COVID-19 Bulletin: December 28
December 29, 2020 • Posted in COVID-19
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- Ocean carriers are adding increased transit times to their schedules to buffer global delays wreaking havoc at backlogged ports.
- British supermarkets are beginning to airlift fruits and vegetables into the country as thousands of freight trucks and vans remain stuck in backlogged terminals over fears of a highly infectious COVID-19 strain.
- German carrier Hapag-Lloyd is investing $1 billion on a fleet of six 23,500-teu containerships powered by liquified natural gas.
- Global port operator DP World is partnering with the government of Senegal to build a $1.1 billion deep-water port in the company’s largest African investment to date.
- Liquified petroleum gas operator Epic Gas is combining fleet and business activities with Lauritzen Kosan to create the world’s largest gas carrier, a deal expected to close by the end of the first quarter in 2021.
- The Shipping Corporation of India will be privatized after the nation’s government invited bids for its stake in the firm, which owns and operates a third of Indian tonnage with interests in all areas of the shipping business.
- Businesses have fared ensuing coronavirus waves better than in the spring, adapting practices to meet expected supply chain disruptions to buoy manufacturing output even in countries with increased lockdowns and restrictions.
- The pandemic has exposed unforeseeable risks associated with far-flung production, prompting firms to bring supply chains closer to home even at the risk of higher costs.
- Logistics conditions continue to deteriorate, with trucking demand exceeding availability, growing congestion at ports, and backlogs at warehousing and packaging facilities due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Shipping containers are in short supply, with demurrage charges rising. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.
- There were nearly 1.3 million new COVID-19 cases over the past week, raising total U.S. infections above 19 million. Total deaths have topped 333,000, and hospitalizations set a record on Christmas Eve of 120,151.
- December is now the worst month for COVID-19 cases of the pandemic, with roughly 143 Americans testing positive for the disease every minute.
- Health officials are preparing for a “post-seasonal” surge in coronavirus cases following increased traveling over the winter holidays.
- Total COVID-19 cases in California topped 2 million, more than all but 8 countries. Some California hospitals are delaying non-emergency surgeries ahead of the expected post-holiday surge, while many regions in the state are likely to face extended lockdowns.
- Scientists have pinpointed polyethylene glycol as the ingredient that has caused at least six severe allergic reactions in Americans who have received Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
- The federal government has agreed to buy 100 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with 70 million doses due for delivery by the end of June and the rest in July.
- Retailers Kroger, Albertsons and Walmart are joining the ranks of pharmacies administering COVID-19 vaccines.
- Despite emergency authorizations by regulators, hospitals are increasingly letting antibody drug treatments for COVID-19 stand idle as infectious disease experts warn about the lack of clinical testing for the drugs.
- COVID-19 tests deliver false negatives up to 38% of the time at the point that victims first feel symptoms.
- COVID-19’s long-haul symptoms bear similarities to post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) connected with other historic pandemics and could put prolonged strains on healthcare systems.
- Unemployment programs and extra benefits will be temporarily extended after the White House approved a sweeping $900 billion stimulus package that includes $600 in direct payments to Americans.
- U.S. household spending dropped 0.4% in November, the first drop in seven months.
- U.S. retail sales rose 2.4% during the holiday season, a modest increase that fell short of analyst expectations but included a 47.2% increase in online sales.
- States are fighting over billions of income taxes for employees who turned to remote work during the pandemic and no longer commuted across state lines.
- Consumer product companies are expanding factories and production lines in a bet that trends brought on by remote work – e.g., growing beards and increased home meals – will continue long after the pandemic is over.
- Car makers are bumping up the scope and capabilities of automated driverless systems, bringing concerns about distracted driving during the early phases of the technology’s development.
- California-based autonomous vehicle startup Nuro has gained the first-ever approval to make deliveries of food, beverages, medicine and other items in a driverless vehicle.
- Embattled electric-truck startup Nikola faced a further setback as the company terminated its partnership to provide thousands of zero-emissions garbage trucks to Republic Services.
- Under pressure from rising demand for financial aid alongside pandemic budget cuts, U.S. colleges and universities are issuing bonds at historic rates, incentivizing investors but lowering their financial ratings in the process.
- Books offering new perspectives on work and society led the list in 2020’s most popular books among financial officers nationwide.
- Gift cards became 2020’s hottest-selling holiday item as rising COVID-19 cases brought concerns over store visits and shipping delays.
- Underscoring the length of the pandemic, the first “coronials” are arriving, babies conceived and born since COVID-19 arrived in March.
- More than 4.4 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 globally.
- Germany, Italy, and France have confirmed the first cases of patients with a highly infectious COVID-19 strain recently discovered in England. Officials have also found patients with the strain in Canada, Spain, Sweden and Norway.
- Japan recorded 3,823 new COVID-19 cases Friday, a record. The country is barring nonresident foreigners from entering through the end of January, an expansion of an earlier ban on the U.K. and South Africa after the highly contagious strain was found in those countries.
- A cluster of new COVID-19 cases grew to 116 infections in Sydney, Australia, as the nation extended a lockdown for the region’s beaches and urged social restrictions.
- South Korea avoided its highest COVID-19 alert level as new cases in the country slowed in recent days.
- South African officials are mulling a total ban on liquor sales in the wake of surging COVID-19 infections.
- The European Union started vaccinating healthcare workers and nursing home residents in the initial rollout of the bloc’s COVID-19 inoculation campaign, which aims to provide vaccines to more than 450 million people across the continent.
- British regulators are poised this week to approve AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
- Previously excluded from Russia’s national inoculation program, people over the age of 60 will now be allowed to receive the nation’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccines as total infections passed 3 million.
- The U.K. and the European Union agreed on a last-minute trade deal ahead of the nation’s exit from the bloc on Jan. 1., calming fears of a major economic disruption amid existing pressures from the pandemic. Businesses, however, are asking for more time to adjust to changes affecting $590 billion in trade as Britain implements customs and regulatory checks with many trade partners for the first time in 50 years. The deal also leaves open many unresolved questions over finance, fish, territories, data and more.
- Ahead of Brexit, France and Germany are once again taking the reins on directing Europe’s economic and foreign policy, a promising sign of unity in the face of criticism regarding the bloc’s viability.
- Canada’s economy expanded more than forecast in October, notching a 0.4% rise in GDP compared to a month earlier, even as coronavirus cases rise.
- China could become the world’s first country with a digital currency system, as the nation recently concluded its second pilot program that doled out $3.1 million in cryptocurrency via a lottery system.
- Turkey’s already faltering economy is taking a further hit from the pandemic, pairing falling currency values and double-digit inflation with rising individual debt and concerns about the population’s food security.
- A team of Oxford scientists has developed a process that could turn CO2 into jet fuel, with successful experiments being carried out on a small scale in the lab.
- M. Holland will be closed on Friday, January 1, for New Year’s Day.
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We will provide further COVID-19 bulletins as circumstances dictate. For all COVID-19 updates and notices, please refer to the M. Holland website.