Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | May 18, 2020
I was accompanied by many more cars this morning, as I drove in to work. So very glad for the company! 

My plan for today had been to review McKinsey’s suggested five horizons that every executive should use to ensure an organization’s rapid response, adaptation to change, and reemergence in a position of strength. That will have to wait till Thursday.

Immediately before us is the reality of a legislative session that ended before their work was done. No bills were passed related to bonding, taxes, the Governor’s emergency powers, or state employee contracts. What?

We’re facing an environment in which economic activity in some sectors has virtually stopped. McKinsey & Company is now estimating that 40-50% of discretionary consumer spending (remember, this drives our overall GDP) may not occur. This alone would translate to a roughly 10% reduction in GDP. And the longer a lockdown is in place, the worse the impact. This is straight from McKinsey: “with 25% of US households living from paycheck to paycheck, and 40% of Americans unable to cover an unexpected expense of $400 without borrowing, the impact of extended lockdowns for many, many people will be nothing short of catastrophic.”

Minnesota’s leadership is providing a strong public health response. We all are charged with the responsibility for the strongest supporting public policy response possible. And I would propose that a session ending as it did this year reflects ineffective public policy.

The economy needs a cash infusion. From the Chamber’s perspective the two most critical outstanding issues are the strongest bonding bill possible, and liability protections for business. We encourage the House and Senate leadership to get to a compromise in these areas during the anticipated special session.

Together we can ensure a delayed but full economic recovery. Absent strong policy support, self-reinforcing recession dynamics kick in, prolonging the downturn without economic recovery.

Tick tock. Two more restaurants just closed permanently.

A Call for Support: We need your support to encourage the Senate to approve the HEROES Act. On Friday, the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion follow-on relief package, passed in the House. Among other things, the bill expands eligibility of PPP to include all nonprofits (including 501c6), dedicates funding to micro and minority-owned businesses, and provides more assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. We anticipate real opposition from some in the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here. A one pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here. Reach out to Senator Tina Smith and Senator Amy Klobuchar to indicate your support of the HEROES Act.

SHOUT-OUTS, #BusinessDoingGood
  • Pay It Forward -Economic First Responders. Do you have expertise that you’re willing to share with another small business? Volunteer and Pay It Forward! for details, see below for “At the County and City” to learn about our Pay It Forward program.
  • Portico Healthnet offers free health insurance enrollment assistance through MNsure for Minnesotans who have been furloughed, laid-off, or have had changes in income. There may be low or no cost health insurance options for people who no longer have employer-sponsored insurance. Call Portico at 651-489-2273 to learn about your options.

Today’s Updates:
  • EO 20-57 addresses summer learning for students
  • EO 20-58 authorizes the PUC to hold remote meetings
  • EO 20-59 extends the relief from regulations for motor carriers and drivers (related to EO 20-06 and 20-37)

Governor’s Media Briefings:
  • Today we move from “Stay At Home” to “Stay Safe Minnesota." Continued reminder that social distancing guidelines remain in place.
  • On Friday:
  • Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann were joined by Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the Minnesota State Epidemiologist.
  • Dr. Lynfield shared that a “Health Alert” advisory message was sent to all Minnesota health care providers today, asking them to report cases of a “multisystem inflammatory syndrome” in children that is believed to be connected to COVID-19. The state of New York and some countries in Europe have reported increasing numbers of children presenting with this syndrome, and MDH wants to collect information regarding any potential cases in Minnesota.
  • All flags will be flown at half-mast on May 19, 2020, and on the 19 of each month this year, to commemorate the lives lost to COVID-19.
  • Announced that over 5,890 lab tests were processed in Minnesota on Thursday, second highest one-day total since testing began.
  • Encouraged all Minnesotans who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms to get tested; self-isolate if you are ill.

Other Updates:
  • Malls
  • Opening today: Burnsville Center, Rosedale
  • Postponing
  • Mall of America - reopening on June 1
  • Maplewood Mall - not yet announced
  • Twin Cities Premium Outlets, Eagan – not yet announced
  •  Some businesses across the state are choosing to open in advance of guidance from the state. It looks like the Attorney General’s office will be enforcing the guidance with fines and a lawsuit.
  • MNGOP’s state convention was halted due to potentially malicious interference with the servers used for voting. They will be rescheduling the convention.
  • The Minnesota DFL state convention is scheduled for May 30-31, and will be virtual.
  • National conventions: The Democratic National Convention, originally scheduled to take place in Milwaukee mid-July, has been postponed until August. The GOP’s national convention is currently scheduled to be held in Charlotte beginning Aug. 24.
  • On May 7, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) filed its final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2021. This final rule describes benefit and payment parameters under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that apply for the 2021 benefit year. 
  • Nationally, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits since March now exceeds 36 million. In Minnesota, that number exceeds 600,000.

Federal Updates:
  •  $500 billion fund is proposed to aid state and local governments:
  • In the Senate: a bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce legislation today that would establish a $500 billion fund for state and local governments. The money would be divided into three tranches, distributed according to population size, infection rates, and revenue losses, and the bill does not have a population requirement, meaning municipalities of any size can use the money it makes available. All states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, would receive a minimum of $2 billion.
  • In the House, a companion bill has been introduced by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and Peter King (R-NY-02) along with a group of bipartisan co-sponsors.

  • Minnesota Delegation Updates from Lockridge Grindal Nauen
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and a number of her colleagues introduced legislation, the Work Opportunities and Resources to Keep Nonprofit Organizations Well (WORK NOW) Act, to help nonprofit organizations meet an increase in demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic while helping newly unemployed Americans get back to work. Read more here.
  • Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) announced that the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration have heeded their bipartisan call to make rural electric cooperatives with fewer than 500 employees eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Read more here.
  • Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN-01) provided an update on his ongoing cancer treatment, saying that his response to treatment is going “exceedingly well” and that he is “feeling great and working hard.” Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-MN-02) announced that the House-passed HEROES Act incorporates her All Dependent Children Count Act which would expand the definition of an eligible dependent under the CARES Act to those younger than 19, students below age 24 and adult dependents. Read more here.
  • Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) secured from House leadership a commitment for a vote on the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, a bill he is leading with Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21) that would make revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) released a statement describing the need for additional funds to be allocated to Native American communities in upcoming relief legislation. Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led more than 300 lawmakers from two dozen countries in a letter to the leadership of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, calling on them to cancel low-income countries’ debt and provide a major infusion of financial support in response to the pandemic. Read more here.
  • Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) signed on as an original cosponsor of the Deal with the Debt Today Act, legislation that would require emergency or disaster spending to be offset over a ten year period. Read more here.
  • Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN-07) released a statement explaining his vote in favor of the HEROES Act, saying that despite “serious concerns with some of the provisions” the bill would provide “much-needed support” for agricultural producers and local governments. Read more here.
  • Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) hosted a public conference call to hear from Minnesotans concerned about the impact that Governor Walz’s Stay at Home Executive Order has on their outdoor recreation traditions, livelihoods, and Northern Minnesota’s economy. Read more here.

County and City Updates
  • Pay It Forward - Economic First Responders. St. Paul, in partnership with Ramsey County, SCORE-St. Paul, SPACC, and a variety of TA agencies, are offering a program that provides greater technical assistance and mentoring opportunities to our small businesses. Businesses are sifting through the tax implications of many COVID federal resources, weighing the costs of staying open or closing, and needing additional financial support. This is a great program for individuals who have expertise in various business assistance areas to become a Pay It Forward volunteer as well as for our business community who is in need of additional support. All Ramsey County businesses are eligible for this program. Information about the program can be found here.
  • Ramsey County Small Business Relief and Reopening Assistance. In its use of direct appropriation of Treasury funds, Ramsey County is prioritizing grants for small businesses, specifically Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) that are the most vulnerable to economic distress. May 27 is the target date for applications to be available on their website. The first round of funding will push out $5 million in $7,500 grants.
  • Ramsey, Hennepin, Washington, Anoka, and Carver counties Business4Business. Together with GreaterMSP and area chambers, the counties are engaging in conversations with our businesses to hear how we might come together to support small businesses with additional relief assistance, donations of technical assistance hours, or through other creative support. Our counties plan to support this initiative through Board actions the week of May 27. Stay tuned for more details on this!

  • CEDS Plan & EDA Funding. Many of you are aware that applications are now open to access federal EDA funding. GreaterMSP has been working with the chambers, counties, and the Metropolitan Council to approve a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to tie to funding requests. We see the value in strategizing funding requests as a region. If you have ideas for these funds please let me know.

COVID-19 update as of 5/14/2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 16,372
Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 5/14): over 1.4M
Confirmed cases globally (as of 5/14): over 4.4M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 2,128 (representing 13%)
#s currently hospitalized: 488 (down from 498 last Thursday)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 10,764
#s tested: 156,606
Total deaths in Minnesota: 731 (595 cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S. (updated 5/14): almost 85,000
Total deaths globally (updated 5/14): over 4.4M
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 5,409 (467 deaths)
Ramsey County: 1,625 (72 deaths)
Dakota County: 802 (23 deaths)
Washington County: 378 (19 deaths)

SBA Info:

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 well!


B Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce