Missouri Minute: Pandemic may drive meat selection down; SSM Health furloughs 2,000

Good morning, MBA readers,

Gov. Mike Parson’s plan for restarting Missouri’s economy will kick into gear next week, upon the expiration of a stay-at-home order he issued in response to the coronavirus. On Monday, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missouri pushed past 7,100, Parson laid out the process he hopes will spur a “broader economic recovery” in the state. At the same time, businesses across the state continued to shed staff through mass furloughs and layoffs. SSM Health furloughed 2,000 employees for the next 13 weeks, while Leggett & Platt increased the number of employees it has furloughed to more than 600. Meanwhile, community hubs like farmers markets across the state and the Muny in St. Louis are hoping to continue their summer seasons with some COVID-19 modifications.

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Missouri COVID-19 cases jump past 7,100
The state’s confirmed case count pushed past 7,100 on Monday while deaths increased by 14 to 288 overall. Some 60% of the state’s positive cases are coming out of St. Louis County, followed by St. Charles and Jackson counties. (Kansas City Star)

Less than a day since opening, KC’s newest testing sites are full
All 500 slots at Kansas City’s pop-up coronavirus testing centers were filled hours after opening Monday morning. (Kansas City Star)

Pandemic to drive meat selection down, prices up
As COVID-19 hits large meat processing plants across the state and country, forcing some to close in order to keep workers safe, meat prices have slightly increased while selection has gone down. Tyson issued a statement Sunday saying “millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain.” (Associated Press)

SSM Health furloughs 2,000
SSM Health will furlough 2,000 workers — 5% of its employee base — across its four-state health system for an expected 13-week period. (KSDK)

Leggett & Platt reports additional job cuts
The company’s Carthage plant that manufactures bedding components will temporarily lay off an additional 215 workers, pushing Leggett & Platt’s layoff count to nearly 640. The company said the layoffs will continue indefinitely but are not expected to last longer than six months. (Springfield Business Journal)

Cerner offers patient data for COVID-19 researchers
The North Kansas City-based health care IT company says it will offer free access to anonymized patient data to researchers in order to help find treatment for the coronavirus. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Wash U houses frontline workers who can’t return home
The St. Louis university has offered up its student housing to around 50 local medical workers who can’t return home because they are working with COVID-19 patients and want to keep their families safe. (KSDK)

News-Leader union reverses layoffs
After newspaper publisher Gannett announced the layoffs of two Springfield News-Leader employees, the Springfield News Guild union stepped in and helped the employees get reinstated. (Springfield Business Journal)

Drury distributes emergency aid to students
The Springfield university will distribute need-based, no-strings-attached payments from $600 to $1,000 to students, allocated from Drury’s estimated $1.2 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government. (Springfield News-Leader)

Chiefs won’t commit to timeline for Mahomes extension
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is widely expected to land the richest contract in NFL history, and on Saturday Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt said a contract for Mahomes is “going to get done in the near-term.” However, Hunt would not commit to a timeline for the deal, which reports have suggested could be worth up to $40 million annually. (Arrowhead Pride)

Muny announces delayed, shortened theater season
The open-air theater in St. Louis’ Forest Park will host an abbreviated season this summer. Rather than starting as previously scheduled on June 15, the season will tentatively open July 20 and last until Aug. 30. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Ozark Farmers market pivots to drive-thru sales
The Ozark Farmers Market will open May 7 with drive-thru and pickup options, which organizers deemed safe enough to allow the market to open for the season as scheduled. (Springfield Business Journal)

Send tweet

That’s what Gov. Mike Parson tweeted Monday as he detailed his plan for reopening the state’s economy on May 4. Parson said that the state’s hospitals are “NOT overwhelmed,” and that Missouri is “successfully flattening the curve.” His comments drew criticism that the state did not respond quickly to the coronavirus outbreak and that statewide cases have eclipsed 7,100. Parson went on to describe his reopening plan as “the turn of a dial… NOT the flip of a switch.” Under the plan, Missouri businesses will be able to reopen May 4 but must maintain social distancing rules and minimize building occupancy. People are also encouraged, but not required, to work remotely whenever possible and return to work in phases or split shifts.

Say that again

“Against the background of a looming recession and looking at, in part, considerable liquidity challenges, this applies now more than ever.”

That’s what Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said Monday of the company’s new, tougher stance on settling lawsuits related to its Roundup weedkiller, Reuters reports. Bayer, which continues to deny claims that Roundup causes cancer, will only consider a new settlement proposal if it “puts in place a mechanism to resolve potential claims efficiently,” Baumann added. The move comes as the coronavirus pandemic substantially slows the mediation process, which has swelled to 52,500 plaintiffs from 48,600 in February. Also on Monday, Bayer said pre-tax earnings grew 10.2% to $4.76 billion in the first quarter. The company cited stockpiling of drugs amid the pandemic as a safety net.

Go figure

$95 million

That’s how much regional convention spending is at risk in St. Louis as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cast uncertainty over the events and tourism industry, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. In all, the city’s 25 largest conventions were expected to generate $157 million in regional direct spending this year. Six of them have canceled so far, costing $35 million in potential spending. Other conventions, valued at $95 million, have not canceled yet but could if shutdowns persist. The unpredictability, coupled with a general shock to the tourism industry, has strained Explore St. Louis, the tourism agency that runs America’s Center convention center. The agency depends on a hotel tax for funding, which has virtually dried up with regional occupancy rates below 30%.

Hello, my name is

Avadel Pharmaceuticals

This Chesterfield-based company on Monday reported positive results in a clinical trial for its new narcolepsy drug, sending its stock up 13% to a closing price of $11.15, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Once based in France, Avadel underwent a “transformation period” for the first nine months of last year, during which it cut costs by more than $80 million after discontinuing a drug it had released just a year earlier. It was also during this time that the company made the clinical trial for the new narcolepsy drug its main focus.

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


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