May 3, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

COVID-19 Bulletin: May 3


More news relevant to the plastics industry:

Some sources linked are subscription services.


  • Oil prices ended the week slightly below six-week highs, a reflection of growing concern over the COVID-19 crisis in India. Crude futures were higher in mid-day trading today, with the WTI up 1.5% at $64.51/bbl and Brent 1.3% higher at $67.62/bbl. Natural gas was 0.7% higher at $2.95/MMBtu.
  • A strong earthquake off Japan’s northern coast on Saturday prompted a temporary shuttering of one refinery and disrupted train service and nuclear power plants. 
  • The number of active oil and gas rigs in the U.S. rose by two last week, bringing the total count to 440, or 32 more than the same time last year. 
  • OPEC is expected to have raised its total production in April, driven by another supply increase from Iran, one of the three-member nations exempt from the bloc’s production cuts. 
  • Africa OPEC member Angola inked a $5 billion oil pipeline deal with neighbor Zambia, with a feasibility study set to take place over the next two years prior to construction. 
  • Seaborne coal imports in Asia fell 6.5% in the first quarter. 
  • Mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. oil and gas industry were lower in March than the 12-month average. 
  • Exxon returned to profitability in the first quarter, beating analyst earnings estimates. On Saturday, the company began a lockout of more than 650 employees at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery over stalled contract negotiations with the USW.  
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here. 

Supply Chain

  • General Motors is idling its Chevrolet Equinox plant in Ontario for at least two months, the latest automaker to announce production cuts due to the global semiconductor shortage. 
  • The semiconductor shortage has prompted Volkswagen to begin designing and developing its own high-powered chips for autonomous vehicles. The company expects the chip shortage to extend for the next several months. 
  • Production at a new Tesla factory in Germany has been delayed until next year, with the company citing supply-chain issues affecting battery pack output. 
  • Intel is requesting nearly $10 billion in public subsidies to build a semiconductor factory in Europe, as the region seeks to reduce its reliance on imports amid the global shortage. 
  • Chief information officers, concerned about the growing semiconductor shortage, are stockpiling equipment and examining their supply chains. 
  • Several Indian automakers suspended production to shift oxygen from industrial operations to medical use. India’s COVID-19 crisis is disrupting shipping crew changes as ports bar workers from vessels that have landed in India. 
  • Driver and labor shortages among Starbucks’ supply chain partners are interfering with the company’s efforts to improve the customer experience with more drive thru options and new store layouts. 
  • Striking dockworkers at the port of Montreal began returning to work over the weekend. 
  • International container volumes on U.S. railroads rose 14.8% in the first quarter. 
  • U.S. freight demand rose 3.4% from February to March while freight expenditures rose nearly twice as fast at 6.5%, signaling the rapid growth in shipping costs. 
  • The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, rose to its highest level in more than a decade. 
  • Trucker Schneider National raised its outlook after first-quarter profit rose 25% on a 10% gain in revenue. 
  • Commodities including industrial metals, lumber and food staples are rapidly getting more expensive as countries around the world burst into an economic recovery at the same time. 
  • A pandemic-induced swimming pool boom created unprecedented demand for chlorine, constraining supply of the chemical and causing its price to nearly double from last year. 
  • Arizona is set to impose water restrictions as drought slows water flows in the Colorado River and Lake Meade, the state’s largest reservoir, which has fallen to 38% of full capacity. 
  • Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability and continued congestion at ports due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.


  • There were 29,367 new COVID-19 cases and 323 deaths in the U.S. yesterday. Over 245 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 29.4% of the population fully vaccinated. 
  • Weekly COVID-19 infections in the U.S. dropped to their lowest level since mid-October last week. Virus cases have declined significantly in over half of U.S. states in the last two weeks. 
  • COVID-19 cases and deaths in New York fell to a six-month and five-month low, respectively, over the weekend. 
  • Colorado’s governor has extended the state’s mask mandate for an additional 30 days, but also lowered the restrictions on those that are fully vaccinated, allowing groups of 10 or more to gather indoors unmasked if at least 80% of the group is vaccinated. 
  • Michigan is now hospitalizing more people under age 40 for COVID-19 than those over age 80. The state confirmed its first case of a COVID-19 “double mutant” strain first discovered in India. 
  • The White House barred most non-U.S. citizens arriving from India amid the nation’s record-breaking COVID-19 surge. 
  • A requirement for people to wear face masks on all U.S. public transportation networks is being extended to Sept. 13
  • A Florida school district will begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations at high schools, aiming to inoculate all students within about a week. 
  • Reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in Americans from at least five states were caused by anxiety, not ingredients of the shots, health officials have ruled. 
  • Drugmakers and government labs are working to develop the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines which may be in pill form or as a nasal spray, hoping that easier storage and transportation could avoid future pandemics. 
  • Employers are inundated with a surge in healthcare startups created during the pandemic offering a range of services.  
  • Consumer spending rose 4.2% in March after falling 1% in February, likely boosted by a surge in income as households received additional COVID-19 pandemic stimulus. Swelling consumer confidence is expected to bump up U.S. ad spending by 15% this year. 
  • Retail clothing sellers in the U.S. are beginning to see upticks in consumer traffic and sales, as people once again venture out to social events and prepare returns to the office. 
  • Roughly 42% of surveyed companies report having at least one open position that has proved hard to fill, the highest level ever, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
  • The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of U.S. labor costs, rose 0.9% last quarter, a higher-than-expected increase as wage growth picked up. 
  • Workers under the age of 25 were terminated during the pandemic at rates 79% higher than older workers and now face an uphill battle for re-employment amid stiff competition. 
  • About 87% of first-quarter earnings reports have come in ahead of analyst estimates, putting the quarter on track for the highest “beat rate” on records going back to 1994. 
  • Combined market value for the five largest U.S. tech companies – Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet – now make up nearly a quarter of the total value of the S&P 500, nearly double the percentage from five years ago. 
  • While households in rich nations have amassed an unprecedented pile of savings, the continuing economic recovery will depend on whether those savings are spent. 
  • Disneyland in California reopened Friday after being closed for over a year.  
  • A new study from the University of California Davis shows that 1 in 5 electric vehicle owners in California switched back to gas vehicles, mostly due to logistical difficulties in charging them. 
  • Asset levels in the sustainable investment sector rose 19% to a fresh high of $2 trillion in the first quarter, industry tracker Morningstar reported. 


  • Global COVID-19 infections averaged more than 800,000 a day for the past week, a record, and more than double the infection rate of just two months ago.  
  • India’s COVID-19 crisis worsened over the weekend, as the nation set a new one-day global record on Saturday of more than 400,000 infections. Infections dipped only slightly on Sunday to 392,488, while more than 3,600 virus deaths were reported, a record. The nation’s capital extended lockdown curbs by a week. 
  • Australia is temporarily banning its own citizens from returning to the country from India, with a potential punishment of up to five years in jail and fines of up to $50,000. 
  • Portugal extended its ban on non-essential travel for foreign arrivals from several countries and added India to the list. 
  • Taiwan barred travelers who have been to India in the past 14 days.  
  • The European Commission is exploring easing restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists, proposing to open quarantine-free travel between the bloc and countries with low infection rates. 
  • Pakistan is reducing the number of international flights into and out of its airports by 80% to curb rising COVID-19 case numbers. 
  • Argentina, facing record COVID-19 infections and full ICU units, tightened restrictions as its total case count topped 3 million
  • Brazil finally received a long-awaited batch of 1 million Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines as the nation’s virus death toll topped 400,000. The country saw its first weekly increase in cases after two weeks of declines. 
  • Mexico’s president is asking the U.S. for 5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after the company acknowledged that its production in the country faced several setbacks. 
  • Japan’s western prefecture of Osaka, site of the upcoming Olympics, recorded 1,262 COVID-19 cases in one day, a record, while Tokyo reported more than 1,000 infections. 
  • A luxury cruise ship returned to port in Japan after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 while onboard. 
  • Thailand reported almost 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day over the weekend, as well as a record 21 virus deaths, which was matched the following day. 
  • Russia is lagging other countries in inoculating its population, reporting just 12.1 million people with at least one shot and only 7.7 million, or 5%, fully vaccinated
  • Cambodia reported a daily record of 730 new COVID-19 cases, as the country seeks to contain a nearly two-month rise in infections. 
  • China reportedly administered more than 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single 24-hour period. 
  • The Netherlands delayed a planned easing of pandemic restrictions until at least May 18, as virus cases and hospitalizations remain high. 
  • Canada is pausing the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines after learning a significant number of its deliveries were manufactured in a Baltimore facility shut down for botching 15 million doses. 
  • The U.S. is set to begin talks with the World Trade Organization to overcome patent rules over the use of COVID-19 vaccines so that low- and middle-income countries can begin producing generic versions of the shots to inoculate its populations.
  • Moderna will supply up to 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX, the international coalition focused on distributing vaccines to poor nations, with the first delivery scheduled for the fourth quarter. 
  • Pfizer/BioNTech will ship 4.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by June to South Africa, the African continent’s worst-hit country in the pandemic. 
  • Nigeria banned travelers from India, Brazil and Turkey over fears of importing highly contagious COVID-19 strains.
  • A Spanish city is testing out the effectiveness of a digital COVID-19 pass by allowing residents to go to a concert or dine out at five restaurants over the weekend. 
  • Israel has extended its COVID-19 vaccine passport system to children, who are not yet eligible to be inoculated. 
  • A new study from the Netherlands shows that 80% of plastic waste is distributed by over 1,000 rivers from around the world, and not 10-20 as previously thought.

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.

Stay informed with industry trends and insights.