Good morning, MBA readers,
As daunting as it has been for businesses to face the coronavirus shutdown, the specter looms of a potentially more difficult fate: a second shutdown during the summer. Just a day after Missouri reopened most businesses, a top health official in Kansas City voiced concerns about a potential second wave of infections that he fears may be more difficult to lock down. Yet cries against a prolonged shutdown continue, with businesses in Columbia and the St. Louis area taking legal action aimed at easing local restrictions. It remains unclear when it will be fully safe to resume everyday activities, but in a rare sign of stability, the University of Missouri reported a flat number of enrollment deposits for the fall semester.
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From our newsroom
Fitness businesses see flexibility tested by government orders, customer needs
The statewide stay-at-home order was lifted Monday, but gyms, studios and clubs throughout Missouri have been forced to make significant adjustments in the face of temporary closures and potentially longer-lasting shifts in consumer preference.
Amid pandemic shocks, St. Louis startup stakeholders find hopeful signs
Pressing concerns were met by encouraging new developments and hopeful historical examples as the St. Louis Regional Chamber brought together key stakeholders from the area’s startup community to discuss their outlook for after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Missouri unemployment filings eclipse half a million in 7 weeks
Missouri saw more than 52,000 initial unemployment claims for the week ended May 2. More than half a million Missourians have filed for unemployment in the last seven weeks as the coronavirus continues to fuel job losses.
‘Even more difficult’: KC health director warns of second shutdown this summer
Businesses may have to shut down a second time around the end of June as more cities and counties reopen their economies against health experts’ warnings, Kansas City Health Department Director Rex Archer said. (Kansas City Star)
Masks could be the norm under St. Louis County reopening plan
St. Louis city and county will begin to gradually lift stay-at-home restrictions on May 18, according to top officials. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday that his administration is considering a provision that would allow businesses to refuse service to customers who are not covering their face. New guidelines are expected to be finalized next week. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
St. Louis-area businesses sue local governments over pandemic measures
The owners of a gym and an antique store filed a joint lawsuit over stay-at-home orders in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, claiming the orders conflict with state law. An attorney for the county argues that its later reopening date does not conflict with state policy since there has been no state pandemic declaration. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Judge dismisses Missouri lawsuit over food plant safety
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of workers at Smithfield Foods’ meatpacking facility in Milan, Missouri, ruling that it’s up to federal regulators, not the courts, to reinforce pandemic guidelines around workplace safety. (Associated Press)
Bullard opposes state bailouts
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the federal government should not provide bailouts to debt-ridden states at the expense of other states. His comments follow Illinois’ request for more than $41 billion in federal aid to keep the state financially afloat. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Missouri state fair could be canceled or shortened
Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that he is waiting until June 1 to decide whether to cancel the annual state fair due to lingering concerns over the coronavirus. The fair, initially scheduled for mid-August, typically draws about 350,000 visitors over 11 days. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
New BJC policy requires everyone to wear masks
Starting Wednesday, BJC HealthCare will require all patients, visitors and employees at its facilities to wear face masks as an “additional measure of caution” against COVID-19. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Spring Venture Group announces new chief marketing officer
The Kansas City-based marketer of supplemental Medicare plans has hired Grant Eckert as its new chief marketing officer, the same role Eckert most recently held at National Debt Relief. Eckert previously served as vice president of marketing at J.G. Wentworth. (Kansas City Business Journal)
MU sees stable enrollment deposits
By May 1, or “decision day,” the University of Missouri received enrollment deposits from more than 5,400 incoming students, compared to 5,460 last May. A spokesperson said the university was “very pleased,” given the situation. (Columbia Missourian)
Nonprofit pays former general’s firm to assist Missouri coronavirus response
The Missouri Foundation for Health has agreed to pay $600,000 to Virginia-based McChrystal Group — led by former U.S. general Stanley McChrystal — for consulting on the state’s efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. The bill includes roughly $250,000 a month for work in April and May, plus $50,000 a month in expenses. (Kansas City Star)
Say that again
“It’s also really hard to work a job when you have no relationship, really, of trust with your employers anymore and you feel not supported by them and not valued by them.”
That’s Washington University junior Jada Gardner, one of roughly 130 resident advisors at the school asking for financial compensation after losing campus housing due to the coronavirus, St. Louis Public Radio reports. Also known as RAs, these older students help supervise dorms in exchange for free room and board. The RAs say they were “randomly evicted” from their rooms via email after the campus shut down due to COVID-19 fears in March during spring break. A petition calling on the university to issue $750 emergency grants to displaced and unemployed RAs has garnered more than 1,600 signatures. But the school contends that there are no lost wages to replace, since the RAs were compensated with housing and meal plans that they are no longer using during the pandemic.
That’s how many businesses signed a letter asking Boone County officials to repeal the county’s reopening order, KMIZ reports. Attorneys from Eng & Woods law firm in Columbia sent the letter Tuesday. Boone County’s order differs from the state order by requiring some businesses — like bars — to stay closed until further notice and placing occupancy limits on businesses other than retail. Business owners who signed the letter say they want to restrict local officials’ ability to decide which businesses are essential and which are not.
Hello, my name is
That’s the name of a St. Louis-based medical technology startup that recently agreed to a strategic partnership with University Hospital of Augsburg in Germany, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The company, developed through Washington University and founded by Rakesh Nagarajan, provides clinical genomics technologies through a software-as-a-service platform. Through the deal with the hospital, the firm’s technology will be used in cancer testing.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.