Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | May 26, 2020
Today the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published the results of the latest economic survey. Businesses treading water amid unprecedented conditions .
Results from a recent Minneapolis Fed survey of firms across the Ninth District suggest that this struggle might be likened to treading water in a flooded springtime river. Everybody in the water is affected. Some find comparative safety—albeit temporary and inconvenient, but less damaging—in the eddies and smaller pools created outside the main current.

This survey was a follow-up to  March  and  April   surveys gauging the pandemic’s effects. Many of the challenges identified previously persist: revenues are down steeply, workforces have been slashed, wages are being cut for many of those who remain employed, certain sectors are affected more deeply than others, and insolvency is a real risk for many firms . It is worth noting that several major state-level actions took place during or after the execution of this survey, including the expiration of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order, which allowed for the reopening of many businesses on May 18, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision on May 14 to overturn the state’s stay-at-home order, which effectively allowed many previously closed, non-essential businesses to reopen immediately. As such, any changes in overall sentiment or activity as a result of these post-survey policy changes are not reflected in this survey

Ron Wirtz , the Fed’s Outreach Director, will join me for a webinar on Thursday, May 28 , to talk about the results. Register here to join us .
Also worth special attention is an opinion piece in the Pioneer Press last Thursday, written by the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Senior Vice President of Community Impact (and SPACC Board member) Acooa Ellis : “Learning in – and from – a crisis.” A couple sentences that spoke powerfully to me, how we can take our current tragic circumstances and work now to reimagine a better future. “We know disparate education outcomes reflect systems that in many ways were not designed to meet the needs of today’s students. We also know tumultuous times can light a spark for innovation…This moment of disruption presents the charge to examine what could be, against the backdrop of what has been, on behalf of the workforce of the future. If when this crisis passes, we forget the empathy created by our shared experience and fall back into familiar patterns, the gap we collectively lament will widen. Intentional action is required to disrupt inequities and draw meaningful connections to opportunity… We are all well outside of our comfort zones — let’s use this time to ignite our imaginations, to reframe the narrative from crisis response to an invitation for long overdue innovation." 

SHOUT-OUTS, #BusinessDoingGood
  • We appreciate the shout-out provided by the MN Retailers Association for all the good our chambers of commerce are doing on behalf of business: “Local Chambers Of Commerce and Local Governments Are Saving Mainstreet--Responding To The Pandemic With Relief And Creativity.”

  • CONGRATULATIONS to Eric Strand, Drury Hotel’s COO (and Saint Paul Native)! This weekend he ran the 237-mile Katy Trail to raise money for hospitality workers. Instagram update: “@lead_feet has crossed the finish line in 3 days 14 hours +/- a few minutes. He traveled the 245.1 mile #katytrail from Clinton to Machens, and with your support raised over $36,000 for #helpinghospitality and #theaboveandbeyondfoundation.”  

Today’s Updates:
  • EO 20-60 allows for worship, weddings, and funerals – with restrictions
  • EO 20-61 extends the relief from regulations for motor carriers and drivers (related to EO 20-45)
  • EO 20-62 extends the relief from regulations for motor carriers and drivers (related to EO 20-24 and 20-44)
Governor’s Media Briefings
  • Tuesday: Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Malcolm
  • Doubling time of the virus, in terms of spread, continues to extend (which is a good thing). Now at 16 days to double, has extended over the last 2 weeks. A doubling time of 7 days or fewer is a mark of higher concern for MDH.
  • Free testing opened up at 6 National Guard Army stations over the weekend really helped.
  • National Guard provided close to 10K tests in those 6 sites, exceeding goals.
  • So far, most MN health plans have agreed to extend agreements they'd reached re waiving co-pays both for COVID-19 testing and associated hospitalizations. That extension is through September 30.
  • March, $200M fund created by legislature. $ is still available for another wave of funding.
  • MDH announcing today that they've announced grants to health care response organizations, incl primary care clinics and LTC care facilities to hospitals and first responders. 1/2 to this variety of organizations for additional staffing. 
  • Next largest share for supplies, including purchase of PPE. Also can use the $ to establish temp sites for testing or treatment services, expand beds for treatment, isolate, and support emergency transportation.
  • Application process is ongoing, and will remain open till all $ is awarded.
  • Saturday
  • As of this past weekend, Governor Walz announced that houses of worship can open at 25% occupancy, and includes weddings and funerals. 
  • Friday
  • Hosted by Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield, who announced some new testing sites around the state and fielded questions about the Governor’s response to certain religious leaders saying they would not abide by the Governor’s directive to remain closed for services. The Governor had a call this morning with religious leaders to discuss the matter, and he may release a statement about that this weekend or next week. In the meantime, President Trump announced he will override governors who don’t allow churches to open up. It is unclear if he has the authority to do so.
  • Regarding the uneven nature of the impact of COVID-19, it is making worse some longstanding health disparities in the state’s communities of color and indigenous population. The burden of the disease is not evenly distributed across our community.
  • Minnesota’s African American population represents around 6% of state’s total residents.
  • Previously reported that African Americans represented 14% of the state’s total cases.
  • Now that percentage has risen to 24%.
  • DEED is providing additional information today, including information on what can and cannot re-open on June 1st, and how to re-open safely:
  • With the Governor’s EO on re-opening businesses the Fire Marshal got a lot of questions on what it meant for small businesses. They made the attached four fact sheets to help answer the most common questions. I’m sending to you in the hopes they are helpful. 
  • Thursday: New on June 1: Stay Safe Plan which includes information about phase II and what’s planned for phases III and IV.
Other Updates:
  • Since last week’s executive order allowing restaurants to operate with outdoor seating, municipalities across the region are working on adjusting their regulations to assist. We're tracking those changes and will have a list to share later this week.

  • 5 Eyewitness News/ COVID crisis affecting tourism in Minnesota as summer kicks off. This past Saturday, Minnesota State Fair was cancelled for 2020. Other events drawing thousands of people to the Twin Cities have already been called off this summer, including the Basilica Block Party. The Twin Cities Pride Festival will be celebrated virtually. Mall of America, campgrounds and restaurant dining won't begin the process of re-opening for at least another week, on June 1.

  • Re-opening retail: what retailers need to know. The Minnesota Retailers Association worked with DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and a retail roundtable workgroup (representing retailers, chambers of commerce, associations, and other stakeholders) on re-open guidelines over the past few weeks.

  • Pioneer Press: City of Minneapolis face mask requirement goes into effect today. In order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, it will be mandatory in Minneapolis to wear masks or other cloth face coverings inside stores, hotels, recreation centers, the skyway system, and other government buildings. Businesses won’t be required to provide masks to customers or employees, though employers will be required to mandate the use of masks by their workers. Violations could be punished by fines of up to $1,000.

  • MPR: From camping to dining out: here’s how experts rate the risks of 14 summer activities. One big warning: Your personal risk depends on your age and health, the prevalence of the virus in your area and the precautions you take during any of these activities. Also, many areas continue to restrict the activities described here, so check your local laws. And there's no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what's safe will be up to individuals.

  • MPR: Poll: Most Minnesotans support stay-home measures, but state is divided. A majority of Minnesota voters support the restrictions on everyday life the state imposed to try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll. But a solid minority feels the state has gone too far. It found about 57 percent of voters feel the state’s COVID-19 response has been “about right,” with another 9 percent wishing the state had gone farther. About 32 percent of voters felt the state had “gone too far.” 

  • New York Times: Crime is down nationally. Should be no surprise…. In Chicago, arrests down by 73%. In Las Vegas, down 22%. That said, disturbing dynamic also noted, in that the most violent crimes are up in some areas – those looking for trouble are still finding it, and some are using purposefully trying to infect law enforcement officers with COVID-19. 
  • The Senate pushed any action on the Senate version of the HEROES Act to this week. No update today. Current version, as I understand it, does not include 501c6 organizations. We urge you to reach out to your Senators immediately to encourage them to add language that makes all nonprofits, including 501(c)(6) organizations, eligible for this critical financial relief.
  • Additionally, this week, the House of Representative is expected to consider the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). This bipartisan bill from Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Chip Roy (R-TX) modifies certain loan forgiveness requirements under the Paycheck Protection Program. For example, the bill eliminates the limitation on non-payroll expenses counting towards loan forgiveness and extends the 8-week window for eligible expenses. However, the bill does NOT address the existing restrictions affecting 501(c)(6) organizations and other nonprofits. We have reached out to the authors to ask them to include all non-profits. We have been told that it would be helpful if more members heard this request from their constituents. 
Therefore, we urge you to contact your Senate and House Members today and ask them to make all nonprofit organizations, including 501(c)(6) organizations, eligible for the PPP in these bills.
COVID-19 update as of 5/ 26 /2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 21,960
Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 5/26): close to 1.7M
Confirmed cases globally (as of 5/26): over 5.5M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 2,709 (representing 12.2% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 570
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 15,523
#s tested: 209,898
Total deaths in Minnesota : 899 (732/81.4% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S. (updated 5/26): over 98K
Total deaths globally (updated 5/26): almost 348K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 7,421 (549 deaths)
Ramsey County: 2,551 (98 deaths)
Dakota County: 1,164 (38 deaths)
Washington County: 553 (29 deaths)

SBA Info:

SBA Training This Week:

SBA MoneySmart Planning for a Healthy Business
Wednesday, May 27 | 1 PM | Register

SBA Funding Options Q&A for COVID-19 Related Economic Disruptions 
Thursday, May 28 | 9 AM | Register

SBA Money Smart Financial Management for Small Business Training
Thursday, May 28 | 1 PM |   Register

SBA MoneySmart Banking Services for Small Business
Friday, May 29 | 1 PM; | Register

  • Goff Public offers a communications playbook: No matter how you decide to pursue reopening, your audiences will be looking to you for transparent communication about these decisions. While communicating is more important than ever, this pandemic has turned our playbook on its head. As you begin communicating your reopening plans, here’s how they have reconsidered some new communications strategies for the COVID-19 era.

  • The U.S. Chamber published a new Paycheck Protection Program Guide to Forgiveness with an easy to understand explanation of what they need to do to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans. Click here to download the guide.

  • Minnesota Retailers Association has created a web page for retailers re-opening that walks you through requirements and best practices.
  • Innovative Office Solutions has developed a return to work program guide they are generous enough to share here. They include ideas, products, and preparedness plan. Direct questions can be directed to Karla Gunderson

  • If your small business is within ½ mile of Allianz Field, apply for a grant from the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative. This grant is specifically for small businesses within a half mile of Allianz Field with annual revenue below $3 million who are either a small business or nonprofit with a retail or service-based business model.

  • North Risk Partners is offering a guide and sample plan to help you build your action plan for bringing employees back to work.

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 well!

B Kyle
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce