Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | August 3, 2020
Today is a day of questions for me.
How was your weekend? Minnesota had a good weekend sports-wise: Twins, Wild, Lynx all win, Saints brought in a win on Sunday, and the Loons are in the playoffs… gotta love it!
And wonderings… how is Minnesota’s health faring? As of Sunday, while non-ICU hospitalization levels are steady between 140-170 people/day, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen ICU cases up from a low of 103 people in mid-July to 149 people in ICU on Sunday. That’s not a good trend, people….
How is Minnesota’s economy faring? I have found the MN Chamber’s economic dashboard to be helpful.
  • For now, we know that the state’s new estimate is a $4.7M deficit over the next 2 years (article is below).
  • We also know that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is at 8.5%. The national unemployment rate is 11.1%.
Most of us also are paying close attention to discussions underway in D.C. right now: the Senate’s HEALS Act facing off against the House’s HEROES Act. No matter the outcome in terms of ongoing fiscal support during this pandemic, I remain deeply concerned about our economic future over the next 1-2 years. Both involve significant spending that will impact our small businesses AND our federal deficit position.

Quote of the day by St. Paul economist and writer, Ed Lotterman, on real world economics ahead of us: “a whole flock of fiscal chickens has come home to roost.” Read more.  
The generosity of donations for the We St. Paul/Midway fund continues to astound me.  Just this past Friday the Minnesota Wild - and Craig/Helen Leipold personally – each donated $25,000 to the fund. People, this level of generosity is really noteworthy. And what I said to them is what I’ll say to so many of you who have donated, both large and small:
As I’ve been talking with businesses, nonprofits, recipients of grants and donors, one thing has become abundantly clear: this intimate, invested support of business recovery has been through the sacrifice of other businesses, other individuals, who are leaning in. This isn’t about government subsidy; this is about people – like you – who are willing to pay a price of your own in service to others. This is extraordinary, as is your generosity. Time and again, more is asked of leaders like you, and your character continues to shine through. I know it isn’t easy, and my gratitude multiplies with every contribution.
Today I am feeling especially grateful. And, yes, my weekend was really good.

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.
Side Area Business Association (ESABA) has opened an assistance fund. East Side Business Assistance Fund – Donate or Request Help!
Washington County business assistance fund: Washington County is launching a $10 million program to provide grants to small businesses within the county to help them recover from the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. The fund will provide one-time grant awards of up to $15,000 are available to eligible applicants to assist with non-payroll expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, payments to suppliers and other operational expenses. The online application will be available August 10 through 24. Find out more.

Dakota County Small Business Relief Grant Program
Dakota County has allocated $10 million to support small businesses that have had a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One-time grants up to $10,000 will be awarded to eligible applicants to assist with payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other operational expenses that have occurred since March 1, 2020. Applications accepted through August 14. 

Burnsville CARES Business Grant Program
The City of Burnsville will also provide grants up to $20,000 to assist eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. The City has set aside $1 Million in the Burnsville CARES Business Grant Program so that a business of any type, any size with a physical presence in Burnsville can access assistance of up to $20,000. Applications accepted through August 14.
  • Marvin Restores Employee Pay, Benefits Amid Housing Rebound From Twin Cities Business:, July 31: The Warroad-based manufacturer halts factory furloughs and will return salaries to pre-pandemic levels on August 1. Marvin is a fourth-generation member of the family that owns the Warroad-based business, which now employs more than 6,000 people. “Marvin has not laid off any employees,” Paul Marvin told TCB on Thursday. That was one of the company’s overarching goals.

  • Construction downtown continues!  The Viking Building and Cleveland Circle are well underway. And just this month The Gallery St. Paul broke ground at Wacouta and 9th streets.
  • Osborn370 filling up! In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of the downtown of Minnesota’s capital city, two 10,000 square foot leases have been signed – and more on the way – at Osborn370. Business is still happening, and companies large and small are coming together in Saint Paul.
General Updates:
Monday, Administration Updates: Commissioner Malcolm
  • Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan: See the details of the full plan.
  • 7-day rolling average is now at 5.1%. Goal is to stay under 5%. 
  • Pace of growth: US adds more than 100K cases and 100 deaths/day.
  • In MN: 622 more cases yesterday, to 56,560 total cases. Over 2,000 new cases in total over the weekend.
  • Median age remains at 36 yo.
  • We've been noting the declining hospital census. Though we do anticipate increased hospital cases as # of cases increase.
  • 10.4% increase in total testing volume, vs 9.2% increase in new positive cases, measured week to week.
  • Compliance with EO
  • 370 complaints now, through Environmental Health Division, from restaurants and bars.
  • Rodeo in Itasca Cty, Sturgis going ahead at EOM August… remind people that our decisions impact our families - and others' families.
  • There is an ask for plasma donations: "convalescent plasma." for those who had COVID-19. they have antibodies in their plasma, and is being researched as potential treatment for COVID-19 infections. Red Cross, Memorial Blood Centers and others are asking for donations to help in this research.
  • Blood banks need general donations as well.

  • Hardest Hit Neighborhoods The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has put thousands of Twin Cities residents at risk of losing their homes. Over the past four months, more than 400,000 workers in the region have filed applications for unemployment insurance. While the economic disruption has hit hard across our entire region, some communities and households are feeling the effect disproportionately and are at greater risk of losing their homes. Family Housing Fund partnered with Wilder Research to overlay data on unemployment claims with what we already know about households who were struggling to pay for housing before the pandemic. We identified the zip codes, occupations, and household types (ie. with or without children) where housing security was hit hardest by the pandemic. We hope this data will inform federal, state, and local COVID-19 emergency response efforts to prevent people from losing their homes Read the report and explore the data.

  • Hotel owners have cut to the bone to weather COVID-19. Many still haven’t cut deep enough. From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: Unprecedented chaos still rattles hotels roughly five months after Covid-19 began coursing through the nation. The virus has inverted fundamental economics of the hospitality business, and forecasters don’t anticipate a full rebound from the devastation until two to five years from now. Hoteliers are bracing for a recovery that’s longer and more volatile than the aftermath of the Great Recession.

  • New data warns of ‘potential softening’ of state’s economy From Finance & Commerce: Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains lower than the nation’s as a whole thanks in part to the state’s diverse economy, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. One thing to watch is hourly work levels, which rose in June but have flattened since, according to a new dashboard from the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, a provider of research and information about the state’s economy and workforce.

  • Remote Work Likely To Continue With School Plans In Flux From Twin Cities Business: With the specifics of many Minnesota districts still in question, many companies have held off on announcing fall plans. Target, the largest employer in Minneapolis with more than 8,000 workers according to a 2019 report, has no plans for a full fledged return to headquarters this year. “Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our team,” a spokesperson said Thursday. “We’re taking a gradual approach to returning to the office with the vast majority of team members working remotely—either full-time or combined with going into the office—for the rest of 2020.”

  • Xcel posts profit increase despite effects of COVID-19 on electricity demand From the Star Tribune, July 30: COVID-19’s grip on the U.S. economy has sapped electricity demand at factories and offices — and Xcel Energy hasn’t been spared. Still, Minneapolis-based Xcel notched a healthy increase in second-quarter profits as hot weather and cost cutting helped offset a 7% decline in its weather-adjusted electricity sales.

  • What COVID costs CEOs: A global pandemic and a worst-in-decades economic shock bring down corporate paychecks. For now. From Twin Cities Business, July 30: At least 20 Minnesota public companies cut CEO salaries during the second quarter, according to Business Journal research. Reductions ranged from 20% to 100%, lasting anywhere from a couple of months to a year.

  • These Minnesota colleges could ‘perish’ after pandemic, researcher claims    From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 29: Colleges and universities have already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the Covid-19 pandemic. They're now scrambling to see how — or if — they can bring students back to campus this fall. And it could get worse: A New York University professor scored hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities on their prospects in the aftermath of the pandemic, predicting that dozens will fail due to revenue streams being too closely linked to tuition. On his list in MN: Bethel, College of St. Benedict, Concordia Moorhead, Macalester, St. Scholastica

  • Last week Senate Republicans introduced several bills that comprise the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools), $1 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package (included is expanded access to the PPP to 501c6 organizations). The package includes extension of additional UI benefits, $200 extra per week – down from $600/week that expired at the end of July. See here for an overview provided by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

COVID-19 update as of 8/3/2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 56,560
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 7/27): 4.8% (steady last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: almost 4.7M
Confirmed cases globally: over 18.1M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 5,298 (representing 9.4% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 302 (up from 257 on 7/30)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 49,565
#s tested: 1,070,925
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,616 (1,231/76.2% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: over 155K
Total deaths globally: almost 691K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 18,009 (819 deaths)
Ramsey County: 6,944 (261 deaths)
Dakota County: 3,991 (103 deaths)
Washington County: 1,917 (43 deaths) 
  • See available SBA COVID-19 training here.

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 Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce