AV CHAMBER NOTE:
This is a conference call this morning FOR THE LARGEST COMPANIES IN MN through the MN BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP headed by Charlie Weaver. It includes GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, DEED and MANY OF THE SAME FROM THE MONDAY &THURSDAY CALLS. HERE, THEY ARE TRYING TO PREDICT THE PEAK (LIKELY JUNE).
2020 04 07 Call, MN Bus Partnership
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
The MN Business Partnership (MBP) is comprised of the largest employers in the state of Minnesota.
Charlie Weaver, CEO of the MBP, kicked off the call.
Gov Walz COS Chris Schmitter
– next big thing on Gov agenda is whether to extend the SAH order which expires Friday, April 10 at 5pm. Relying on Comm Malcolm, modeling data from here and other states, tracking scope of virus in our state. Additional factor is federal virus guidance which has changed dramatically in the last 2 weeks, feds are saying hunker down at least for another while. Gov has forecasted extending it, but we are being asked if he will make it more restrictive? At this point that is not the direction we would predict, as opposed to him just extending it as is. We see Dem and Republican Governors asking people to hunker down for a longer period of time and the feds are advising the same. Balance of public health with the massive economic effects of staying at home, which are also tied to health and well-being of people, and it’s a complex balance to strike.
MDH Comm Jan Malcolm
– globally there are now 1.5m cases. US has same number of cases as all of Europe. In MN we have over 1000 cases now. Rate of growth day to day shows steady but not exponential growth, which tells us we aren’t at the peak yet.
We need 14 days of reductions of cases before we should consider opening up the SAH order.
DEED Comm Steve Grove
– at DEED we are very focused on two work groups – Economic Security, and Social Distancing. On the second, the work group is looking at how we balance people returning to work while maintaining some kinds of social distancing as much as needed?
UI remains an enormous item for DEED. Yesterday’s EO was important to about 45,000 people who were “stuck” and not able to get benefits due to various factors. We have re-opened the information line. Reminder that employers need to tell employees about the availability of UI for them. Waiting to see when the new federal benefits will kick in for people who are self-employed, etc – feds need to give states guidance on pay rates and other items, which we think should come by the end of April. That’s frustrating for a lot of people who need money now, but we are on hold until they give us more information. If a business offers voluntary leave and the employees take it, tell them to apply because they are eligible. Finally, we are putting together a series of virtual job fairs because we know some of you are hiring, first fair starts today.
MMB Comm Myron Frans
– less than 6 weeks ago we issued the Feb forecast which showed a 1.5b projected surplus. Things have changed dramatically, obviously. We will have a report on April 10
with an update. Our data lags, though, so it’s hard to get a handle on what’s happening with our revenue stream, plus we are doing some significant spending on COVID-19 relief. We are looking back at 2008 at Great Recession where there was great uncertainty – it was a 4 year period before revenues recovered fully. We are doing projections using those numbers, but adding in the federal resources we are going to get. 35,000 of the state’s 50,000 employees are tele-working now, looking to add more.
Will likely add an additional budget forecast this year, still working on when to do this
. On federal funds – these are a recovery package, not a stimulus package – important difference.
US Sen Tina Smith
– this is an unprecedented challenge on so many fronts. It was not unpredicted, but feel it has shaken people very deeply. My first priority is that we have more work to do nationally on the issues of testing and supply chain related to testing. We know the virus will peak and then decline in summer, but then come back again in the fall, and we have to be prepared. Second to that is support to hospital systems – preparing for the surge, cutting back on elective procedures which is a big source of revenues, and seeing a greater than normal incidence of payment through Medicaid and Medicare which don’t reimburse hospitals at their actual costs. So financially it’s very hard for those systems. State and local and tribal government resources are also going to dry up. So financially it’s just very hard.
Joseph from Apogee Enterprises – to Comm Malcolm, I am scared that you said we need 14 days of reductions of cases before lifting the SAH. Malcolm – yes that is a daunting metric. We are looking at various factors and that’s just one. Our health care capacity to deal with influx of cases is of big concern.
Jim Owens, HB Fuller – for Comm Malcolm – what is your prediction for the current peak of disease? Malcolm – variability between different models is perplexing.
There are very optimistic scenarios showing much faster peak with lower numbers of cases, like in late April. Our own models show peak in June with higher numbers. We are buying time with social distancing to build up health care and hospital system capacity, which is critical so we can be ready, and we are pushing the curve out in time. But it’s still going to peak. Buying time is good to build capacity but bad for the economy.
We are looking at peak and thousands of cases at a time but still uncertain when. We see a growth in cases because we are doing more testing, but also because it is spreading.
Charlie – if the peak is in June, how are we doing in terms of equipment and ventilators etc? Malcolm – that’s a million dollar question. Our procurement team is working hard on this, to get N95 masks, and also masks for people to wear to protect other people – we call that source control. It’s important to wear masks to protect other people from our own germs. Really tough going on ventilators – globally everyone is still asking how fast can they be manufactured? How many are there in the world? Can we get them? We are well short of what we need.
Charlie – there is a difference between lifting the SAH order and having thousands attend a Twins game. What can be done? Chris Schmitter – absolutely. There are many nuances states will look at to balance the immediate public health needs and the broader economic needs. People in gathering in large numbers is one thing, while a business that can have people gather safely to work, incorporating social distancing, is another. Basic personal hygiene items are working – the washing of hands, cough into your sleeve, stay home and isolate if you are sick, etc.