Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | July 23, 2020
We all heard that a statewide mask mandate was announced yesterday. As a gesture of support to businesses, the Department of Administration is providing a one-time contribution of disposable masks. That distribution is being coordinated through your chambers of commerce across the state. In Ramsey County, together with our county, cities, and other chambers/business associations, SPACC is coordinating a distribution plan. Stand by for an update; masks will be available on Monday!

How long will we have this mandate? Governor says, “I wish I knew.” Isn’t that the truth about so much of this….

I just received notification that the downtown St. Paul YMCA is closing. Another victim to the economic fall-out from COVID-19. They tell us that they will reopen the teen tech center programming when/if possible. This is truly a loss for downtown.

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.
 
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!

P.S. the City of Saint Paul has announced its new Director of PED: Nicolle Goodman, lately of Oklahoma City. Get ready for her general awesomeness - you will be impressed!

#BusinessDoingGood
  • St. Paul Saints Senior Class Salute tournament! Presented by Great Coca-Cola, is giving high school seniors in the state of Minnesota one more chance to play for their teams, is underway here at CHS Field and the University of Northwestern.Tickets are on sale now for $10 and capacity is limited to 250 fans per game. Buy Tickets, Learn More, Stream Games

#BackToBusiness

  • Minnesota State Fair announces drive-thru event to sample fan favorites! From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 22: The Minnesota State Fair may be canceled, but fair fans will still have an opportunity to eat their way through the fairgrounds later this summer. The Minnesota State Fair Food Parade will be a drive-thru alternative to the typical fair, which was called off this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The multi-hour experience will take patrons to 16 vendors along a 1.5-mile route through the fairgrounds.

  • Uh, did I already say that Twins season starts Friday?! Who’s ready for some sports!? Oh, and the Wild play their first game on August 2 against the Canucks. We welcome our teams!
 
General Updates:
  • Remember, this is the last week of PUA.
  • Thursday Administration Updates
  • 11am DEED Call
  • Reviewed mask mandate and referred us to www.statesafe.mn.gov for details.
  • https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/facecover.html
  • FAQs: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/facecoverfaq.html
  • From Commerce, re mask requirement: remind people that one authorized exception is temporary removal for purposes of determining someone's identity. Banks and credit unions have provisions for asking incoming customers to stop, remove mask, for purposes of a camera, providing for security.
  • Lots of questions about the distribution of masks: check with chamber(s) in your county if you have questions.
  • Ramsey County: SPACC
  • Washington County: Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dakota County: Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Hennepin County: Minneapolis Regional Chamber
  • From Commerce, not specifically COVID-related: coming August 1 implementation of key actions of Legislature this year: adoption of law that enables financial institutions to watch out for suspect transactions that involve seniors, vulnerable customers. Similar law in place re securities professionals, where there were concerns that a customer might be the victim of a fraud or exploitation. That concept is now extended to banks/credit unions as well. Increased risk right now, due to more isolation of seniors.
  • From Revenue: regarding local government distribution of federal CARES Act $, approx. $600M of the $841M already has been distributed. The balance will be distributed before the end of August.

  • Wednesday Administration Updates: Governor Walz, Commissioner Malcolm
  • EO 20-81, requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain setting to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Click here to read the official order.
  • Takes effect Saturday, 12:00am
  • 4M masks to businesses through chambers
  • From national public health leaders: MN is #1 in terms of reporting.
  • Again: social distance, hand washing, hygiene
  • Goldman Sachs: has looked at effects of mandates on mask wearing and study shows mask wearing jumps at least 25% if it’s a mandate. We have tried to make it basic common sense. No business wants to be the next hot spot for COVID. Please ensure all workers are masked. We ask that you adjust your COVID preparedness plans so the mask mandate message is crystal clear.
  • Further masking will slow transmission and save significant points in GDP decline
  • Forbes: states with mask mandates vs those who don’t: with mandatory mask is 16% ris in new cases; without mandate is 79% average rise.
  • 28 states + D.C. and Puerto Rico have statewide mandates.
  • In MN, many municipalities – and businesses - already have mask mandate.
  • Workers also must wear outdoors when not social distancing
  • Business obligations, what a face covering is, and exemptions here

  • General overview of the masking plan
  • Mandatory for indoor business and public spaces indoors
  • Also applies to workers outdoors and who cannot maintain social distancing
  • Commonsense exceptions like working alone, exercising in a gym, or doing physically strenuous work, or you have a mental health condition (basic CDC exemption components)
  • Exemptions for eating and drinking at the restaurant, when you are "with your party."
  • Penalties:
  • Fine up to $100, petty misdemeanor
  • For businesses: point is to prevent businesses from flagrant violators
  • Requests of business:
  • post sign to communicate the mandate to workers and customers
  • update business preparedness plan to include masks
  • Regarding enforcement:
  • don’t want business to be "mask police."  
  • When encountering a customer not wearing a mask, engage in conversation (i.e. due to health reasons?). If being difficult, follow normal process for this.  
  • Not requiring you to deny service.
  • Can't physically engage someone in any way. MAY deny service, but want to limit confrontations. Goal is not enforcement but compliance.
  • Government really is following business on this…. Is helpful to the state. Momentum is building already.
  • Chilren under 2 shouldn’t wear masks for safety reasons, and children under 5 are exempt in the EO.

In the news:

  • US signs contract with Pfizer for COVID-19 vaccine doses From the Star Tribune, July 22: WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will pay Pfizer nearly $2 billion for a December delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine the pharmaceutical company is developing, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday. The U.S. could buy another 500 million doses under the agreement, Azar said.

  • Debt relief for new SBA-backed loans, July 23: As part of their coronavirus debt relief efforts, the SBA is paying six months of principal, interest, and any associated fees for current and new SBA-backed loans disbursed before September 27 in the agency’s most popular loan programs (7(a), 504, and Microloan).

  • A Really Exciting Library Update – Career Labs Partnership with Ramsey County COVID-19 has left a devastating impact on our community's workforce. Over 70,000 Saint Paul residents have applied for unemployment insurance since mid-March. A high percentage of these applications are BIPOC and people with a high school degree or less. Currently, supplemental Federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits are set to run out at the end of July. As a direct response to this situation, SPPL will partner with Ramsey County Workforce Solutions to provide enhanced levels of workforce services and supports to Saint Paul residents as they seek employment, build career skills, and navigate career transitions. This partnership is part of Ramsey County’s efforts to deliver COVID-19 workforce relief programs, and the City of Saint Paul will receive a significant amount of Ramsey County CARES funding to support this work.


  • In all, the P.P.P. saved between 1.5 million and 3.5 million jobs, according to a new study by researchers at M.I.T., the Federal Reserve and the ADP Research Institute.

  • Stimulus helps Stocks and Bonds Recover Rapidly in Q2 From CliftonLarsonAllen, July 21: The monetary and fiscal interventions the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and the U.S. government implemented in response to COVID-19 helped stoke a remarkable rally in risk assets in Q2 of 2020. 


Legislature
  • Minnesota’s second Special Session has ended. On Tuesday morning, the House and Senate passed HF 1, the police reform and accountability bill. The bill passed 102-29 in the House, and 60-7 in the Senate. It doesn’t go as far as the original House proposal did, but represents a compromise between the two bodies and the Governor. The bill text is here.

  • The bonding bill, which also included some key tax provisions (Section 179 federal conformity), failed to receive the required 3/5 vote in the House so did not pass. The bill text is here.

  • It is expected that Governor Walz may call the House and Senate back around August 10th for what would be the third Special Session of the summer. His emergency powers expire on August 12th, and he is likely to extend them to mid-September. The law requires the Legislature to be in session for him to do extend the Peacetime Emergency.

  • Walz says no public works bonding bill is likely before November election From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 22: Hours after the Minnesota Legislature failed to pass a bill to fund public construction projects before adjourning early Tuesday morning, dozens of members Minnesota building trades unions — decked out in orange safety vests and yellow hard hats — lined up on the state Capitol Mall to plead with Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders to return for another special session and finally approve a bonding bill. Some suggested they could do it during a likely special session in August. Sorry, Walz said just an hour later. “We can’t do it in August.”

Congress
  • New Stimulus Package Expected Today—$1,200 Second Stimulus Checks, Unemployment Benefits May Be Included From FORBES: Senate Republicans are expected to introduce their long-awaited, proposed stimulus package Thursday—and here’s what’s likely inside. Here’s what you need to know. Second stimulus checks: How much is the second stimulus check? According to the Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants second stimulus checks of $1,200 included in this proposed stimulus package. However, McConnell and White House negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have not confirmed the amount of the second stimulus checks or the criteria to receive a second stimulus check.

  • GOP splits as virus aid package could swell past $1 trillion From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 21: WASHINGTON (AP) — The price tag for the next COVID-19 aid package could quickly swell above $1 trillion as White House officials negotiate with Congress over money to reopen schools, prop up small businesses, boost virus testing and keep cash flowing to Americans while the virus crisis deepens in the U.S.

  • Senate Leadership Reveals Outline of Next Relief Package Proposal From Lockridge Grindal Nauen, July 20: Senate leadership plans to unveil their opening bid for the next round of economic aid this week, which is expected to include providing continued unemployment insurance subsidies, tax incentives for employers to avoid layoffs and encourage rehiring, and a new round of checks and direct payments sent by the IRS.The proposal will resemble much of the CARES Act, but it is not expected to include a new round of direct aid to state and local governments, or the full $600 per week unemployment subsidy provided by that legislation. House leaders have made aid to local governments and unemployment subsidies major priorities for the next phase of aid.A payroll tax cut is also expected in the legislation despite initial resistance from both Democrats and Republicans. There has been little support in Congress for the idea, in large part because its impact would be blunted by the millions of unemployed U.S. workers no longer on payrolls. However, it has been a priority of the President for weeks.The Senate plan is to include some level of unemployment subsidy and to allow more flexibility for use of remaining state aid funds provided by the CARES Act. The proposal is not expected to include additional appropriations in an effort to keep the total cost below $1 trillion. 

Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 48,721
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 7/17): 4.7% (steady last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: almost 4M
Confirmed cases globally: over 15.3M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 4,818 (representing 9.9% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 282 (up from 247 on 7/20)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 40,742
#s tested: 905,315
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,561 (1,198/76.7% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: over 143.7K
Total deaths globally: over 625K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 15,537 (804 deaths)
Ramsey County: 5,985 (253 deaths)
Dakota County: 3,263 (101 deaths)
Washington County: 1,572 (41 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