I imagine most of us read about this past weekend’s passing of Marny Xiong, Saint Paul Public School Board Chairwoman, due to the COVID-19 virus. She was a good friend to many of us…a friend shared with me this morning that the light inside her was not a “flash” but was, instead, unending love and commitment to her work. She had so much left to give to the world. Such a painful loss. This is one example, replicated so many times across our lives, of the losses we are experiencing.
We are grieving with you all today.
And yet, as we're still hurting, we're also still working.
One more urgent reminder to business: Ramsey County’s Small Business Relief Fund (up to $7500 grant based on economic injury from COVID-19) application window is open through Friday, June 12. If yours is a locally owned and operated for-profit business in Ramsey County, please see more info here to determine your eligibility and apply!
The Neighbors United Collaborative Fund originally was established by the Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Councils to support local businesses around Allianz Field. The funds now are being collected to help damaged storefronts. Click here to learn more and make a donation.
In terms of our tracking of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest,and our response to both:
On Friday, U.S. Bank announced “it will pledge $116 million across its footprint to address long-standing social and economic inequities in the markets it serves and broaden opportunities for people of color.” Specifically, $100 million in additional capital will be pledged to help support African-American owned and operated businesses, with a $15 million U.S. Bank Foundation fund providing grants “to ease systemic economic and racial inequities in small business, affordable housing and workplace development for people of color nationwide.” Additionally, the bank will “give $1 million toward the launch of a Community Development Financial Institutions partnership program to award grants and commercial loans to organizations.” In a statement, Andy Cecere, Chairman, President and CEO, said, “George Floyd’s life had meaning and purpose. We need to do what we can to give the heartbreak that has followed meaning and purpose as well. If we are truly going to draw strength from diversity, we have to do better. We have to create opportunities that bridge gaps, that generate economic prosperity and that allow people to achieve their potential.” You can find the full announcement here.
If your business needs assistance in determining occupant load factors as part of a phased re-opening, feel free to contact Summit Companies at 651.272.3769. Summit’s code consultants provide these services for all types of buildings all over the country, and they have an office in Saint Paul.
Target commits $10 million and ongoing resources for rebuilding efforts and advancing social justice. Target’s CEO Brian Cornell shares the Target team’s commitment to stand against racism. He pledged to face anxiety, fear and sorrow with purpose, and formed an enterprise task force to determine how to help create solutions for the injustice black families and people of color face every day.
In service to businesses struggling due to COVID-19, The Minnesota Chamber is compiling a “Restoration and Recovery Resource.” It is harnessing its members’ connections and resources, intending to make them available, free of charge, to help businesses get back on their feet. In the East Metro, is a good feeder for Pay It Forward and Neighbors Helping Neighbors. If your business is willing to donate your expertise or time, Click here.
Today’s Updates Various key events will happen in the coming days:
Tuesday, June 10th – George Floyd funeral in Houston, TX
Friday, June 12th – Minnesota Legislature likely in Special Session
Updates from the Governor
EO 20-74 issued Fri, Jun 5: activating Phase 3 of Governor’s Plan to Safely Reopen Minnesota’s economy during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency
EO 20-73 issued Fri, Jun 5: clarifying EO 20-14 suspending evictions and writs of recovery during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency
Monday’s Briefing, 2:00pm: MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm
Today, 198 people are in an ICU, and those #s represent the 5th straight day of decrease. ICU capacity is at the same level as it was in mid-May.
Sports: have been categorized into low/medium/high risk categories depending on such factors as proximity, contact, shared equipment. Anticipate that, if health measures continue to improve, allowing for games within “medium risk” sports by the end of June.
Encouragement for community testing: due to concern about potential exposure/transmission associated with the recent large public gatherings/demonstrations, MDH is encouraging people who have participated in large gatherings to seek COVID-19 testing – regardless of symptoms. Standing up three sites in Minneapolis and one in Saint Paul. Details for locations are being finalized now.
Over 10K tests processed on Sunday. Continues a good trend of significantly increased testing volume.
Kris Ehresmann: Reported testing #s is based on the # of tests run/day. Previously had been counting # of tests/person. Since some individuals have received more than one test, this change is important in order to track volume of tests themselves.
Friday’s Briefing, 2:00pm: Governor Walz, Commissioners Grove, Malcolm, Lucero, Harrington
Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-74, which outlines the next phase in the reopening of businesses and activities in Minnesota. “Thank you, Minnesotans, for the sacrifices you’ve made to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Walz said. “Thanks to your dedication, we are now in a position to carefully turn the dial toward reopening society. As we move forward, it is more important than ever that we each do our part as we trust and rely on each other to keep our state safe.”
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED
Phase 3 of the Stay Safe Plan.The State of Minnesota has also launched a new website – www.staysafe.mn.gov– to serve as a one-stop-shop for all of the guidance created by state agencies to help businesses, organizations and individuals stay safe will returning to work and activities we enjoy. Guidance for all of the industries listed below and many more are available on that new hub.
If you’re still in search of information, DEED has built out a robust submission form that will immediately send your questions to the right agency for answers.
Several new types of businesses will be allowed to resume operations, provided they can adhere to social distancing rules:
Outdoor social and low-risk recreational gatherings can take place with 25 people or less (low-risk sports are those where social distancing can be maintained)
Gyms and fitness centers can open at 25% capacity, pools can be operated at 50% capacity.
Places of worship can increase occupancy to 50% capacity, not to exceed 250 people. This will allow funerals and weddings to take place.
Indoor recreation and entertainment venues can open at 25% capacity.
Employees must continue to work from home, if they are able.
DEED has issued guidance for each specific industry, as well as for sporting events such as races and youth baseball.
Planning is critical
Critical part of keeping people safe and building consumer confidence
Makes sense for every business to have a plan. If you don't have one yet, today's EO requires you have one by June 29.
EO 20-74 also requires DOL, MDH, DEED to have additional guidance online by June 15.
Counting on Minnesotans to reengage in their economy.
Unrelated to opening: re UI, transitioning to federal funding
Based on the pace, our trust fund will go negative in early July.
Sending letter to DOL to start drawing down federal $. Won't impact the recipients.
Most states are doing this.
Federal govt has announced that those loans to states are interest free through the end of the year.
We borrowed in 2009, paid off by 2012. so we have experience with this.
Again, no interruptions in benefits.
Jan Malcolm, Commissioner of MDH
Health context for today’s decisions, based on last 2 weeks of data collection: we’ve hit a plateau in terms of # of cases.
“Wave” pattern: several days of declining cases, followed by another uptick… but each uptick is lower than the last.
Hospital care: pattern of #s requiring hospital is decreasing.
Some hospitals are ICU filled but statewide we're in good shape for critical care capacity.
We are looking at this data daily and load-leveling to move patients and balance services.
Testing: now 11K/day. Capacity for over 15K/day now, across the systems. Growing to 20K/day and beyond if we need it.
Our "dial-back" measures: tracking closely to monitor further progression:
% of tests any day that are positive – goal is to keep below 15% for 7-day average. At ½ that target level now.
Volume of testing, per-population – warning threshold is not less than 50/10K residents. Currently at 96 tests/10K residents. “top of pack nationally.”
Community spread (% with no demonstrable link/source) – warning threshold is no more than 30% over 7 days. State average now is at 33%, over this threshold. Watching carefully.
Rate of new cases – the “doubling rate” – warning threshold is no faster than 7 days. Now at 27 days. As case volume has grown, this measure is less helpful.
Hospitalizations – how are they growing on a per-population basis – warning threshold is 4 people/100K pop. Statewide average is 9.9/100K/week. Above this threshold as well.
Rebecca Lucero, Commissioner of MN Dept of Human Rights
Highlighted the efforts of the Community Resiliency and Recovery Workgroup that is addressing COVID-19 impacts in communities of color.
The workgroup has deployed mobile testing sites, increased testing at community health centers, and provided 100,000 masks to community-based organizations to distribute to the people they serve.
Goal is to develop near and long term strategy/guidance to support recovery and resiliency for POCI, immigrants, refugees, mixed-status families.
Three things to note:
Generations of inequitable health care and poverty rates, POC have higher risk of health issues. At higher risk for severe illness from COVID
POCI work in jobs that are essential; so overwhelmingly not working from home, on front lines or laid off.
Many of these jobs are low wage, without adequate access to health or child care.
African Americans represent 6% of population and 24% tested positive: test 2x higher than all, 4x more than whites.
LatinX (represents 5% of population) tests positive 3x higher than all, and 5x higher than whites.
14-15 states talking about COVID as it relates to race.
John Harrington, Commissioner of Department of Public Safety
We've had a few good nights. I don't take that for granted.
Impressed by all the work being done, everyone working together to keep the peace.
Moving from having some good nights to talking about resiliency.
State assets, local police, sheriffs, Natl Guard, staying prepared. Reducing public facing presence, but there will be just as many people working to ensure Minnesotans stay safe.
Law enforcement partners: we knocked it out of the park on the curfew. Every night it got better.
No need for curfew moving forward. but we will ask you to continue staying home. Will help us continue to be able to identify bad actors.
Keeping the multi-agency coordination and command center open this weekend. It's about being vigilant.
We've had success, but is no guarantee. Is as guaranteed as we are watchful and aware.
State Patrol will send some troopers back to Greater MN where they are desperately needed. Started this morning.
National Guard will continue its core mission of fixed-site security. We do have a plan to move that group back home as well. We have less need now than when we started.
In addition to demobilizing, other assets are mobilizing. ATF is on the streets working on explosions, fires, ww local fire chiefs to hold people accountable for those who caused them. We've seen folks out at night with guns, we're looking for them actively and still collecting intelligence.
Investigations will continue long after you see Nat'l Guard out here. Until people are held accountable.
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (PPPFA) signed on June 5th - What changed?
Covered period: The new rules extend the covered period from the current 8 weeks to 24 weeks. The covered period is the time in which businesses may incur or pay expenses to be considered for forgiveness, beginning on the date of loan origination. Borrowers may elect to use either an 8-week or 24-week covered period.
Percent of forgiveness attributed to payroll expenses: Under the new rules, 60 percent of the forgiveness amount must be for eligible payroll costs, including cash compensation, employer contributions to health plans and retirement and owner compensation. The effect of this change is that a greater amount of non-payroll costs, such as utilities, rent and mortgage interest, will be eligible for forgiveness.
Extending deferrals: The legislation delayed when borrowers must make repayments on their loans. Loan deferrals are extended to the point U.S. Bank receives the SBA’s decision on a borrower’s application for loan forgiveness, which could be as long as 150 days under the current guidelines. Businesses that do not submit an application for loan forgiveness within 10 months of the last day of the covered period must begin making payments at that time.
Rehire deadline: Under the new rules, businesses have until December 31, 2020 to restore full-time equivalent (FTE) employee levels to pre-COVID levels to qualify for full forgiveness. Businesses who are not able to rehire the same or similarly qualified employees, with good faith documentation, may not face reductions in their forgiveness amount.
Exemptions for COVID closures: Businesses that were unable to return to pre-COVID levels of activity due to compliance with certain COVID-related orders will also not be subject to reductions in their forgiveness amount, as long as they can provide good faith documentation.
Payroll tax deferral: Recipients of PPP loans may defer payment of federal payroll taxes.
During Friday's press conference, Commissioner Harrington shared that incidents of vehicles with no plates should be called to non-emergency lines 651-291-1111; anything with fires, bricks, immediate harm, etc. should of course go to 911.
As St. Paul’s Midway business corridor reopens, some look to an uncertain future - From St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 8: The Midway will rise again… Bonnie Vogel, CEO of Vogel Mechanical Inc., is optimistic. She said rebuilding the Midway area will serve as an opportunity to improve construction practices. It’s even possible that historical economic and racial disparity gaps can be narrowed…. Still, “a lot of them are still unsure what their next steps are going to be,” Chad Kulas, executive director of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday. “A lot of them are unsure if they want to rebuild, if they can afford it. But the ones that are really dedicated, they’ve hit the ground running.”
Latest on COVID-19 in MN: ICU cases hit lowest point in a weekFrom MPR, June 5: Hospitalizations and intensive care needs are key metrics officials examine as they try to manage the spread of the disease so it does not overwhelm the health care system. Current ICU cases are at their lowest point in a week. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 but not in intensive care is at its lowest point in three weeks.
Delta Air Lines to test all employees for coronavirusFrom ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, June 4: Delta Air Lines, the Twin Cities dominant carrier, plans to test all of its employees for COVID-19 as it prepares to add back more flights at its Atlanta hub in July as travel gradually recovers. CEO Ed Bastian said the company will soon announce a partnership with the Mayo Clinic and Quest Diagnostics to test all Delta employees for the coronavirus or antibodies.
Travelers now strongly encouraged to wear a facial covering at the MSP Airport From MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL BUSINESS JOURNAL: “Consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, I highly recommend that everyone wear face coverings while at any MAC airport,” wrote MAC Executive Director and CEO Brian Ryks in a letter in a letter to travelers.
INSURANCE: via news release from The Insurance Federation of Minnesota: “The events of the last week in Minnesota have been very unsettling for residents and business owners. Scenes of civil unrest, rioting and looting have many on edge. Rebuilding areas that have been damaged or destroyed will take time and money. But in many cases, insurance will help with financial recovery. Most standard insurance policies for business owners, homeowners and vehicle owners do provide coverage for losses related to civil unrest so policyholders should take action soon to start the claims process. If you or your business has been affected by the damage from the recent events, the following tips will help the claims process go more smoothly:
CAREFULLY make temporary accommodations to prevent further damage but do not risk injury to yourself or others in doing so.
Document with photos, videos and notes the extent of the damage and your losses.
Having access to business records is helpful in claims processing.
Contact your insurance agent or insurers’ claims hotline as soon as possible.
Keep receipts of whatever you might spend on cleanup, temporary repair or emergency expenses. In many cases, these costs are reimbursable.
Auto claims for damage due to civil unrest is available if the policyholder purchased the optional comprehensive coverage, which is widely available.
At the end of last week the Department of Commerce sent out insurance tips for business or residential property owners that may have sustained damage or loss from the destructive events from last week. Here are the links:
COVID-19 update as of 6/8/2020 Confirmed cases in Minnesota: 28,224 Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 6/8): approaching $2M Confirmed cases globally (as of 6/8): over 7M Cases requiring hospitalization: 3,401 (representing 12% of total) #s currently hospitalized: 452 (down from 512 on 6/4) #s no longer needing to be isolated: 23,657 #s tested: 354,226 Total deaths in Minnesota: 1,197 (955/79.7% cases in long term care or assisted living facilities) Total deaths in U.S. (updated 6/8): almost 117K Total deaths globally (updated 6/8): almost 410K Cases in Counties represented: Hennepin County: 9,480 (681 deaths) Ramsey County: 3,553 (158 deaths) Dakota County: 1,523 (65 deaths) Washington County: 731 (37 deaths)
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 Kyle President/CEO Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce