Lumber prices finally dropping. New COVID Delta wave coming to US. North Korea: Kim’s sister pours cold water on US talks hopes.
Lumber prices finally dropping
A pandemic-driven spike in lumber prices is finally starting to crumble this month. In March 2020, the futures price of lumber was $303.40 per thousand board feet. By May this year, that number had quintupled to $1,607.50. But this past weekend, the price dropped to $904.90.
The prices began rising last year in part because sawmills had to cut back operations during the pandemic. Meanwhile, people stuck at home started tackling both new and overdue DIY projects, causing lumber demand and prices to skyrocket. These conditions have finally reversed now that sawmills are operating at full capacity, and DIYers are returning their their workplaces.
Analysts say the price should continue to drop steadily over the following months, before falling off sharply as construction slows down in the winter. However, they caution that the price drop may take a while to trickle down to lumber prices in retail home stores. Moreover, we shouldn’t expect the lumber price to drop to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.
Experts warn of new COVID Delta wave
The COVID Delta variant that has devastated India is fast becoming a dominant strain in the US. The Delta variant is the most contagious coronavirus strain yet and has already appeared in 49 states. Currently, only 45% of Americans are fully vaccinated and only 16 (mostly coastal) states have fully vaccinated more than half their residents. This means the Delta variant still has plenty of room to take hold and continue evolving in the US.
In Springfield, MO, only 32% of the surrounding county is vaccinated. Now, COVID-19 hospitalizations are up by 210% since June 1. More than 90% of the COVID infected patients tested positive for the Delta strain, and nearly all were unvaccinated.
A recent study in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, found that infection with the Delta variant doubles the chances of requiring hospitalization. According to the same study, you may still want to take precautions even if you are fully vaccinated. Early data shows that the Pfizer vaccine offers about 79% protection against the Delta variant, versus 92% for the Alpha variant. However, if you are vaccinated, this drastically reduces the chances of requiring hospitalization.
North Korea: Kim’s sister pours cold water on US talks hopes
After a statement from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which seemed to leave the door open for new talks with the US, the top US envoy to North Korea said he would meet with Kim’s representatives “anywhere, anytime without preconditions”.
But today, North Korean media released a statement from Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, downplaying hopes for talks. Kim Yo Jong said, “It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself. The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment”.
Experts believe the humanitarian situation in North Korea has deteriorated considerably over the past year. Not only did the country shut its borders with its only ally, China, the country also suffered extensive damage in floods and monsoons.
Last week, Kim Jong Un confirmed that there were extensive food shortages in the country. Observers fear that North Korea may be reluctant to resume talks until the situation becomes worse still, or until they require emergency aid.
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