COVID-19 UPDATES | MARCH 24, 2020
Today is Takeout Tuesday! Support a restaurant, bring dinner home, and share your adventure at #GreatAmericanTakeout. You know I’ve said this before: we can change the world by doing small things with great love.

I’m challenged today by an article I read, about navigating our lives right now largely in isolation. Zoom stock is up more than 117% in the past 3 months – talk about creative adaptation. Holding on to familiar routine, albeit via video, can be very helpful. Perhaps now is the time to sustain, to breathe, to connect in new ways and even celebrate more time with those fabulous children at home! I’m trying a little of that myself, and went for a run today just to get myself off my dining room chair.

May you, too, find a moment of regeneration and connection. Of note is the Rice Larpenteur Alliance’s creative adaptation: led by SPACC’s own Kim O’Brien, RLA is delivering at-home kits to families this week! Businesses and Alliance partners donated supplies, Kim and her family packed these gifts to support local businesses and deliver a message of solidarity and support at a difficult time. Read the Pioneer Press article – you’ll feel good for the rest of the evening.

COVID-19 update

Governor’s now-standard 2pm briefing (now from self-quarantine) featured no new Executive Orders today, and no Shelter In Place order issued.

This Governor is taking a data-based approach to protect Minnesotans and our economy. The Governor also is working with industry to keep our economy moving: talking to Medical Alley and engaging their manufacturing supply chain experts as they ramp up capacity and modify production to produce needed products. Walz also has communicated with food producers, such as CHS, Land O’Lakes, Cargill, General Mills, and they’re “on it” keeping the food pipeline moving.

As of this morning, 262 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Of those 21 cases required hospitalization and 88 already are on the mend such that they no longer need to be isolated. In total 5812 tested, 1 death. The counties represented now represent a significant section of the state, the highest count being in Hennepin County at 103, and Ramsey County at 26.

Unemployment Insurance : Applications are nearing 150,000 with most in the food prep/service, personal care, sales, and office workers.

Money available to small business: As I reported in my Sit Rep yesterday, last night, DEED announced the Small Business Loan Program (SBEL) . This is good news for the independent contractors, many of whom are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Not so good for nonprofits, who are not eligible. Loans are for small businesses affected by EOs 20-04 and 20-08, ordering certain sectors of business to be closed .

The intent is for business first to use SBA’s Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds, but both can be applied for at the same time. See more information here . Training webinars are twice daily, and recordings of those webinars are hosted on our website .

In the Legislature : We are hearing that the Minnesota Legislature will try to convene Thursday. On the agenda is a list of requests from Governor Walz related to COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some key items on Governor Walz supplemental budget list:
  • $200 million to establish a COVID -19 emergency fund
  • $29 million for emergency child care grants
  • $10 million for DEED’s Small Business Loan Guarantee Fund
  • $9 million for food shelves 
See a full list of requests from the Governor dated 3/21 here .

Adapting to changes because of COVID-19, Metro Transit announced Monday they will be reducing service by 40%. New service changes will take effect on Wednesday, March 25. Most local bus routes will run at Saturday service levels, while the METRO Blue Line and METRO Green line will operate every 20 minutes throughout the day.

MNSure: special enrollment period is extended through 4/21/2020.

Want to help? Steve Kelly, Director of Homeland Security’s Emergency Management public private partnership, wants to hear from you:  hsem.ppp@state.mn.us .

Lastly, while our in-person events are on hold, we are connecting with our members and partners to continue to bring you high quality digital content. You can find several upcoming sessions on our Community Calendar that can help ease the Impact of COVID-19 on workers and businesses.

Make sure to visit our   COVID-19 resource page   with links to resources, the latest news, and guidance. You can also find ways you can help.

Be well !


B Kyle
President/CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce