Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | September 3, 2020
What a glorious week! Does anyone else feel energized by the fresh breeze? We’ll need it because… school starts next week. Encourage your team members who are parents. Doing double duty promises to be challenging for all of us this Fall. The convergence of personal and professional… it’s real! Because a little levity is always welcome, I had to share a few tweets that may hit home: 
The Saint Paul Restaurant Resiliency Project needs more feedback from the restaurant community to shape tools and resources for the coming winter. Please take this 5-min survey before it closes tomorrow Friday, September 4 so local restaurants can thrive year round! Restaurants who participate are also eligible for free one-on-one digital and business operations consultancy. The Saint Paul Restaurant Resiliency Project is a partnership between the City of Saint Paul and NCXT
 
I also want to share a special invitation. SPACC supports a Business Owners Roundtable for small business owners. Looking for support, encouragement, or helpful advice from other business owners? Please reach out to Steve Coleman of the Platinum Group, who leads the group. 
 
Have a great weekend, everyone. Maybe I’ll see you at the Science Museum which opens tomorrow! I’ll be bringing the boys!

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.

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.

LISC Small Business Relief Grants for small businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19. The Round 6 application period is open now. Click here to apply. Your application must be submitted by Monday, September 7th, 11:59 p.m. ET. 

 

#BusinessDoingGood
  • Shout-out to businesses in the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce! The Chamber organized a day during which their members donated. Special thank-yous to HSW of Hudson, LLC, Seasons on St. Croix Gallery, The Purple Tree, Inc., and La Rue Marche, The Bees Knees. St. Paul and the Midway area specifically thank you!

  • Red Wing Shoes is promoting jobs, not deals on Labor Day From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, September 1: Red Wing Shoe Co. Inc. is using Labor Day to help 25 million unemployed Americans find jobs through an initiative called #LaborDayOn. In a press release issued Tuesday, the 115-year-old boot manufacturer said a day dedicated to the economic achievements of American workers will be foreshadowed by one of the highest unemployment rates in over 100 years. "Inspired by this current crisis, Red Wing is turning a holiday that’s become synonymous with discounts, sales and doorbuster deals back into a day for the American worker."
 
#BackToBusiness
  • Back by popular demand is the Saints’ Friday Night Films & Fireworks.    Buy Tickets

  • Your Saints are just 2.5 games out of a playoff spot and the final 9 games of the season will be here at CHS Field! Irish Night, Dog Day, Astro the Grouch….which days will you get to experience?
 
  • Surly’s Beer Hall to close indefinitely Nov. 2 From the St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 2: We knew going into the pandemic that many, many restaurants would not make it through the financial hardships of takeout only or reduced capacities. But this is a big one. Surly’s Beer Hall, the giant restaurant that makes the brewery a “destination,” will close Nov. 2. 

  • UnitedHealthcare announces cohort for 2020 Techstars accelerator From The Business Journals, September 1: UnitedHealthcare has announced the second class of its health care startup accelerator, which it runs with Techstars. The accelerator began on Monday, and runs into December. The UnitedHealthcare Accelerator Powered by Techstars is hosting 10 companies, each of which will move to Minnesota for the next three months. Member companies will have access to mentorship from UnitedHealth, Techstars, and other mentors pulled from the local tech and health care communities.


  • Changing your flight plans? No charge, the big airlines now say From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 1: Delta, the dominant carrier at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, is immediately — and permanently — eliminating change fees for all standard airfare on flights within the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

 
UPDATES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
Wednesday, September 2, Commissioner Malcolm
  • Median age remains 36.0 yo.
  • 7-day average positivity rate is 5.2%, just up from 4.9% last week. This represents data through August 23.
  • Daily new cases per 100,000 residents is at 11, down from the high of 13 on May 24.
  • 7-day average growth rate in testing is 8.7%. Associated average growth rate of new cases is 8.3%. 
  • Testing volume and hospitalization numbers remain stable, even down slightly.
  • Sturgis: tests from Sturgis attendees now have identified 50 Minnesota cases, 1 death has been connected.
 
DEED Call, September 2
  • SBRG: of the 6,000 companies drawn in the lottery, approximately 15% ineligible. NPs continue to work on eligibility reviews and bringing those on the wait list into the process. As of Friday, 2,200 businesses have been approved. 

  • Lost Wages Assistance: FEMA announcement here.

  • Eligibility begins week of July 26, and payments are retroactive. If you have at least $100 of unemployment eligibility, you are eligible for this additional $300/week.

  • UI benefits ARE taxable

  • Lots of discussion about FFCRA eligibility, particularly as school starts. The key: if your school is not open for in-person schooling, whether for the entire Fall or for certain days of the week (in a hybrid situation), those days you are required to be home and care for your children make you eligible to use up to 2 weeks of FFCRA leave and/or expanded FMLA. Depends on the eligibility of your employer, so review the FAQs here.

  • Walz establishes Met Council oversight committee From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 31: The committee will work on recommendations regarding the role of elected council members, compared with appointed council members. They will also evaluate the role of the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the effectiveness of regional transit services.
 
IN THE NEWS
  • 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.

  • Coronavirus a reported $5 billion hit to Minnesota tourism industry From the Pioneer Press, September 2: Ben Wogsland, director of government relations for Hospitality Minnesota, a St. Paul association representing hotels, motels, lodges, restaurants, resorts and campgrounds, said the annual survey reflects what they have been hearing from businesses. “It’s a tough time for the hospitality industry in general in Minnesota,” Wogsland said. “And there’s a little bit of a mixed bag. We clearly saw through the summer and through the Fourth of July weekend and onward some positive things, especially due to recreational travel. People were willing to get out and travel the state a little bit more, and obviously that was helpful to resort properties and some of the lodging properties and campgrounds in Greater Minnesota.”
 
  • SBA Extends Hours of Virtual Loan Outreach Center in Minnesota From the SBA, September 2: To provide better service to disaster survivors, the U.S. SBA announced today that, effective immediately, the hours of operations for its Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center/Business Recovery Center (VDLOC) in Minnesota are now 8am – 8pm, Eastern Time, 7 days a week, for businesses and residences in the declared disaster area affected by civil unrest on May 27 through June 8, 2020. The new number to call the VDLOC for assistance is 800-659-2955. The declaration covers Hennepin, Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, and Write Counties.
 
  • HealthPartners recruiting Minnesotans for COVID-19 vaccine trial From the Star Tribune, September 2: Minnesotans now have their first shot at signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine trial – with Bloomington-based HealthPartners announcing Wednesday that it is recruiting up to 1,500 adults for AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 study.


  • State aims for quick turnaround on $300 unemployment boost From MPR, September 1: In an interview, Grove said 325,000 Minnesotans still request unemployment help on a weekly basis. He expects most but not all of them to be eligible for the extra $300 payment, which is retroactive to late July when the larger amount expired.
  • Covid likely to hurt business travel for years, experts say From the Minneapolis/St. Paul business Journal, September 1: It’s been a brutal year for the travel industry, and while leisure travel is expected to bounce back, the Covid-19 pandemic could significantly shrink business travel in the long run.
  • USDOL Issues 4 Opinion Letters addressing questions about employees, exemptions, and requirements
  • FLSA2020-11: Addressing whether the FLSA's "retail or service establishment" exemption applies to certain truck drivers who work for a private "oilfield service company" that provides waste-removal services for oilfield operators.
  • FLSA2020-12: Addressing whether an employer complies with FLSA's minimum wage requirements when reimbursing delivery drivers for business-related expenses incurred while using their personal vehicles during the course of employment.
  • FLSA2020-13: Addressing whether part-time employees who provide corporate-management training and are paid a day rate with additional hourly compensation qualify for the learned professional exemption and the highly compensated employee test under Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA.
  • FLSA2020-14: Addressing whether employees' hours must fluctuate above and below 40 hours per week to qualify for the fluctuating workweek method of calculating overtime pay.

Congress
  • Stimulus Talks Slowly Restart, With Little Progress Toward a Deal From Lockridge Grindal Nauen, August 31 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talked for the first time in three weeks late last week about the stalemate on a new pandemic relief bill, although without making any breakthrough to put negotiations back on track.

  • Speaker Pelosi said congressional Democrats are continuing to insist that the White House and congressional Republicans double their offer on a stimulus package for an economy still experiencing high rates of unemployment and business closures spurred by the pandemic.

  • According to the Speaker, Democrats are now willing to reduce their initial $3.4 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion, about $200 billion less than they had suggested earlier in the month. The Republican consensus has hovered closer to $1 trillion in stimulus dollars.

  • Mr. Meadows last week predicted that there would be no stimulus deal until the end of next month, and said that it may be combined with a stopgap resolution, which will likely be needed to sustain funding of the federal government beyond September 30.

The Legislature
  • Ready for the next Special Session? If you remember, earlier in August Governor Walz signed an EO extending the state’s peacetime emergency through September 11 (initially declared on March 16). More to come, but I imagine we will see another Special Session soon to extend another month.


COVID-19 update as of 9/3/2020 
Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 78,123
% Positives, last 7 days (as of 8/24): 4.9% (stable from last week)
Confirmed cases in U.S.: over 6.1M
Confirmed cases globally: over 26.1M
Cases requiring hospitalization: 6,592 (representing 8.4% of total)
#s currently hospitalized: 272 (down from 305 on 8/31)
#s no longer needing to be isolated: 70,175 (89.8%)
#s tested: 1,540,107
Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,837 (1,348/73.3% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities)
Total deaths in U.S.: over 186K
Total deaths globally: over 864K
Cases in Counties represented:
Hennepin County: 23,569 (885 deaths)
Ramsey County: 9,396 (299 deaths)
Dakota County: 6,219 (113 deaths)
Washington County: 3,124 (54 deaths) 


Resources
  • See available SBA COVID-19 training here.


 
 
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 safe and be well,

B

B Kyle
President/CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce