North America Update: October 6
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- President Trump’s COVID diagnosis and hospitalization, and positive tests by other White House officials, created uncertainty over the weekend, just over four weeks before Election Day. The president was discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House Tuesday evening. Vice President Mike Pence will participate in the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday evening. The House is not in session this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will cancel Senate votes for the next two weeks but keep the Supreme Court confirmation hearing on track to begin on October 12. Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sen. Mike Lee (R- Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) — have tested positive for the virus.
- The U.S. economy faces risks from a potential resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall and from the failure so far of Congress to provide additional financial support for struggling individuals and businesses. A survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported that 55 percent said they regarded a second wave of COVID-19 cases as the most serious threat. Twenty percent said they thought a lack of further government economic aid would pose the biggest risk. NABE’s forecasters estimated that the U.S. economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew at a 25 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. The panel expects U.S. GDP to decline by 4.3 percent for all of 2020.
- Case counts continue to rise across the country, especially in Eastern Canada where Quebec reported more than 1,000 new cases for the third straight day on Sunday, while Ontario has recorded more than 500 new cases every day for the past week. Ontario introduced stricter public health measures last week, including pausing social circles and mandating mask-wearing province-wide where physical distancing isn’t possible. Quebec also unveiled new legal tools for police to enforce stricter public health measures in the province’s designated “red zones.”
- Canadians who are forced to miss work because of COVID-19 can start applying for financial support from the federal government starting this week. Canadians are now able to access a new sick-leave benefit that provides up to $1,000 over two weeks for those unable to work because they have contracted COVID-19 or are forced to self-isolate. Additionally, through a new caregiver benefit, Canadian households will be able to apply for $500 per week for up to 26 weeks when one person misses more than half a week of work because they have to care for a child because of an illness and/or school closure due to the virus.
- The European Medicines Agency has started its first rolling review of a COVID-19 vaccine in the EU. The vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, will begin to be reviewed based on laboratory studies. Large-scale clinical trials are ongoing, and results will become available in the coming weeks and months.
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has gone into quarantine following close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Though von der Leyen has now tested negative for the virus, she will skip this week’s address to the European Parliament, EU-Ukraine summit and weekly meeting with EU Commissioners as she continues her quarantine according to Belgian regulations.
- Health authorities in France reported that the number of patients being treated in ICUs for COVID-19 has gone above 1,400 for the first time since the end of May. The latest figures come the day before Paris is to be placed on maximum COVID-19 alert, which includes bars having to close for two weeks, partly due to a sharp rise in infections among the 20 to 30 age group.
- In England, more than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and not told to self-isolate because of a data blunder that meant nearly 16,000 COVID-19 cases went unreported.
- According to the findings of a Mastercard survey, the drop in cosmetics sales across Asia has been offset by an increase in the purchase of personal care products. Some retailers have been bundling cosmetics with personal care products like hand soap.
- DBS Singapore’s Chief Investment Officer projected that the combination of working from home as the default and ubiquity of masks would mean more consumers are likely to ditch lipsticks and blush, and instead turn to skin serums. Australian skincare brand tbh Skincare reported a 60% jump in skincare product sales month-on-month in July.
- Self-care beauty brands such as Skin Inc have reported a 400% increase in online sales amid lockdowns. Markets across the region, including Thailand and Indonesia, are increasing their consumption of face sheet masks, a product with already-established markets in South Korea and China.
- The federal government and business organizations announced an investment plan in 39 infrastructure projects for around USD$ 14 billion in the communications, transportation, energy, water and environmental sectors. However, the plan did not involve investments in power generation or hydrocarbon exploration.
- On the first day of October, new labelling of processed foods came into effect, the strictest in Latin America. The industry has filed lawsuits against the government without much success. It accused the government of disrupting the industry as it begins its recovery from the pandemic.
- Due to the lack of money coming from investments, Morena, the government party, seeks to increase taxes on beverages in November according to the percentage of alcohol they contain. The increase would go from 26.5 percent to 53 percent, the highest in the last decade.
- Election campaigns for mayors and city councilors have started, and candidates are having difficulty avoiding large groups of people. Brazil currently has 5,570 municipalities, and the election will be held on November 15. The Superior Electoral Court is running several campaigns on health security throughout the electoral process.
- September saw a large drop in COVID-19 cases and death indicators compared to the previous six months in Brazil. The Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello, said that 30 million doses of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, in partnership with AstraZeneca, will be available in the country by January. The government is restricting foreigners from entering the country by land, rivers and sea for thirty days, especially those coming from Venezuela. Brazil is among the countries that trust scientists the least, according to a study by the American Pew Research Center. Conducted from October 2019 to March 2020, the survey took place in Europe, Russia, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region.
- The unemployment rate reached 13.8 percent, and 32.9 million Brazilians are out of work. This is the highest rate in 30 years. Congress passed a law that allocates BRL 20 billion to small business loans. After 6 months of decline, tax collection is up compared to 2019. The escape of foreign investors from the Stock Exchange reached BRL 88 billion by September, double the amount in 2019.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
The chances of Congress reaching an agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus package are more optimistic than they have been in weeks. For some members, President Trump’s hospitalization with COVID-19 brought a renewed urgency to reach a deal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has told Republicans to prepare for a new stimulus package as soon as midweek.
In recent days, proposals from both parties include another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet income requirements, more aid for U.S. airlines to avoid mass layoffs, funds for coronavirus testing and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.
The two sides are still trying to find a middle ground on extending unemployment insurance and providing more funds to state and local governments. Even if the two sides agree on an outline in the coming days, it would likely take Congress two weeks to write a bill, return from recess and pass the legislation through both chambers.
- How to Leverage Nostalgia-Based Marketing in a Coronavirus World, according to AdWeek.
- Essence has been forced to furlough staff due to revenue losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led the publication to cancel major events such as the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.
- New Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Financial Times, Washington Post and Axios cover issues impacting the healthcare industry, including social and racial inequities in the American healthcare system, how pharma AI and analytics are helping to address the pandemic, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the primary care system and family physicians.
- NFL: The Tennessee Titans were the first team to see a COVID-19 outbreak after more than a dozen players/staff tested positive. As a result, their Week 4 game against the Steelers was rescheduled for Week 7. The New England Patriots QB Cam Newton and Kansas City Chiefs practice squad QB both separately tested positive, causing the Patriots/Chiefs matchup to be postponed from Sunday, October 4 to Monday, October 5.
- MLB: After working with state authorities, MLB will allow up to 11,500 spectators at the National League Championship Series and World Series at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field. The Wild Card series, ALDS, NLDS, and the ALCS will not have any spectators.
- Regal Cinemas: The second largest cinema chain in the U.S. is suspending all operations in the U.S. and UK, starting this Thursday. The announcement follows news over the weekend that the release of the James Bond film, No Time to Die, has again been pushed back to April 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic.
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