Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | June 18, 2020
Looking at COVID-19 data tables today…. MDH Commissioner Malcolm has been talking about the decrease in numbers, so I wanted to take a look. The number of individuals in the hospital has dropped steadily since its high point in late May. As of June 18, 345 people are hospitalized. Also the number of individuals in the ICU, currently at 171, has decreased steadily since its highest number of 263 on May 30. 
The number of new cases per day is steadily decreasing as well, from what looks like a high point of 787 on May 26. There have been waves, but the general trend downward – despite the increasing number of tests per day – is very encouraging. That said, we are reminded to stay vigilant in terms of our safety measures and social distancing. Other states are seeing jumps in their numbers, and some are having to dial back their reopening strategies as a result.
Update came through just this morning, from DEED, regarding the $62.5M Small Business Emergency Grant funding signed into law by the Governor earlier this week. The application window will open up early next week, the window will be open for just 10 days, and applicants for the $10K grant will be selected by lottery. Nonprofits are not eligible. Stand by for more guidance on DEED website, should come out later today or Friday. I will send out to membership a s soon as the guidance and application are made available.
SHOUT-OUTS, #BusinessDoingGood
  • Beginning July 5, Target will permanently raise their starting wage to $15 per hour. With yesterday’s announcement, Target will invest nearly $1 billion more this year in the well-being, health, and safety of team members than it did in 2019. For more information, please take a look at this fact sheet. Other changes include:
  • A one-time recognition bonus of $200 for frontline store and distribution center hourly workers for their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Free access to health care through virtual doctor visits, regardless of whether team members currently subscribe to a Target health care plan.
  • Extension of benefits introduced due to COVID-19, including: vulnerable paid leave for team members who are 65 or older, pregnant or those with underlying medical conditions per the CDC; free backup day care for all U.S. team members through the end of August; continued waiver of our absenteeism policy; and, paid leave options for team members who are symptomatic, have a confirmed case of coronavirus, or have been quarantined due to exposure.
Wednesday’s Briefing, 2:00pm: MDH Commissioner Malcolm, Director Kris Ehresmann
  • Moving forward, these updates will be M-W-F
  • Commissioner Malcolm
  • Noted continuing spikes in disease numbers in states like AZ, FL, and NM. 
  • Also noted a slight spike in MN numbers due to higher numbers of sick people in Mower County, in SE MN. The spike there is attributed to community activity as well as some larger employers with employees in close working conditions.

Special Session
  • Legislature, Walz approve $62.5M for small businesses affected by Covid From Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, June 17: The bill, which received bipartisan support, authorizes the release of $60 million from the federal CARES Act, as well as $2.5 million from the Department of Employment and Economic Development's (DEED) emergency loan program. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be able to sign up for grants of up to $10,000. Half of the money will go to businesses outside of the Twin Cities; at least $10 million will go to businesses owned by racial minorities; and at least $2.5 million will go to veteran-owned businesses and women-owned businesses each.

  • A month after regular session concluded, Minn. Legislature has yet to agree to bonding bill From West Central Tribune, June 16: The Senate has vowed to adjourn this month's special session by a self-imposed deadline of Friday, June 19. As of Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House have yet to come to an agreement on a dollar amount for the bonding bill, by which the state loans money to fund capital infrastructure projects.

  • Still unsure if things are moving forward or backward as significant disagreements continue between the House, Senate and Governor on the major items: police reform, a bonding bill, a tax bill, a supplemental budget, and COVID-related relief. There is virtually no public discussion happening on a bonding or tax bill, and the plan for concluding this special session remains uncertain. It is possible the bodies could adjourn this week without completing the items listed above. If the Governor intends to extend his Peacetime Emergency beyond mid-July, he will need to call the Legislature back the week of July 6th to do so. Presumably, the unfinished business could be completed then, if they manage to reach compromise.

  • The Senate met until almost 2:00 am this morning on five smaller police reform bills. Republicans are presenting the measures as significant reform and Democrats argued the bills are insufficient in light of the 20+ proposals that have been put forward by the House. Senate members of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus led the opposition, noting they were not consulted by their Republican colleagues on proposed solutions. The debate was highly charged and emotional, and lasted for hours. The Senate now appears to be taking a break of sorts, with no hearings or floor session held today and nothing scheduled for tomorrow. Senators will reconvene Friday at 10am, which is the day Majority Leader Gazelka pinned for adjournment.

  • In the House, many bills are moving through the committee process. Police reform, a COVID-related relief bill, and a supplemental budget bill continue to dominate the discussion. The House Ways and Means Committee is meeting this evening to process a number of police reform and other bills, and will meet again tomorrow at 8am to take up the COVID-relief spending bill. While there had been agreement between the four legislative caucuses on the COVID bill as a stand-alone item, it appears that agreement has now gone by the wayside. It is expected that amendments will be offered tomorrow in Ways and Means to add additional non-COVID items to the bill.
  • The House continued hearings on police reform legislation and on rebuilding efforts for Minneapolis and St. Paul, with several hearings throughout the day going well into the evening. Likewise, the Senate continued to meet into the evening after a long day of floor debate on police reform bills and a COVID funding bill. The differences in approach to police reform in the two bodies is stark. In the House, over 20 proposals have been introduced and are making their way through the process. In the Senate, there are just five proposals that are moving.

  • The Governor held a press availability Tuesday afternoon to continue to push his top two topics for the special session – economic development (including a bonding bill) and police reform and accountability. On the bonding bill, the Governor reiterated his proposal is $2.6B for infrastructure projects around the state. The Senate released its $1.2B bill on Monday. The Governor was joined by the Mayor of Red Wing and an IBEW electrician, both of whom talked about the importance of local projects and the jobs that would be created by a larger bonding bill. MMB Commissioner Myron Frans also spoke, saying the markets have stabilized and that there has never a better time to sell bonds and use the proceeds to fund these projects.
  • On police reform and accountability, the Governor said he supports the 20+ proposals being advanced in the House, and is disappointed the Senate isn’t willing to take up more of those ideas. He encouraged them to reconsider and hear them.
  • Late Tuesday afternoon, the legislative leaders and the Governor met in private to discuss the various differences between them on the outstanding issues. It is unclear whether much progress was made, and the situation remains very fluid. The House has several hearings scheduled for Wednesday, but the Senate has none scheduled as of 8:00pm Tuesday evening.
  • The Minnesota Senate recently passed a bill which provides guidance to counties on the use of federal funds – which a portion must be used to support local businesses. Watch for the House to pass a similar bill later this week. We will send you final details so that you can encourage your counties to move the money quickly into the hands of business owners. More to come. 

  • Although the House and Senate met, it was actually a somewhat quiet day compared to what is expected for the balance of the week. The Senate appears to be moving towards a Friday adjournment of the special session, but it is unclear what the House intends to do.
  • The House met in floor session briefly, and then held additional hearings on police reform and other measures.
  • In the Senate, members processed five smaller bills before adjourning so that the Senate Finance Committee could hear a significant COVID-19 funding bill. The bill appropriates over $800M in federal funds to cities and counties across Minnesota for COVID-19 related efforts. In addition, the Senate Republicans released their bonding proposal, which totals $1.127B in general obligation bonds. The spreadsheet can be found here. The House may release a revised proposal in the next few days.
Other Updates:
  • City of Saint Paul/Ramsey County is organizing two virtual town halls for business representatives, community organizations, property owners and residents to participate and share input/feedback on how government can best help communities rebuild following the response to George Floyd's death. They specifically want to hear from residents, businesses, community organizations and property owners who experienced property damage. This conversation is hosted by Ramsey County’s Racial Equity and Community Engagement Response Team in partnership with the City of Saint Paul. See the details below.

  • No, warmer summer weather isn’t stopping coronavirus spread From The St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 17: While most virologists and epidemiologists have long hypothesized that summer should at least subdue the worst of COVID-19’s transmissibility, recent case spikes in places like Arizona, Florida and Texas are making it clear that the warmer summer season itself will not eliminate the virus or even pause its spread.

  • Exclusive survey: Twin Cities business leaders want gradual re-opening of the economy From The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, June 17: Over three-quarters of business leaders in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area want to see an eased-in approach to reopening the economy, Business Journal research found. Of the 232 business leaders in the metro area who responded to the survey, about 77% said they would prefer the economy to open in phases with certain businesses being able to open before others – a percent slightly below the national average of 79%, but higher than that of the nearby Milwaukee area with 73%.

  • Minnesota adds about 600 PPP loans in past week. From The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, June 17: The U.S. Small Business Administration reported 627 new Payroll Protection Program loans to Minnesota-based businesses and nonprofits for the week ending June 12. Overall, demand for PPP loans has been slowing, but the SBA expects that to pick up since the federal government approved changes that loosen restrictions on the program. New changes here.  

  • COVID-19: Europe vs. the U.S. From The New York Times, June 17: The coronavirus began to ravage Europe weeks before the United States. At the peak, in early April, more than 3,000 people in Italy, Spain and the rest of Western Europe were dying each day — a substantially higher toll than in the U.S. Over the past two months, however, Europe has succeeded at crushing the virus, and the U.S. has not.

  • On Tuesday, Arizona, Florida and Texas all reported their largest one-day increases in new cases. The combined death count in those 16 European countries (about 121,000) remains higher than in the U.S. (about 117,000). But at the current pace, the U.S. toll will be higher by next week.
  • A Breakthrough in Treatment From The New York Times, June 17: Scientists at the University of Oxford said they had identified the first drug shown to reduce coronavirus-related deaths: a steroid called dexamethasone. It reduced the death rate of patients on ventilators by a third and patients on oxygen by a fifth. The drug has been around for decades and is already stocked in many pharmacies. Experts believe it may work by calming an overactive immune response known as a cytokine storm, which can overwhelm the body.

  • June 16 update on COVID-19 in MN: Hospitalizations, ICU Cases Stable From MPR, June 16: Total deaths in the pandemic climbed to 1,313. Tuesday, however, marked the first time since mid-April that the department reported two consecutive days where deaths stayed in the single digits. Intensive care cases — a closely watched measure of how Minnesota is handling the spread — are at their lowest in more than a month. Click here to learn more.
  • SBA Releases First Conforming Guidance for PPP Flexibility Act From CliftonLarsonAllen, June 16: 
  • Key insights
  • The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was signed into law by the President on June 5, 2020.
  • Guidance issued by the SBA on June 10 clarified key provisions of the PPP Flexibility Act that were ambiguous.
  • As of June 12, 2020, $129 billion in PPP funds remain available.
  • The SBA and Treasury have stated that guidance in the form of a new loan application, new loan forgiveness applications, new IFRs, and new FAQs will be forthcoming.
  • You may want to consider waiting to submit your forgiveness package.

  • U.S. Chamber’s Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. This guide reflects recent substantive changes made by Congress and the administration to the PPP program to provide borrowers with more flexibility. These changes include:
  • Extending the time to spend PPP funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks;
  • Lowering the amount that must be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%;
  • Extending the deadline to restore FTEs and payroll from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020; and
  • Setting the repayment term for loans made after June 4, 2020 at five years.

  • Costs of COVID-19 downturn are uneven for Minnesota's public companies. From Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 15: Companies such as Ecolab and General Mills mobilized quickly to get their cleaning and sanitation products out to businesses and packaged foods to a sudden surge of home cooks. Best Buy and Target moved quickly to lean more heavily on their e-commerce and remote pickup options.
  • MN Legislature nears agreement for COVID-19 aid to cities, counties From MPR, June 15: Lawmakers are preparing to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to Minnesota cities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is Minnesota's share of $150 billion distributed to state and local governments under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. About $316 million went directly to the state's two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, under the terms of the federal law. Now the state gets to distribute $841 million more to smaller local governments.

  • CALLING ALL RESIDENTS OF RAMSEY COUNTY: Help Shape Ramsey County's Future Economic Development. What would Ramsey County look like if economic development was truly inclusive and equitable? What ideas do you have to make our county a better place to live, work, play, and visit? Take the Survey and REGISTER | COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FORUMS, JUNE 22-25, 2020
  • June 22 Register
  • June 23 Register
  • June 24 Register
  • June 25 Register
  • Let's Save Small Businesses! Business4Business MSP Regional Coalition: MSP Counties and Private Sector Leaders Unite to Support Small Businesses recovering from COVID-19 pandemic A broad alliance of Twin Cities counties, chambers of commerce, community development agencies and other partners are building a local support network to help small businesses survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges facing our small business community. The Business4Business Minneapolis-Saint Paul (B4B MSP) coalition will connect small businesses with local resources from public agencies and private sector partners, including technical and financial assistance to provide immediate relief. Learn more about B4B MSP and how to support small businesses in our region
  COVID-19 update as of 6/18/2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 31,675
Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 6/18): almost $2.2M
Confirmed cases globally (as of 6/18): almost 8.4M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 3,718 (representing 11.7% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 345 (down from 353 on 6/15)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 27,566
#s tested: 460,879
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,344 (1,064/79.2% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S. (updated 6/18): almost 118K
Total deaths globally (updated 6/18): over 450K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 10,512 (732 deaths)
Ramsey County: 4,128 (205 deaths)
Dakota County: 1,805 (76 deaths)
Washington County: 833 (37 deaths) 
  • See available SBA COVID-19 training here.
  • Minnesota Chamber lists several assistance options available for small businesses to combat COVID-19-related challenges. The federal and state governments have passed legislation meant to speed capital to businesses, so they can make payroll and other financial obligations. The Chamber has a detailed summary of available resources in the funding section of the COVID-19 Business Toolkit.

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 Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce