COVID-19 Bulletin: August 25

August 25, 2020 • Posted in News

Good Afternoon,

More COVID-19 news relevant to the plastics industry:

Supply

  • Oil and gasoline prices rose yesterday as petrochemicals operations along the Gulf Coast shut down in advance of Tropical Storms Laura and Marco.
  • Crude prices were higher in early trading today, with the WTI at $42.89/bbl and Brent at $45.69/bbl.
  • Exxon, the oldest member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is one of three companies to be replaced on the 124-year-old stock index next week.
  • More U.S. pipeline capacity was canceled than put into service in the first half of the year as regulatory and environmental pressures increase investment risk.
  • Miniature power grids enabled by low-cost solar energy could provide affordable electricity to unserved areas of the world while furthering sustainability.  
  • Improving demand and supply disruptions at several production facilities have made polypropylene especially tight in North America with producers requesting accurate forecasts and extended lead times.

Supply Chain

  • Tropical Storm Marco weakened before making landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River, but Tropical Storm Laura could strengthen to a Category 2 or 3 hurricane and appears headed for the Houston/Galveston area, according to the latest forecast.
  • Wildfires continued to ravage Northern California, with over 1.2 million acres burned so far.
  • Major truck stop chains are booming with the rise in truck traffic as the economy and freight traffic recover.
  • While dry van capacity is improving, the bulk trucking sector has worsened, with rising manufacturing activity and low inventories expanding regional tightness into a national capacity shortfall. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates will be met.
  • Freight pricing continues to rise due to capacity constraints and the higher cost of operations due to the pandemic.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports along the Louisiana coast, including the port of New Orleans.
  • Railroad operations in the Gulf Coast and other portions of the rail network also are expected to be impacted by the tropical storms, which may extend transit times.
  • Beyond the transportation challenges, our Gold Standard logistics partners continue to operate without interruption.

Markets

  • COVID-19 infections in the U.S. inched higher to 38,045 yesterday but remained about half the high on July 16.
  • Only 37% of U.S. workers laid off in March have returned to their jobs, and one-third have lost their jobs permanently.
  • Those suffering from long-term health effects of COVID-19 are running up significant medical bills, and the long-term costs could tax the Medicaid system and dampen economic growth.
  • The head of the FDA clarified the therapeutic effectiveness of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19, which was granted Emergency Use Authorization on Sunday.
  • Southwest Airlines cut 35,000 flights nationally from its October schedule, a 36% reduction.
  • Delta Airlines plans to furlough nearly 2,000 pilots in October.
  • American Airlines will cut 19,000 workers on October 1, shrinking its staffing by a third since March.
  • The EPA gave American Airlines an emergency exemption to use a spray coating on planes that kills COVID-19 pathogens for as long as a week.
  • The recently invented Arch Cart Sanitizer offers a touchless method for sanitizing shopping carts that avoids sanitizing wipe waste.
  • The pandemic is causing a dramatic restructuring in the retail industry:
Retailers Face Mass Extinction
  • Video platforms Zoom and Blackboard experienced outages yesterday, overwhelmed by students returning to remote study.
  • Laptops, thermometers and home-office furniture have replaced backpacks, dorm linens and apparel as hot items for shoppers during the back-to-school season, the second biggest shopping season of the year for retailers.
  • Mental health issues may be the second wave of COVID-19, with mental health risk among U.S. workers up more than 100% and one-in-four young adults saying they’ve thought about suicide in the past month because of the pandemic.
  • A surge in usage and interest in telemedicine is prompting increased deal activity in the space.
  • The University of California plans to phase out single-use plastics at all its 10 campuses by 2030.

International

  • In their first dialogue since May, negotiators for the U.S. and China pledged their commitment to the Phase 1 trade deal in a phone call yesterday.
  • German COVID-19 infection rates remained stubbornly high Monday, with over 1,600 new cases.
  • Business optimism in Germany rose modestly in August, despite a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and signs of a flagging recovery. 
  • The Philippines, Indonesia and, recently, Japan are seeing the most rapidly rising infection rates in the Asia-Pacific region.  
  • Brazil and Mexico, with the highest death rates in Latin America, are leading the economic comeback, but the region remains the weakest globally due in part to issues that predate the pandemic.

Our Operations

  • To access 3D Printing training, order parts and seek technical assistance, visit our new online resource.
  • Resource Center: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers. To arrange a videoconference or meeting, contact:
  • M. Holland’s official status statement is available here.

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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