COVID-19 Bulletin: August 23

August 23, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Oil prices closed down 8% last week, the largest weekly loss in more than nine months. Crude futures rebounded in mid-day trading, with WTI up 6.1% at $65.92/bbl and Brent up 5.6% at $68.82/bbl. Natural gas was 1.3% higher at $3.90/MMBtu.
  • Higher demand for LNG in Asia is drawing cargoes away from the European market, which faces a shortage of the fuel as it heads into the demand-heavy winter season. 
  • With COVID-19 infections beginning to disrupt production, Chevron became the first oil major to require vaccines for some employees as it mulls a mandate for its entire workforce.  
  • The White House plans to review coal leasing on federal lands, with potentially significant impacts to some state budgets, chiefly Wyoming, which accounts for 40% of domestic coal production. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • In hurricane and storm news:
    • Level 3 Hurricane Grace caused torrential rains, severe flooding and mudslides that killed eight people on Mexico’s Gulf Coast Saturday. The storm dissipated into the country’s interior later in the afternoon. 
    • Tropical Storm Henri was downgraded from a hurricane just before making landfall in Rhode Island Sunday afternoon, bringing storm surges, flash flooding and heavy rain throughout New England. New York City saw the most rainfall since 1869, while Dominion Energy was forced to reduce output at a Connecticut nuclear plant. 
    • More than 20 people have died from severe flooding in central Tennessee. One county saw a record 17 inches of rainfall on Saturday, totaling about a third of the county’s rainfall for any given year. 
    • Torrential rain in central China prompted flood warnings in the transport hubs of Xingyang and Changyuan, with authorities warning of possible dam collapses. 
    • Earthquake-battered Haitians are struggling to rebuild, hampered by delays in the arrival of foreign aid.
  • In wildfire news:
    • Central California’s Caldor Fire grew to nearly 100,000 acres Sunday with zero containment. 
    • Northern California’s Dixie Fire, the state’s largest ever, surpassed 720,000 acres Sunday with 37% containment. The fire has burned for 38 days and destroyed several towns and a total of 1,247 structures. 
  • Six new “Marine Highway” projects received special designation from the federal government, a boost to intra-U.S. waterways as an alternative to land-based freight. 
  • Kansas City Southern delayed to Sept. 3 a shareholder vote on the $33.6 billion acquisition bid from Canadian National Railway, as the company awaits a decision from federal regulators on the proposed structure of the deal. 
  • Pandemic lockdowns in Vietnam have a growing number of retailers considering a switch to air cargo from backlogged ocean transport.
  • In a letter to U.S. lawmakers, Taiwanese officials forecast global supply and demand for auto chips will reach “balance” in the fourth quarter of this year. 
  • Graphics card giant Nvidia has been relatively unscathed by the global chip shortage affecting many other markets, with sales rising 68% in the second quarter to record revenue of $5.7 billion: 
NVIDIA Games on Through Global Chip Shortage
  • In a struggle similar to that experienced in May 2020, grocery stores are scrambling to keep shelves stocked as a continuing succession of supply chain disruptions and raw material shortages roil the industry. 

Domestic Markets

  • The FDA fully approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 this morning, which could prompt more of the vaccine hesitant to get shots and more employers to mandate vaccines.  
  • The U.S. reported 36,692 new COVID-19 infections and 200 virus fatalities Sunday. 
  • Anxiety among Americans over rising COVID-19 levels is back to its highest levels since last winter’s surge, a new poll shows. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations among children are at their highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Daily COVID-19 hospital admissions are rising in every state in the U.S. Northeast, with health experts predicting the region is at the top of a current peak. 
  • In Florida…
    • Last week was the state’s deadliest for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 1,486 virus fatalities
    • State officials prepared to revoke the salaries of school board members who approved mask mandates. Despite the measure, the list of schools imposing such mandates is growing
    • Liquid oxygen, used by hospitals and to treat drinking water, is in short supply in Orlando due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, prompting the mayor to ask citizens to conserve water
  • In California…
    • Roughly 30% of all new COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles are breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people. 
    • San Francisco began enforcing a vaccine mandate for indoor businesses Friday. 
    • Hundreds of students in a southern California school district were forced to quarantine after exposure to a COVID-19 victim. 
  • The Tennessee National Guard deployed 550 soldiers to support the state’s testing, vaccination and healthcare administration amid a surge in COVID-19 to levels not seen since January.
  • Mississippi’s top health official issued a health order calling for fines and/or jail time for COVID-19 victims that don’t self-isolate. 
  • Georgia’s COVID-19 cases in children have jumped by 60% over the past week, rising to 8,000 infections for the week of Aug. 20, while more than 23,000 Atlanta-area students and staff are quarantining due to exposure of the virus. 
  • Fifty children under the age of 18 are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama, the state’s highest number since the start of the pandemic. 
  • In Oregon, 890 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 300 more than at any other time during the pandemic. 
  • In Wisconsin, there is a stark difference in the effects of COVID-19 on vaccinated and unvaccinated people:
How COVID Affects Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People
  • Arizona’s top court ruled that businesses in the state can impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates on employees and customers, while Kentucky’s top court strictly limited the governor’s ability to pass emergency health measures, including mask and vaccine mandates. 
  • Boston joined a growing list of cities re-imposing indoor mask mandates amid rising COVID-19 cases, while Washington became the latest state to do so. 
  • COVID-19 testing kits are in short supply with the surge of the Delta variant.  
  • The FDA issued multiple warnings urging people not to ingest animal parasite drugs for COVID-19 after the agency received reports of multiple hospitalizations with the dangerous and ineffective home remedies. 
  • More than 75% of American workers would prefer working from home permanently, while 40% say a company’s remote work policy is the most essential workplace benefit, new survey results suggest. The news comes as more companies are pushing return-to-office dates back an additional year, a particularly hard blow to some small businesses.
  • The U.S. dollar hit a nine-month high against a basket of foreign currencies as global economic concerns mount because of the surging Delta variant of COVID-19.  
  • The U.S. extended the closure of its land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel through Sept. 21 due to rising COVID-19 cases. 
  • American consumers are expected to spend a record $108 billion on school supplies this fall, the National Retail Federation said, with apparel items topping the list as more people return to in-person activities. 
  • Foot traffic at Dollar General is up 32% compared to pre-pandemic levels, with analysts pointing to rising inflation for everyday items and high job losses among low-income earners.  
  • Deere raised its full-year earnings forecast after reporting strong second-quarter profit on higher sales of farm and construction equipment.
  • Chevrolet will take a $1 billion hit on its recent recall of more than 70,000 Bolt electric vehicles because of incidents of LG-made battery fires.   

International Markets

  • Japan’s COVID-19 surge worsened over the weekend, with the nation reporting a record 25,492 cases Saturday. Authorities are considering plans to convert Olympic venues into pop-up medical centers to help relieve strain on hospitals.
  • Panic-buying was rampant in Vietnam over the weekend as the nation’s largest city prepares to enter lockdowns today that will prevent residents from leaving their homes. The nation reported a record number of virus fatalities Sunday. 
  • South Korea extended pandemic lockdowns for another two weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases. The nation reported 1,418 infections today, a decline from recent days attributed to less testing over the weekend. 
  • Indonesia reported more than 20,000 new COVID-19 infections and 1,348 virus deaths Friday amid calls from the World Health Organization for tightened pandemic restrictions in the country. 
  • Australia reported 914 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, breaking the previous day’s record. Hundreds were arrested while protesting the country’s strict lockdowns, which were extended in Sydney by another month.
  • New Zealand reported 21 new COVID-19 infections Sunday, prompting the country to extend its lockdown through Aug. 27. Officials are rethinking the nation’s strict “COVID-zero” strategy as the virus still managed to crop up after six months of no local cases. 
  • After more than a month of implementing draconian measures to help curb a recent COVID-19 outbreak, China reported zero new infections Monday.
  • Ireland reported nearly 2,100 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the most since January. 
  • Germany will add parts of Greece and Ireland to its “high-risk” list for COVID-19. 
  • A growing number of Canada’s largest banks are mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees to return to offices. 
  • Mexican officials are seeking formal consultation with the U.S. over the application of content origin rules for auto production as laid out in the new trade pact, which requires 75% of North American vehicle content to be from North America. 
  • British retail sales fell 2.5% in July from the previous month, the biggest drop since January when the country entered a strict nationwide lockdown. 
  • A strong rebound in demand for clothing and accessories helped Canada’s retail sales climb 4.2% in June before falling 1.7% in July. 
  • Higher quality of machinery, pharmaceutical and auto products from China is increasing the competitive pressure on German exporters in their home market, officials say. 

At M. Holland

  • Our Technical Innovation Center in Easton, Pennsylvania, is closed today due to a power outage caused by Tropical Storm Henri.
  • Matt Zessin, our Automotive Market Manager, was interviewed about materials trends for electric vehicles on the Automotive News Daily Drive podcast, accessible here.
  • What’s the outlook for plastics supply and the global supply chain? Join us for our next Plastics Reflections Web Series. Our distinguished panel will include guests from Business Publishing International, MTS Logistics and LyondellBasell. Register here for the event on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET.
  • 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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