North America Update: September 15
Click here to subscribe. Keep an eye out for the next weekly update on Tuesday, September 22.
- Public health officials will be watching U.S. infection trends closely this week for any early indications of a potential spike in cases due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. More states and cities are managing their openings, including the resumption of indoor dining in New York City later this month. Epidemiologists will also be watching as temperatures begin to decline and more people stay indoors. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 34,300 new cases per day, down more than 15 percent compared to a week ago, according to Johns Hopkins data, and lower than the roughly 70,000 new cases a day the U.S. reported a few weeks back.
- America’s economic recovery continues to advance with a slight improvement in several high-frequency indicators each week. However, the absence of additional federal stimulus before the election threatens to limit the pace of the rebound. Leaders in Congress remain far apart on a new stimulus package. The U.S. labor market recovered another 1.37 million jobs in August but still needs to recoup 11.5 million more to reach pre-pandemic levels. Consumer spending appears to have held up so far, but the travel, dining and entertainment sectors are still hurting. The housing market continues to be a bright spot. Record-low mortgage rates have helped fuel demand for homes, sending mortgage applications above pre-pandemic levels.
- Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Incyte Corporation will grant the U.S. emergency-use authorization for their Rheumatoid-arthritis drug, Olumiant, as a treatment for COVID-19 after a study showed it helped hospitalized patients recover sooner. The companies said that adding Olumiant to Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences, reduced one day off the median recovery time for patients, compared with patients who received Remdesivir, but not Olumiant. The study of more than 1,000 patients began in May and was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- Canada continues to experience a “slow but steady growth in cases,” according to Canada’s top public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam. In Ontario, the average number of new COVID-19 cases has doubled in the last three weeks. The province’s daily count has exceeded 200 a day in the last four days, which has not happened since early June. Last week in British Columbia, where cases are also on the rise, the province began reintroducing restrictions, closing nightclubs and banquet halls, and ending the sale of liquor in restaurants at 10:00 pm.
- The City of Toronto’s public health department has opened the country’s first free pandemic quarantine hotel. The 140-bed facility is meant to give people from low-income households, especially those who live with elderly relatives under the same roof, a free place to self-isolate when they test positive for COVID-19.
- Marseille and Bordeaux, France have announced strict new measures to limit public gatherings in response to a major spike in new cases over the past two weeks, threatening to overwhelm hospitals in the two large provincial cities.
- The German government wants to extend the blanket travel warning for more than 160 non-European countries until the end of September, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office. Beginning in October, the COVID-19 infection status in each country will be evaluated individually. For countries that are classified as high-risk areas, travel warnings will continue to apply.
- German Drug developer Janssen has been approved for a vaccination trial in Germany, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute. In the second phase of the study, a larger number of volunteers will be tested to determine whether the vaccine is effective, safe and tolerable. Janssen’s vaccine candidate is a vector vaccine that uses an attenuated virus to induce the body to produce an immune response to the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the institute explained.
- Companies are shifting their focus toward digitalization, helping them meet the needs of the great digital migration brought about by the pandemic. There has been a radical shift in the way businesses operate, with years’ worth of digital transformation taking place within a compressed period.
- The Japanese government has taken its commitment to undergo digitalization seriously, expressing a commitment to go paperless within the next 12 months. Companies such as SMBC have announced that they will allow clients to open brokerage accounts without providing Hanko seals (used in Japan in place of signatures on some documents).
- Singapore has also relaunched the government LifeSG mobile app to encourage citizens toward digital transactions. The revamped app will provide citizens access to over 40 government services, including passport renewals, school registration, skill upgrading, and payment of taxes.
- The Mexican government presented the Economic Package for Fiscal Year 2021, and among all its changes and proposals regarding taxes, there is a detail that has attracted attention in terms of services and digital platforms. According to the document, there are companies operating and providing services in the digital sector that have not yet clarified their tax situation, which means VAT withholding and payment have not been recorded in accordance with the System’s review processes of Tax Administration (SAT). As a result, the Mexican Government proposed that digital platforms such as Uber, DiDi, Amazon, Netflix, TikTok, Facebook, Zoom and Spotify have their services blocked.
- According to José Luis Alomía, director-general of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, Mexico assured the World Health Organization (WHO) that 25 million people will receive vaccines to treat the coronavirus, the first of many steps needed to ensure universal and free access to those who need it.
- The United States lowered its travel warning to “reconsider travel” to Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca PLC AZN and Oxford University resumed in Brazil on Monday after the country’s health regulator received confirmation over the weekend that its British equivalent MHRA approved the restart, a company representative said.
- The Ministry of Health reported that Brazil has recorded a total of 4,330,455 COVID-19 cases and 131, 600 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. Of this total, 3,573,958 people have recovered.
- According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most G20 countries recorded an “unprecedented” contraction in their economies in the second quarter of 2020 as COVID-19 containment measures weighed heavily on the group. Brazil’s GDP declined 9.7 percent compared to the previous quarter and 11.4 percent compared to Q2 in 2019. However, the fall in activity in the country between April and June this year was much less than in countries like Mexico, South Africa and France. The economic activity index rose 2.15 percent in July, according to the Central Bank. Due to the pandemic and the increase in exports to meet the demands of foreign markets, the Ministry of Agriculture raised the estimate for the value of the country’s agricultural production in 2020 to BRL 771.4 billion. The trade balance had a surplus of USD $ 1.73 billion in the second week of September.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
Americans are increasingly using their retirement savings to make financial ends meet during the pandemic. Nearly 3 in 10 people reduced their savings or stopped saving for retirement altogether due to the economic fallout from COVID-19, according to a recent FinanceBuzz survey. Around 30 percent of people with retirement accounts withdrew money over the last 60 days. The U.S. jobs market is slowly recovering, but nearly 30 million people have collected unemployment benefits. As a result, millions of Americans are reporting difficulty with paying household bills.
As COVID-19 ravages the globe, Hootsuite has been tracking how consumers in the U.S. are discussing the virus on social media and discovered that users are not thrilled by the latest developments with COVID-19 tracing apps, Adweek reported.
- New Virtual Programming: New virtual events from FORTUNE, Washington Post, POLITICO and Axios will focus on a wide variety of topics, such as the future of business and reskilling the workforce, the power of the evangelical vote in the 2020 election, education inequalities in America, and the state of medicine and chronic pain.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be pared down and staged over two days this year, including pre-recorded events, no traditional balloon handlers or live bands, and just 25 percent participation.
- MLB: The MLB proposed a plan for a post-season playoff bubble to the MLB Player’s Association and is awaiting approval. Plans include locations for the Division Series as well as the Championship Series for both the National League and American League.
For more information about how we are helping clients solve in this uncertain time, please contact:
- Micho Spring, Chair, Global Corporate Practice, email@example.com
- Pam Jenkins, President, Global Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org