Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | September 21, 2020
Last week we hosted our Leaders in Local Government Awards and honored public servants in Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington counties. I’ve been thinking all weekend about how fortunate we are for the public servants – including our elected – who have become front line emergency response these last eight months.
 
Throughout the weekend I also found myself listening to people’s stories of their experience with crime these last 8 months – theft, robberies, assaults – with no resolution. The need to prioritize public safety can’t be overstated. I am deeply concerned and I know others are as well. Protecting public safety is crucial to building strong, safe communities and creating an economy that recovers and works for our residents and our employees.
 
This upcoming week we are hoping for a Saint Paul City Council vote in support of the establishment of a downtown improvement district. The first priority of the district is establishing a Fusion Center, to coordinate security within the downtown buildings. We are grateful for the hard work done by the St. Paul Downtown Alliance, the business community, and the City of Saint Paul, over the last several years in establishing this district. As the Star Tribune reported last week, the district has received a strong show of support. Years of work from countless downtown stakeholders have brought us here.
 
BUSINESS ASSISTANCE FUNDS
 
The application for We  St. Paul/Midway fund remains live. Please apply, and share with any businesses you know were impacted by the civil unrest: See application here.
 
Neighbors United Funding Collaborative now taking applications. The NUFC fund is now taking applications for grants up to $15,000. Applications will be accepted until December 20 or until the funds are exhausted. Learn more.

BizRecycling Relief GrantsAny business that has been negatively impacted by the social unrest or COVID-19 is eligible for funding that can cover various items. The grant application process is extremely easy and can be completed online. If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to reach out to Jon Klapperich.
 
Inver grove Heights Non-Profit Program: grants up to $20K, applications due September 30.  
 

 

#BusinessDoingGood
  • Comcast is proud to announce one of the first WiFi-connected Lift Zones in the country is here in the Twin Cities Region!

  • In partnership with The Sanneh Foundation, this Lift Zone has the capacity to serve 140 students per day. The gymnasium at the Conway Community Center in Saint Paul has been reconfigured to provide students with socially distanced access to educational technology as well as tutoring support. Lift Zones is a multiyear effort to provide robust WiFi hotspots in safe spaces to enable students, families and community members to get online and participate in distance learning, job opportunities and digital skills training. More than 1,000 WiFi-connected Lift Zones will be launching nationwide, with more than 20 Twin Cities sites before the end of this year. One upcoming location will be the Halle Q. Brown Community Center in Saint Paul.
 
#BacktoBusiness
  • Thursday nights, Mears Park’s Lowertown Locals continue!  Many more opportunities exist in the days ahead for folks to come downtown and enjoy the things that make this a special place. The Ordway has aLoading Dockseries starting tonight, Big River Pizza will host their final concert event of the season, Pillbox continues to host music, the Lowertown Art Market continues this Sunday at CHS Plaza and we’ll have music in Mears next Thursday and Pedro next Friday.
 
  • Damaged Lake Street Target store set to reopen in November From MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE: The Lake Street Target store that was heavily damaged in riots following the death of George Floyd will reopen in mid-November. The Minneapolis retailer said it will be one of the fastest rebuilds of a Target store ever.

  • RiverCentre is reopening – carefully! They look forward to their first “open to the public” event at the end of this month, the Twin Cities Bridal Show. 
  
 
UPDATES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
Monday, September 21, Commissioner Malcolm
  • 7-day positivity rate, as of 9/12, is now at 4.4%, another drop from earlier this week.
  • Median age steady at 35 yo.
  • The testing volume this last week was up 6.1%, while positive cases increased at 7.1%, so that gap between testing volume and positive cases has flipped. This is not a good sign. That said, hospitalization rate is still stable at 255 patients.
  • Big news today: as of Wed, Sep 23, MN will have its first semi-permanent site for COVID saliva testing.  
  • First site will be at the Duluth Entertainment Center, "The Deck."
  • This will be the first of 10 across the state, open to all who believe they need a COVID test. Testing is free and not required to have an ID or insurance, whether or not you are symptomatic.
  • Processed in NJ lab till Minnesota's new lab is operational in mid-October.
  • Results available 24-48 hours of reaching the lab.
  • Wed-Fri, noon-7pm. Sat and Sun 10am-4pm.
  • Open to walk-ins, but requested you register in advance.
  • Innovation with Vault Health. They will run the Duluth site. Ww Mayo, UofM, other health systems. Need to diversify our testing capacity.
  • Our lab will be in Oakdale, and is in development now. Hiring is underway, 250 new jobs. Up to 30K samples/day.

IN THE NEWS

  • Mayo Clinic says Covid-19 predicting tool can tell where pandemic's going next From the Business Journal, Sep 21: Mayo officials, who have been using the product ahead of a soft launch, said that the software correctly predicted surges near the clinic's campuses in Florida and Arizona. That enabled the health system to prepare its hospitals for an increase in patients. The dashboard is online already, though it only includes current data at the moment. Forecasts are expected to be added soon.

  • Stratasys founder Scott Crump, approaching retirement, reflects on career  From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Sep 18: Stratasys Ltd. co-founder Scott Crump plans to retire from the 3D printing company by the end of 2020. He co-founded Stratasys with his wife, Lisa, in the garage of their Eden Prairie home in 1989. Stratasys went public on the Nasdaq in 1994. In 2019, it had revenue of $636 million and is now dual-headquartered in Eden Prairie and Rehovot, Israel.
 
  • Real World Economic: Presidents have much less power over economy than people think From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sep 20: Contrary to what millions of us think, and what politicians would like us to think, U.S. presidents have little influence over our economy and very little direct control. Yet the assumption is that, as the chief justice takes the Bible back from under the hand of a new president, this new chief executive magically gains enormous power, lasting until someone else takes the oath four or eight years later. Philosophers view this false assumption as “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” — the error of assuming that because one thing preceded another, the first caused the second.
 
  • How to even financing odds for omen- and minority-owned companies From the Star Tribune, Sep 20: As Congress deliberates the next round of COVID-19 aid, many businesses are still grappling with the shock and struggles they faced when they first sought help through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In many cases, funds dried up before those in need were able to access them. Why? PPP, in many cases, was a timely example of the challenges women- and minority-owned business have long known: Our economic system is unjust, and access to capital is not equal. Access to capital — one of the most proven ingredients for economic strength — is disproportionately unequal for small businesses owned by women, people of color and new proprietors.
 
  • Working Strategies: The pandemic’s impacts on workers and workplace From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sep 19: For anyone who’s ever wanted to be a pioneer, this pandemic era of working should fill the bill nicely. Although there have been pandemics before, today’s employers and workforce are covering plenty of new ground. Here are some ways COVID-19 has changed the workplace for the time being — and possibly for the long term as well.
 
  • Gov. Tim Walz lays out benchmarks for ending COVID-19 emergency in Minnesota From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sep 18: Gov. Tim Walz for one of the first times Thursday suggested benchmarks for ending Minnesota's peacetime emergency and the business and social restrictions to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. Six months after issuing the emergency order, Walz said he is looking for declines in both the positivity rate of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and the rate of infections that can't be traced to community sources.

  • Redefining Leadership 2020: Leading Through Uncertainty From Twin Cities Business, Sep 17: In a TCB Talks virtual panel discussion on Wednesday, Marvin joined Delta Dental of Minnesota CEO Rodney Young and Pentair Executive VP and Chief Human Resources Officer Kelly Baker to discuss how their organizations are approaching a wide range of critical issues, from employee mental health to diversity and inclusion to the role of business in addressing social issues.
 
  • We’ll meet again, but when? From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Sep 17: More than 600 events in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington have been canceled in 2020, and that only includes the ones booked by those cities’ convention and visitors bureaus. Countless more weddings, corporate gatherings, tournaments and festivals also have been called off. The pain of losing so many visitors is widespread. Twin Cities hotel occupancies have fallen to the depressingly low rate of 15% to 37% since the pandemic arrived. Many downtown restaurants haven't re-opened while others have called it quits for good. And the people who sell and market the Twin Cities as a destination have lost their jobs. 
 
  • Extra $300 unemployment benefits end after 6 weeks; Minnesota jobless rate falls to 7.4 percent From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sep 17: As Minnesota’s economic rebound continues amid the coronavirus pandemic, state leaders announced the end to the extra $300 in unemployment benefits. Minnesota employers added 40,500 jobs in August, lowering the state’s unemployment rate to 7.4 percent — from 7.7 the month before. The seasonally adjusted rate has declined from a record high of 9.9 percent in May, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday. The national unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in August.
 
  • With restaurants teetering, trade group urges Walz to dial back capacity restrictions From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Busines Journal, Sep 17: A trade association representing Minnesota restaurants warns 40% of its member businesses could close by the end of the year if the state doesn’t dial back seating and capacity restrictions before winter’s arrival. “These businesses are truly hanging on the brink of collapse. That is not hyperbole, that is true,” said Liz Rammer, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota. “They’re running out of money and out of time.”
 
  • No Barriers Testing Introduced From KSTP, Sep 17: In an effort to catch cases early and prevent further spread, a "no barriers" testing initiative was announced today by state health officials. The Minnesota Department of Health will test over the next four week, holding three to six events per week. Click here to learn more KSTP.
 

  • Mayors vow to launch guaranteed income programs across the U.S. From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sep 16: SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A growing number of mayors across the country support giving cash to low-income families with no restrictions on how they can spend it — part of a growing movement to establish a guaranteed minimum income to combat poverty and systemic racism. Mayors in at least 25 cities — from Los Angeles to Paterson, New Jersey — have pledged to support such programs as part of the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. They are led by Michael Tubbs, the 30-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, who launched one of the country’s first guaranteed income programs last year with the help of private donations from Silicon Valley. The idea of guaranteed income programs has been around for decades, but it got a lot of attention in the U.S. as the centerpiece of Andrew Yang’s failed bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Dakota County waives penalty for late property tax payment From Dakota County, Sep 15: Dakota County is waiving a penalty for some property tax payments due Oct. 15. Recognizing that property owners may be impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 15 approved a property tax penalty abatement for the second half of 2020 property taxes. The penalty for late payment is waived through Monday, Nov. 1
 
In The Legislature
  • Discussions are underway to bring the Legislature back early this week – today? - to pass the tax bill and the bonding bill. 
 
COVID-19 update as of 9/21/2020
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 90,942
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 9/12): 4.4% (down from 4.8% last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: over 6.8M
Confirmed cases globally: over 31.1M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 7,199 (representing 7.9% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 255 (up from 242 on 9/18)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 82,174 (90.4%)
#s tested: 1,855,308
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,969 (1,425/72.4% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: over 199.5K
Total deaths globally: over 961.5K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 26,054 (922 deaths)
Ramsey County: 10,572 (318 deaths)
Dakota County: 7,216 (125 deaths)
Washington County: 3,610 (55 deaths)

 
Resources
  • See available SBA COVID-19 training here.
 


  • Mask distribution: still need masks? Contact a chamber near you; most of us have a limited number still available. Coordination for on-site pick-up at SPACC is through staci@saintpaulchamber.com.
 
Be safe and be well,

B

B Kyle
President/CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce