Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | July 20, 2020
My day started with this unendurable reminder that a wide racial imbalance remains among those who still are jobless. Now is not the time to turn away from this: African Americans at all professional levels continue to be adversely impacted more – continuing to follow historic trends. Nearly 1 in 2 black workers in Minnesota has applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March. For white workers, it is about 1 in 4, according to DEED. More than 25% of black workers still were filing unemployment claims in June, compared with 9% of white workers.  Now is the time for all of us, in our organizations and in our support of policy, to deploy strategies and make decisions which close our racial economic disparity gaps and advance equity in the daily realities of running our businesses.

This week, the Federal Reserve is running its latest 5-minute survey, intended to provide current updates on the deep stresses related to COVID-19. Please take the time to send your feedback, to help the Fed shape monetary policy to help businesses weather this economic shock.

DEED received more than 27,400 applications for the Small Business Relief Grant (SBRG). Initial lottery has been completed, companies will verify eligibility before full list of grantees is available (by late August). 35% of applicants are women-owned businesses; 20% are minority-owned businesses; 5% are veteran-owned businesses; 70% are businesses with 6 or fewer employees.
 
Don’t forget: The application for We St. Paul/Midway fund is live. Please apply, and share with any businesses you know were impacted by the civil unrest: See Application here. Please donate if you can!

#BackToBusiness
  • Saint Paul RiverCentre will open its doors again later this month, prepared to host events well within Minnesota’s Phase III reopening plan.
  • Twins season starts Friday!
 
General Updates:
  • Remember, this is the last week of PUA.
  • Monday Administration Updates, Commissioner Malcolm, Kris Ehresmann:
  • 7-day positivity rate for testing is steady at 4.7%.
  • Number in hospital/ICU is steady at 247, and 115 in ICU (case numbers are much higher than May, with significantly lower hospitalizations currently)
  • Median age now at 37 years old
  • Week over week, we’ve seen 12.9% increase in the volume of testing, and 8.6% increase in new cases (down from over 10% increase in new cases last week)

  • Friday Administration Updates, Commissioner Malcolm, Kris Ehresmann:
  • 7-day positivity rate for testing is steady at 4.7%.
  • Reminder that the state is stepping up enforcement of EO in restaurant and bar operations. Since Monday, have heard from 120 complaints about potential violations. Most common complaint is employees not wearing masks, too many people, not enough space between tables/social distancing/protection protocols.
  • PPE supply chain issues are becoming an issue once again. apparently Minnesota has ample supplies now, but current spikes in cases are raising concern about supplies through the rest of the year.
  • Lab supplies also are getting tight. Though not recommended by MDH, some sectors now are requiring negative tests before employees can come back to work.
 
In the news:

  • Are Coronavirus Cases Rising or Falling in Your State? (hint: MN still bouncing around, but not leading the nation) From NPR, July 20: In the graphics linked here, explore the trend in new cases in your state and nationally.

  • Next for the coronavirus economy: Stimulus, emergency help, retraining, reopening? From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 18: The end of July is a turning point for residents as PUA ends. What’s next?

  • Federal Reserve expands lending program to nonprofits From Finance & Commerce, July 18: The Federal Reserve has opened its Main Street Lending Program to nonprofits (including hospitals, educational institutions, and social service organizations) with at least 10 employees and endowments of less than $3 billion.

  • COVID-19-Related Employee Retention Credits: General Information FAQs From the IRS News Site: The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses) that Eligible Employers pay their employees. This Employee Retention Credit applies to qualified wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an Eligible Employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000.

  • Delta ‘still overstaffed in some areas’ as airline tries to avoid furloughs From Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 17: CEO Ed Bastian remains “hopeful that by working together and invoking Delta’s legendary spirit of innovation, we can minimize, or even avoid, involuntary furloughs this fall.” As things currently stand, Delta may need to furlough or lay off as many as 5,750 employees. Other airlines are in similar situations, with systemwide flight capacity down by as much as 85% earlier this spring.

  • Minnesota's unemployment rate falls to 8.6% in June From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 16: Minnesota's unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in June, after hitting a record high 9.9% in May, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Overall, the state added 84,700 payroll jobs, up 3.2%.

  • Public Favors Small- Business Funds Going to Non-Chain Restaurants, Medical Groups, Private Schools From Morning Consult, July 13: U.S. adults are pointing to restaurants, schools and medical organizations as worthy recipients of the extra government boost.

  • Ramsey County announces three initiatives to help job seekers find employment From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 14: A jobs website, Techpaks for those without computers, and Career Labs in libraries are three ways the county will use the $96M in federal relief it received to help residents navigate the pandemic.


  • In downtown St. Paul, a boutique hotel now houses 34 homeless parents and kids From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 10: John and Stephanie Rupp openly acknowledge their stately downtown St. Paul hotel and athletic club has struggled during the pandemic, and even before it. Months before the health crisis, the Rupps had considered partnering with a nonprofit and converting at least part of the 13-story structure into a community center, or selling the century-old building and its boutique hotel outright. Those plans, however, never included sheltering homeless children. On Friday, that changed.

Legislature:

  • Judge hears lawsuit challenging Walz emergency orders From MPR News, July 16: the lawsuit argues that Walz overstepped his bounds and interfered with the legislative process.

  • Bonding bill includes historic funding for bus rapid transit in Twin Cities From Minnpost, July 17: The $1.35B for public construction projects includes $55M to complete funding for both the D Line and B Line BRT routes, which would serve some of the region’s most highly used corridors.

Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 47,107
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 7/17): 4.7% (steady last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: almost 3.8M
Confirmed cases globally: over 14.5M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 4,678 (representing 9.9% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 247 (down from 249 on 7/16)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 40,742
#s tested: 867,410
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,545 (1,187/76.8% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: almost 141K
Total deaths globally: over 607K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 14,835 (802 deaths)
Ramsey County: 5,719 (249 deaths)
Dakota County: 3,059 (100 deaths)
Washington County: 1,465 (40 deaths)

Resources
  • See available SBA COVID-19 training here.




Visit our e vents 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