COVID-19 Bulletin: August 6

August 6, 2021 • Posted in COVID-19

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Supply

  • Oil prices are down nearly 6.2% from Monday, on track for the largest weekly loss since March. Crude futures were lower in mid-day trading, with WTI down 1.5% at $68.07/bbl and Brent off 1.0% at $70.57/bbl. Natural gas was 0.3% higher at $4.15/MMBtu. 
  • Demand for cleaner-burning natural gas has surged as the once abundant and inexpensive fuel increasingly replaces coal, with European gas rates reaching a record this week and LNG deliveries to Asia approach all-time highs
  • U.S. oil consumption dropped to 18.1 million bpd in 2020, its lowest level in 25 years. 
  • India state refiners are planning to invest $27 billion to boost the country’s refining capacity 20% by 2025. 
  • Spanish energy and petrochemical company Repsol could resume oil exploration in Libya amid the country’s improved security situation, after halting activities in 2011. 
  • Canadian Natural Resources became the most recent oil producer to set new climate goals, aiming to achieve net-zero operational emissions by 2050. 
  • Proposed White House mileage standards would require an average fleet-wide vehicle mileage of 52 mpg by 2026, up from 40 mpg this year. 
  • Our most recent list of force majeure and allocation announcements from suppliers is here.  

Supply Chain

  • California’s central Dixie Fire ballooned to 322,000 acres Thursday, roughly the size of Los Angeles, as it completely engulfed the 1,100-person town of Greenville. Separately, the state’s 1,400-acre River Fire forced thousands to evacuate northwest of Sacramento. 
  • Southern Oregon’s Bootleg Fire remained 84% contained Thursday after scorching more than 413,000 acres over the past several weeks. 
  • The Yantian port in southern China’s export hub of Shenzhen has been forced to halt operations twice in the past two weeks over typhoon alerts, as extreme weather in the region becomes the latest challenge to global supply chains. 
  • Nearly 9,000 Canada Border Services employees plan to go on strike Friday, just three days before the border is set to reopen to vaccinated U.S. travelers, as officials warn of long delays that could significantly disrupt bilateral supply chains. 
  • New car sales in the U.K. dropped 29.5% in July to their lowest levels since 1998 following continued production losses to the global chip shortage. 
  • Eight ocean carriers have been asked to provide the Federal Maritime Commission with information on their use of congestion surcharges, the latest in a string of regulatory inquiries following complaints over excessively high prices amid global shipping backlogs.  
  • Consumer products giant Newell Brands credits U.S.-based manufacturing for its success in combating pandemic-induced supply-chain disruptions, citing a lack of ocean freight, port issues, and raw material and component shortages that have broadly affected other companies. 

Markets

  • The U.S. reported 109,824 new COVID-19 infections and 535 virus deaths Thursday, surpassing six-month highs. The nation administered 864,000 vaccines in a single day, the most since July 3 amid increased pressure from the government and private companies. 
  • More than 91% of all new sequenced COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are of the highly transmissible Delta variant:
Delta Variant Gains Dominance Around the World
  • A surge in COVID-19 infections led by the Delta variant is causing increased demand for virus tests, forcing backlogs as more people wait for results. 
  • Seven U.S. states — Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi — were responsible for half the country’s new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations last week. Three states — Florida, Georgia and Louisiana — were responsible for 40% of virus hospitalizations. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida are up 13% compared to last year’s peak, as hospitals face oxygen and bed shortages following the governor’s decision not to declare another pandemic state of emergency. 
  • Roughly 89% of Montana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations the past two months were among unvaccinated people.
  • Only six ICU beds were available in Mississippi Wednesday, while only 25 were available in Arkansas as the two states report huge surges in COVID-19 infections. 
  • New Jersey recorded 1,345 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, its highest single-day total in almost three months. 
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in north Texas have risen almost 500% in the past month to their highest levels since February, with 1,922 virus patients hospitalized Wednesday. 
  • California and Virginia issued new orders mandating COVID-19 vaccines for state employees. 
  • COVID-19 vaccinations in California have increased significantly in recent weeks, a response to surging infections and new vaccine mandates from public and private employers.
  • New York City is set to launch a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport Aug. 16, a move that follows the city’s recent order requiring vaccinations for most indoor activities. 
  • The White House has indicated it will soon recommend a third COVID-19 “booster” shot for high-risk immunocompromised people. 
  • The CDC confirmed that vaccinated people who suffer a COVID-19 breakthrough infection can transmit the virus.
  • The leading infectious disease official fears a more dangerous COVID-19 variant than Delta will emerge if the current surge continues into the fall and winter, as new variants of undetermined virulence have recently been detected in Peru and South Korea. A Japanese study suggests the Lambda variant, first identified in Peru, could be resistant to currently available vaccines.
  • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine was 93% effective six months after a second dose of the shot, the company says, adding that it expects a need for people to get a third booster shot this fall to protect against new virus strains. 
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents to a recent survey said they know someone who died from COVID-19, while 20% cited the virus as the cause of a broken friendship.  
  • The U.S. State Department could throw out more than 100,000 employment-based green card applications this year following a historic pandemic-induced backlog.  
  • United Airlines today announced a vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees, the first major airline to do so, and will require workers to show proof of vaccination by Oct. 25.  
  • Genesis HealthCare, the largest nursing home operator in the U.S., will require its 700,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • CNN fired three unvaccinated employees for showing up to work after the company mandated vaccines for all office employees. The company also delayed a full reopening of offices until mid-October.  
  • Despite a resurgence of COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant, several Wall Street firms are moving forward with plans to bring employees back to the office over the next several weeks. BlackRock and Wells Fargo, meanwhile, pushed back their return-to-office plans by a month to October, while Amazon delayed its plans until at least January 2022.
  • Yelp has added new features allowing users to filter businesses by their COVID-19 vaccine requirements amid spreading infections with the highly contagious Delta variant.  
  • A greater-than-expected 943,000 jobs were added in the U.S. in July as the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%.  
  • Facing a labor shortage, CVS Health is raising wage rates and dropping requirements that entry-level employees have a high school degree or GED.  
  • Target will begin covering the cost of college tuition, fees and textbooks for its part- and full-time workers, the latest big-box retailer to offer debt-free education programs to lure back employees.
  • Walmart has begun paying weekly bonuses to some warehouse workers to incentivize them to forego August vacations as the company prepares for the holiday season.  
  • The air purification market is expected to grow 29% this year after growing 57% in 2020, a response to growing concerns over air quality amid spreading COVID-19 infections and wildfire smoke from the U.S. West. 
  • Insurers MetLife and Prudential, in reporting better-than-expected quarterly results, said the pandemic is having a continuing but lessening impact on insurance markets and noted that the insured population has a higher COVID-19 vaccination rate than the general population. 
  • General Motors announced plans to add two new models to its emerging fleet of electric commercial vehicles.  
  • Electric-vehicle battery maker LG is asking suppliers to build new facilities near two U.S. plants the company plans to open in Ohio and Tennessee in 2025. 

International

  • The world surpassed 200 million COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with just five countries accounting for more than half of all known infections:
Global COVID-19 Cases Climb Past 200 Million
  • Tokyo reported 5,042 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, a record, as Japan surpassed 1 million virus cases nationwide since the start of the pandemic. 
  • China reported 101 new COVID-19 cases today, its largest daily increase in more than six months, while Beijing announced the city will cancel all of its large-scale events in August. The nation plans to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to other countries by the end of 2021. 
  • India’s government is asking state authorities to implement new pandemic curbs ahead of the country’s planned festivals for the rest of 2021, warning that large-scale events could lead to surges in new COVID-19 infections.
  • Sydney reported 262 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, a record, as the New South Wales state prepares to enter its seventh week of a nine-week lockdown.The country’s Victoria state, meanwhile, has entered a new week-long lockdown for the sixth time since the start of the pandemic.
  • The U.K. surpassed 30,000 new COVID-19 infections for the first time in a week Thursday, despite a nearly 50% drop in the number of people warned to self-isolate after contacting an infected person over the past week.  
  • Russia has administered COVID-19 vaccines to 38.9 million people, roughly 27% of its population. 
  • Africa saw a record 6,400 COVID-19 deaths last week, a 2% rise from the week prior. The continent has begun widely shipping doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, but warned of slow deliveries amid a third wave of the virus.
  • A new South African study suggests Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against the Delta strain. 
  • Germany, France and Israel are moving forward with plans to administer COVID-19 booster shots despite calls from the World Health Organization to halt the process until more countries around the world can vaccinate their populations. 
  • Chile will start administering third COVID-19 booster shots to those aged 55 and older. 
  • Germany’s Lufthansa airline narrowed its losses to $1.1 billion in the second quarter and reported positive free cash flow for the first time during the pandemic. 
  • Increased travel demand has prompted aircraft maker Bombardier to raise its full-year estimates for revenue while boosting delivery expectations up to 120 business jets
  • Canada posted an unexpected trade surplus of $2.6 billion in June, its largest in almost 13 years, amid increased exports of oil and cars. 

Our Operations

  • With the recent widespread and rapid spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the U.S., M. Holland is scaling back participation in next week’s MD&M West conference. Our first and foremost priority is protecting the health of our Mployees and business partners. While we will maintain a booth presence, we will be canceling our reception and meetings outside the conference.
  • 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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