Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | August 24, 2020
Lots of work going on in support of business!
Visit Saint Paul is offering a Ready Together PledgeThe idea is to bring business together under a commitment to cleanliness and safety. What happens when you sign up? By taking the pledge, your business will be listed so visitors and customers can be made aware of your participation. You will also gain access to resources and marketing tools to help communicate your pledge and commitment to public health. Not regulatory, not punitive, simply us banding together in support of us. Sign the pledge for business inclusion here
 
In case you missed it, last Thursday Mayor Carter announced his proposed budget and it calls for a zero percent tax increase and no layoffs for city staff. Our thoughts? Here is our statement – cautiously optimistic.
 
Tax implications of COVID-19 are with us all year. For those of you unable to capitalize on a PPP, you may be eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The SBA is providing training on this and other tax relief options. This week is on August 26, 9 a.m. CT; Register here. Other training and links to the SBA are at the bottom of this email. The SBA is really engaged here; take advantage of the tools and training they offer!
And for those of you considering new employment options, be sure to check out the Ramsey County jobs board. Many companies ARE hiring!
 
And, finally: You are invited to attend a Ramsey County Community Build Session being held Aug 31 - Sept 1 via video conferencing. This is a friendly reminder to register, if you haven't already, and/or share the invitation with your networks. These sessions are being held by Ramsey County Community and Economic Development to inform the development of a county-wide Competitiveness and Inclusion Strategic Plan that will guide its economic future. 

 
For more information, read the brief attached or visit the County's Plan Engagement website (scroll to the bottom of the homepage to register).

One last note: because we’ve been watching this, an update on USPS from Lockridge Grindal Nauen, earlier today: The House on Saturday passed a bill aimed at rolling back service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service that many say could harm the ability of Americans to vote by mail in the November general election. The Delivering for America Act would allocate an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service. The bill passed on a vote of 257 to 150, with all Democrats and 26 GOP members voting yes, including Minnesota Congressman Pete Stauber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated the Senate would not be taking up the House bill, and the White House has threatened to veto it should it come to the President’s desk.

BUSINESS ASSISTANCE FUNDS

The application for We  St. Paul/Midway fund remains live. Please apply, and share with any businesses you know were impacted by the civil unrest: See application here.
 


SBA continues to offer disaster assistance (low interest disaster loans) to businesses and residents of MN affected by civil unrest.
 
#BusinessDoingGood
  • MNUFC and Allianz Field hosted the DJs 4 Just-Us Fundraiser on August 16. It was a big success! Funds raised during the performance were donated to the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, We Love Lake Street, and We  St. Paul/Midway fund. In addition, MNUFC is working on a separate fundraiser for We  St. Paul/Midway fund based on the idea that Minnesota is, indeed, UNITED. Stand by for links to buy the patch the team will be wearing on their jerseys!

#BackToBusiness
UPDATES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
Monday, August 24, Commissioner Malcolm
  • Median age remains 36.0 years old
  • 7-day average positivity rate is 4.9%, stable from last week. As a reminder, state targets keeping this number under 15%, with an “immediate warning” risk level of over 5%. Our lowest was 3% in mid-June, highest was over 15% in late April.
  • Growth rate in total testing volume is 7.8%, continues to outpace growth of new cases which is now at 6.8% week to week.
  • Testing volume and hospitalization numbers remain stable.
  • The State Fair: as part of their regular inspection process, MDH Environmental Health team recently conducted regular inspections at State Fairgrounds. Shout-out to fair operators: all went well for food safety and compliance with Gov EO. All had COVID preparedness plans, employees had masks, and all were screening employees.
  • Sturgis: tests from Sturgis attendees identified 27 Minnesota cases, 1 requiring short term hospitalization and then release.
  • Tomorrow is 1 month since mask mandate took effect. MDH originally had indicated we would know something within a month. Question from the press: what metrics are you using and have you seen any improvement? Malcolm: always challenging to attribute specific impacts. We know that social gatherings have continued to grow despite presence of mask mandate… we have seen a relative stabilization of the situation. Still seeing high volume of cases, but has been relatively stable. Some are due to increased testing, of course, which is one of our metrics, but that ratio has remained stable. Where we had been concerned a month ago, we are seeing a more stable situation than what we had been fearing.
 
