Missouri Minute: California court refuses Roundup appeal; bankruptcy attorneys brace for ‘flood’

Hello, MBA readers,

As the country broke its single-day COVID-19 case count record in recent days with more than 83,000 cases confirmed on both Friday and Saturday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services contended with the challenge of keeping an accurate count of COVID-19 hospitalizations. State health officials blamed flaws in a federal reporting system for Missouri under-counting hospitalizations last week, but they say the issue has been resolved. The pandemic also has put significant strain on the state’s unemployment office. According to a new report, the office was so overwhelmed when job losses peaked during the spring that more than 100,000 calls per day went unanswered on multiple occasions. And, in an effort to address bandwidth concerns raised by the pandemic, the federal government has announced $91.5 million of grants and loans to expand broadband internet access in rural Missouri. More than half of the new funding is going to one Nixa-based company.


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Now hear this

Speaking Startup: Lessons learned launching an accelerator in a pandemic
Kansas City’s BCP Tech Accelerator concluded its first cohort earlier this month. The debut was not without challenges. The coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the accelerator and forced it to go from an in-person format to a virtual one. Nathan Kurtz of Brush Creek Partners, the insurance company behind the startup program, joined the Speaking Startup podcast to discuss challenges and lessons learned launching an accelerator in a pandemic.


Stay alert

Reporting flaw causes inaccurate COVID-19 hospitalization count
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said a problem with the federal coronavirus reporting system led to COVID-19 hospitalizations in Missouri being under-reported for a period last week. (Associated Press)

California Supreme Court refuses to hear Roundup appeal
The court will not consider Bayer’s appeal of a $20.4 million settlement awarded to a groundskeeper who said Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused his cancer. (St. Louis Business Journal)

KC firm sues insurer for denying college COVID-19 claims
Kansas City law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson has filed a class-action suit against Zurich American Insurance on behalf of colleges that were denied coverage for pandemic-related damages. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri recruits influencers to promote COVID-19 precautions
Gov. Mike Parson has reviewed a prospective list of celebrities the state hopes will help a social media campaign reminding Missourians to follow COVID-19 guidance. The list ranges from former St. Louis Cardinals star Ozzie Smith to TikTok celebrity Nickolas Ray. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KC-area theater chains struggle to stay afloat
Both AMC Theatres and B&B Theatres have said they could face bankruptcy if they don’t see increased revenue or federal stimulus in the near future. (Kansas City Star)

Boone County named finalist for Urban Institute grant
The mid-Missouri county is one of 26 finalists for the institute’s Upward Mobility Cohort, which will provide $125,000 and technical assistance to eight counties looking to increase social and economic mobility. (Columbia Missourian)


Say that again

“I’ve been worried that a flood of work is coming, so I’ve been looking at our capabilities.”

That’s Eric Johnson, a partner at Kansas City law firm Spencer Fane who specializes in bankruptcy. Attorneys are prepping for a wave of bankruptcies from companies unable to survive the pandemic, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Even attorneys who don’t typically consider themselves bankruptcy attorneys are beginning to transition to the practice to meet anticipated demand.


Go figure

120,000

That’s how many calls to the Missouri Division of Employment Security went unanswered in a single day in April, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The unemployment office was so overwhelmed in the early days of the pandemic, it pulled workers from other departments to help. Despite those efforts, laid-off workers faced delays in benefits. One St. Louis resident said it took five weeks to get his first unemployment check after he was furloughed. But CARES Act funding in the state was put toward programs that helped Missouri fare better than other states in making initial payments, according to the Century Foundation, a think tank that studies unemployment.


Hello my name is

Total Highspeed

The Nixa-based internet service provider was the largest recipient of a new wave of $91.5 million in federal grants and loans to expand broadband in Missouri. Total Highspeed received $49.8 million to connect a projected total of more than 26,000 people, 700 farms and 400 businesses to fiber broadband in southwest Missouri. Three other providers received about $43 million combined. Total Highspeed has previously received funding from the same federal program, including around $40 million back in January.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.



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