its LNG import capacity by 12% to 47.5 million tons annually following construction of a new floating import terminal set to go live next year. 
  • Nigeria’s state-owned oil company saw a net profit of $698 million in 2020, the first profit in its 44-year history. 
  • Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding is partnering with French oil major TotalEnergies on early plans to create a liquid CO2 carrier, a vessel that could transport emissions to carbon storage projects across the globe. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • Tropical Storm Ida formed in the Caribbean Sea Thursday and is expected to cross Cuba’s western tip before strengthening over warmer waters and hitting the Louisiana coastline Sunday as a hurricane. 
  • Wildfires continue to rage in the U.S. West:
    • California’s Dixie Fire grew to 747,091 acres with 45% containment Thursday, while the state’s Caldor Fire grew to 136,643 acres with just 12% containment. 
    • Minnesota’s Greenwood Fire expanded to nearly 26,000 acres Thursday, burning 12 homes and 57 buildings with zero containment. Rainfall is expected this weekend. 
  • More than 300 seafaring employees resigned yesterday from HMM, South Korea’s largest container shipper, as a public dispute over wages stretches into its third day. A worker strike remains planned for next week. 
  • Rising cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant are now expected to upend global supply chains well into next year, as new infections continue to threaten factory production and shipping logistics. 
  • As HP and Dell struggle to keep up with surging demand for personal computers, a backlog of critical components has pushed down forecasts for total shipments in 2021 by roughly four percentage points. 
  • U.S. car sales are forecast to fall 14.3% in August as the global semiconductor and other component shortages continue to batter the industry. The trend is worse in the U.K., which saw its lowest level of vehicle production in July since 1956:
UK Car Production Posts Worst July Since 1956
  • Private British companies are urging lawmakers to boost funding for workforce retraining and allow European workers back into the nation’s key sectors, as regional supply chains continue to face post-Brexit disruptions. In particular, an estimated shortage of 100,000 freight truckers has significantly disrupted supermarket supply. 
  • Roughly 73% of consumers say they would pay more for products if they were packaged sustainably, a statistic that has many beverage companies ramping up investments into eco-friendly materials. 

Domestic Markets

  • The U.S. reported 161,331 new COVID-19 infections and 1,292 virus fatalities Thursday. 
  • Sixteen- and 17-year-olds currently have the highest rate of weekly COVID-19 cases across the nation, with infections per 100,000 rising from 48 in July to 200 in August. Meanwhile, mental health symptoms are on the rise in children due to months of pandemic-induced separation and anxiety, a trend not limited to those under 18:
Majority of Americans Have Struggled With Mental Health
  • Total U.S. hospitalizations for COVID-19 climbed past 100,000 for the first time since January, with a significant share of patients coming from Florida (17,000) and Texas (14,000). 
  • The U.S. could see nearly 100,000 additional COVID-19 deaths by Dec. 1, forecasts predict. 
  • New data suggests roughly 31% of the U.S. population contracted COVID-19 last year, including more than half of residents in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.  
  • Illinois has imposed the most sweeping new pandemic mandates of any state, including a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all the state’s teachers, students and healthcare workers, as well as a statewide indoor mask mandate. 
  • COVID-19 cases in Baltimore County have surged 376% since July 30, while Maryland reported 1,244 new cases over the last 24 hours. 
  • Nebraska is recruiting unvaccinated nurses to help ease staffing shortages amid a rise in the state’s COVID-19 infections, with more than 5,000 new cases reported Wednesday. 
  • Hawaii is battling its worst wave of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with the seven-day average of new infections rising to 729, more than double last September.  
  • At least seven counties in California’s northern region saw record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations in August, prompting some healthcare facilities to erect pop-up tents to deal with patient overflows. 
  • Indiana reported more than 5,000 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, its highest since January, as the state’s largest health system announced it would suspend half of all elective procedures starting Monday. 
  • Wyoming recorded 423 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, bringing its total active cases to 3,372, the most since December. The state has taken the title for the lowest vaccination rate in the nation at just 55% of residents. 
  • Montana reported 604 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, bringing its total active cases to 4,109, the most since January. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey climbed above 1,000 Wednesday for the first time since May, fueled almost entirely by the Delta variant. 
  • Michigan’s daily average for new COVID-19 cases is up by more than 900 from only one week ago. 
  • Louisiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped steadily from a record-high 3,022 to 2,279 the past week, a promising sign for a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates nationally. 
  • Vermont leads the nation with more than 85% of those aged 12 and older fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The Washington, D.C.-based World Bank is pushing back its return-to-office plans to 2022. 
  • General Motors is requiring all its salaried employees in the U.S. to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status, stopping short of a vaccine mandate imposed by competitors, including Ford. 
  • Sales of at-home COVID-19 testing kits are rising across the nation, retailers report. 
  • Poll results suggest half of U.S. workers support employer vaccine mandates, while roughly 25% of workers oppose them. 
  • Working from home one day per week can boost productivity by 4.8%, a new study suggests. 
  • Consumer demand growth slowed to 0.3% in July from 1.1% in June, while consumer prices rose 4.2% over the prior 12 months, the highest 12-month inflation rate since 1991.  
  • U.S. household debt climbed to an all-time high of $15 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, mainly driven by record volumes in mortgage originations and refinancing:
Driven by Mortgages, U.S. Household Debt Hits New High
Emergency Rental Assistance Slow to Reach Tenants
  • Southwest Airlines is reducing an average of 27 flights per day until Oct. 6 and even more until November, as the carrier resets after crushing travel demand this summer exposed weak points in its operations.
  • New Mexico has joined the White House’s 30×30 plan, pledging to preserve 30% of its land and water resources by 2030. 

International Markets

  • Australia reported more than 1,000 COVID-19 infections Thursday, a record, as major hospitals in Sydney began erecting pop-up tents to treat an overflow of virus patients. Despite rising infections, the country’s New South Wales state is on track to ease ultrastrict pandemic restrictions next month. 
  • New Zealand will keep strict pandemic lockdowns for at least another week, while the nation’s largest city will face even longer curbs over a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the country’s first in six months. 
  • The U.K. reported 38,281 new COVID-19 infections Thursday and 140 virus deaths, a 24% rise in fatalities since last week. 
  • Greece imposed a sweeping new mandate that will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, bars, clubs and entertainment venues. In a similar move, Zimbabwe will restrict indoor dining at restaurants to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 is slowing amid a pickup in its vaccination efforts, with 248,000 cases reported over the last week, compared to 282,000 in mid-July. 
  • The U.K. is moving seven locations — Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Azores, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Lithuania — to its “green” travel list, allowing returning passengers to forego quarantine. 
  • Japan is suspending the use of 1.63 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses over evidence of contamination.  
  • Chinese regulators approved COVID-19 booster shots for people at high risk of contracting the virus, including healthcare workers, persons with weakened immune systems, and those over age 60.  
  • A German consumer sentiment index dropped to -1.2 points for September, reflecting widespread concerns over rising inflation and future COVID-19 outbreaks. French consumer confidence, meanwhile, held steady month over month despite the country’s new rules requiring a health pass to enter many indoor spaces. 
  • Chinese industrial firm profits grew at a slower rate of 16.4% in July compared to 20% a month prior, the fifth consecutive monthly slowdown. 
  • German automaker Audi unveiled plans for a fleet-wide transition to electric vehicles by 2033.  
  • Australia’s Qantas Airways will resume international travel to countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates in December, alongside plans to resume flying to the U.S. and U.K. by mid-2022. 
  • British Airways is eyeing a return of short-haul flights at London’s Gatwick Airport, a service halted since the start of the pandemic.

At M. Holland

  • 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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