  • Mask distribution: still need masks? Contact a chamber near you; most of us have a limited number still available. Coordination for on-site pick-up at SPACC is through staci@saintpaulchamber.com.
 

  • US SBA is offering a Small Business Management Series From the SBA:  The Minnesota District Office is continuing to hold virtual trainings to help small businesses and entrepreneurs understand the basics using the Money Smart series that was developed in partnership with the FDIC. September = Start Up Sessions. October = Building Business Skills Sessions. November = Business Management Sessions. Click on the links below for more information and join us in the months ahead to better understand the basics of business ownership.
 
  • Minnesota among states with highest construction job losses From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, August 21: Minnesota has lost 9,900 construction jobs due in large part to Covid-19, ranking as one of the states harder hit by the pandemic. With a decline of 7.7% in construction jobs over the past year, Minnesota ranks 12th out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., on job losses, according to data compiled by the Associated General Contractors of America. Minnesota had 128,800 construction workers a year ago and 118,900 at the end of July.

  • Mayo Clinic turned profit in Q2 as many health providers lost big money From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, August 21: The Mayo Clinic on Thursday reported second-quarter operating income of $154 million, only half the operating income the health provider had in the same period last year. But most health systems lost money during the same period as pandemic lockdowns forced clinics to close and hospitals to delay non-essential procedures and tests. Minneapolis-based Allina Health this week reported an operating loss of $85 million in the second quarter, while Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services lost about $66 million; HealthPartners hasn't yet reported its second quarter financials.

 
  • New coronavirus cases low enough that all MN schools can reopen, state report suggests From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 20: Schools in every part of Minnesota may be able to safely reopen at least 50 percent capacity, according to new county-level data on the coronavirus pandemic. State guidelines recommend school leaders first look at county-level case data when deciding whether to bring students back to school for in-person instruction.
 
 
  • Minnesota’s unemployment rate drops; remains much higher for minority groups than whites From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, August 20: Minnesota's unemployment rate continues to fall after peaking at 9.9% in May. The state added 32,500 jobs in July, bringing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 7.7%, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The surge in jobs reflected the reopening of many businesses after a statewide stay-at-home order during the spring, but it's also a slowdown in growth from June. (Also, June's job-gain figure was revised downward, from about 84,000 to 74,700.)  Prior to the pandemic, Minnesota's unemployment rate was 3.1 percent. But DEED also noted that the unemployment pain hasn't been felt equally around the state. The jobless rate for Black Minnesotans was 15.3% in July, up from 6.3% in July 2019. The unemployment rate for Hispanic Minnesotans was 8.6% in July, up from 4.3% last year. White Minnesotans have an unemployment rate of 6.3%, up from 3.1% last year.

  • What pandemic? Twin Cities home sales beating last year From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, August 20: After a pandemic-induced slowdown this spring, the Twin Cities homes market has roared back to life over the summer, posting a a 10.3% spike in July in signed purchase agreements in July compared with the same month a year ago.
 

Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 70,298
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 8/24): 4.9% (stable from last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: over 5.7M
Confirmed cases globally: over 23.5M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 6,195 (representing 8.8% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 310 (up from 309 on 8/20)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 63,059
#s tested: 1,386,513
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,771 (1,313/74.1% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: over 114.7K
Total deaths globally: over 810K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 21,846 (867 deaths)
Ramsey County: 8,678 (286 deaths)
Dakota County: 5,337 (110 deaths)
Washington County: 2,663 (51 deaths) 

Resources
 
Visit our events page for webinars and events and the Ramsey County Means Business page for information to help businesses navigate resources during this pandemic. If you need more personalized assistance, contact our Rapid Response Team to assist you in finding an answer. 
 
Be safe and be well,

B

B Kyle
President/CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce