Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | August 6, 2020
My thoughts today are on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on business. Development still pushes on across the metro. We continue to see cranes in the sky, a very welcome view indicating that big projects are enduring.

RiversEdge plans are underway; the Seven Corners Gateway site will be rebuilt; and just this week I learned of two very nice leasing deals – new businesses moving into downtown. Of course, I juxtapose that against the very real drama being played out in the small business marketplace. As we review the applications for our We St. Paul/Midway fund, as we read about restaurants that are closing never to re-open, we see another story of true, life-changing loss.
Your chamber – and chambers all across the country – feel this pain with you. Our very existence is based on the principle of advancing the business community. My hope is that, though you may not always see it, you know that we are dedicated to serving you every day. Please know you can reach out anytime – we stand at the ready, to help as we can.

Mask distribution went well in the metro. Watch this video to see how we did in Ramsey County! 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
Ramsey County: Round 2, Small Business Relief Fund ($7M): this round is targeting self employed/sole proprietors, and small businesses with 20 employees or fewer.
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.
East 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.

Rosemont Cares: Grants of up to $10,000 available to local small businesses in Rosemount. Application period opens on August 10. Learn more
SBA is offering disaster assistance (low interest disaster loans) to businesses and residents of MN affected by civil unrest

  • Comcast announces $100 million multi-year program to advance social justice and equality. To help create a more equitable, just and inclusive society, Comcast is developing a comprehensive, multiyear companywide plan to allocate $100 million to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability. As part of this announcement, Comcast in the Twin Cities immediately allocated a $500,000 cash and in-kind contribution to support the relief and rebuilding efforts in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We are recipients and we are grateful!

  • McGough is pulling teams together to reach out to businesses damaged by civil unrest, offering their assistance in support of the businesses and building owners. Thank you for leaning in!

General Updates:
Thursday, DEED Call
  • DEED: The SBRG program released 6 weeks ago…
  • lottery done, initial winners have been sent to the partnering nonprofits to complete eligibility process.
  • Another $2.5M associated with cultural malls; 12 malls announced last week, max of $250K each.
  • Continue to track Congressional work re the potential to reinstate PUA
  • Dept of Education: Safe Learning Plan Click here to see the details of the full plan.
  • Commerce: in the middle of appraiser licensing, renewals due EOM August. Also tracking federal negotiations around Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). Commerce administers this program.
  • DLI: over 3700 workers comp claims now, mostly around how/if/when employees can/should work from home. Additional calls around how childcare can/must be provided, particularly as school year begins soon.
  • Revenue: of the $841M Coronavirus Relief Funds for cities/counties in MN, now $817M has been distributed thus far. 2-3 more distribution dates area head yet. Communities CAN pool their resources in service of businesses, particularly if one does not have an EDA. 

Wednesday, Administration Updates: Commissioner Malcolm
  • 7-day rolling average is now at 5.2%. Goal is to stay under 5%. 
  • In MN: 629 more cases yesterday, to 57,779 total cases.
  • 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.
  • 9.9% increase in total testing volume, vs 9.1% increase in new positive cases, measured week to week.
  • Compliance with EO: 463 complaints now, through Environmental Health Division, from restaurants and bars.
  • Reminder about the need to get immunizations, particularly as we approach the Fall.
  • We are seeing a drop in immunization coverage for children overall, across the country. Though this is improving again in MN.
  • Treatment efficacy is improving. Malcolm: last week we talked about treatment advances with remdesivir and dexamethasone steroidal treatment, encouraging results. And earlier oxygen therapy, preventing the need for ventilation in ICU.
  • Plasma donors: convalescent plasma as a therapy. Mayo Clinic early results are very encouraging, show that it appears to be working.

In the news:

  • More Americans Cite COVID-19 as Most Important U.S. Problem From, August 5: WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans grew more likely in the past month to consider the coronavirus or COVID-19 to be the nation's top problem, with the percentage citing it rising from 20% in a May 28-June 4 poll to 30% in July. Still, this remains well below the 45% high in April when most of the country was under shelter-in-place orders to avoid further spread of the disease.

  • Commercial real estate deals show July improvement, but recovery seen more than a year away From Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 4: Since the industry’s COVID-19 impact survey began in April, acquisitions and new development activity for both industrial and office buildings proved relatively strong last month. In fact, office deals improved in July for the first time since April. Some industrial building buyers noted their businesses were helped by the pandemic’s acceleration of e-commerce.

  • Lockridge Grindal Nauen Federal Update, August 3: White House and Congress Resuming Relief Bill Negotiations: Talks to break an impasse over a new virus relief package are increasingly urgent this week with millions of unemployed Americans left without additional aid, and the Senate scheduled to leave for the August recess at the end of the week. The two sides are attempting to close the gulf between the $3.5 trillion virus relief package that the House passed in May, and the $1 trillion plan that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week. Among the biggest differences is whether to extend the $600 a week in extra unemployment aid that was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus passed in March. Senate leadership has proposed cutting that by as much as two-thirds and creating a formula that would replace about 70% of former wages.
COVID-19 update as of 8/5/2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 58,640
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 8/5): 5.2% (increase from last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: almost 4.8M
Confirmed cases globally: over 18.8M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 5,421 (representing 9.2% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 319 (up from 302 on 8/3)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 51,604
#s tested: 1,105,094
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,636 (1,240/75.8% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: almost 158.5K
Total deaths globally: almost 708.7K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 18,641 (828 deaths)
Ramsey County: 7,233 (261 deaths)
Dakota County: 4,188 (104 deaths)
Washington County: 2,009 (44 deaths) 

Be safe and be well,

B Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce