Missouri Minute: COVID-19 cases double in McDonald County; AMC reverses face mask policy

Good morning, MBA readers,

More than a billion dollars of federal coronavirus response funding in Missouri is sitting unused as state and local officials grapple with changing guidelines on how to disburse the money. According to Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, an estimated $1.5 billion in CARES Act funding is unspent by the state. More than two dozen Missouri counties have said they don’t have a plan for spending the money — or, if they do, they haven’t spent it yet. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in McDonald County, which reported 196 new cases on Sunday. That brings the total to 434 cases in the southwest Missouri county, which has two poultry processing plants. Last month, more than 400 people working at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph were diagnosed with COVID-19. Plus, AMC Theaters has reversed a decision to allow customers to enter its theaters without face masks. The cinema chain faced backlash on social media after it made the initial decision, and now the Kansas City-area company will ask all customers to wear masks when theaters reopen in July.


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Now hear this

Speaking Startup: Coworking in the coronavirus age
Coworking is often described using terms like communal, collaborative and close-knit. In the age of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of those are four-letter words. As the pandemic forces shared workspace operators and tenants to adjust, the latest episode of Speaking Startup looks at how that’s playing out in Missouri.


Stay alert

COVID-19 cases double in McDonald County, home of two poultry processing plants
The county, which has about 23,000 residents, announced that the number of new coronavirus cases has doubled. It reported 196 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 434 cases. There are two poultry processing plants in the county — one in Noel, owned by Tyson, and another in Southwest City, owned by Simmons Foods. (Kansas City Star)

YRC Worldwide struggles to pay benefits amid pandemic 
The Overland Park, Kansas-based trucking company has seen shipments decrease nearly 24% since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The company is seeking to defer benefit payments, including medical coverage to union workers. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Joplin experiences nation’s highest daily growth rate for coronavirus 
The Joplin region averaged the highest daily growth rate for coronavirus cases over a seven-day period ending Thursday, according to national data from the Dartmouth Atlas Project. The area witnessed nearly 12% increase a day during that stretch. (Kansas City Star)

AMC reverses face mask policy after facing criticism on social media 
A day after announcing that moviegoers would not be required to wear face masks, AMC Theatres reversed its decision after facing sharp backlash on social media. The Leawood, Kansas-based cinema chain will now ask all customers to wear face masks when theaters open in July. (Kansas City Star)

Worlds of Fun reopening with safety precautions in place 
As amusement parks across the state and country reopen this month or by mid-July, a plethora of health and safety regulations are being put in place. Guests at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City will require a reservation and time-slot to get in. (KCTV)

Columbia greenhouses see surge in sales amid COVID-19 pandemic 
Greenhouses, which are considered essential business by the state, saw business increase as the pandemic drove up demand for plants and gardening. Superior Garden Center, a nursery in Columbia, said sales were up by 30% this year. (Columbia Missourian)

Golf entertainment complex slated to open in Kansas City at Metro North Crossing 
T- Shotz plans to open by Labor Day. The 52,000-square-foot facility plans to hire nearly 200 staffers at full occupancy. (Kansas City Business Journal)


Say that again

“Instead of being an asset for malls, they become an albatross around their neck.”

That’s what Chris Kuiper, an equity analyst and vice president at CFRA Research, has to say about the role of anchor stores in malls today. Anchor stores, the sprawling department stores designed to draw a variety of customers to the mall, have closed down across the country, leaving large empty spaces that are hard to fill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Green Street Advisors, a real estate research firm, predicts that 60% of mall-based department stores will close by the end of next year. Some believe this is the beginning of a trend toward entertainment-based town centers rather than the retail-based idea of the American mall.


Go figure

$2.38 billion

That’s how much money Missouri received through the federal CARES Act passed in March, but it’s unclear how and when officials will spend much of it. Changes in guidelines regarding how the money can be spent have delayed state and local officials in using the funds. More than two dozen counties said they either don’t have a plan for spending the money — or, if they do have a plan, they haven’t disbursed the funds yet.


Send tweet


That was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tweeting about his affinity for Whataburger in late 2018. The Texas-born football star and Texas-based burger chain went back and forth on Twitter over the quarterback’s love of ketchup and Whataburger. Now, nearly two years later, The Kansas City Star reports, Mahomes may get his wish. The chain is discussion with Lee’s Summit to bring a store to the Kansas City suburb. There have been no official plans submitted, but local officials confirmed they have met with Whataburger representatives to discuss a location in the city. It would be the first location in Missouri for Whataburger, which has more than 830 locations in 10 states.


Hello, my name is

Confluence Discovery Technologies

St. Louis-based Confluence, which was acquired by Pennsylvania-based biopharmaceutical company Aclaris Therapeutics in 2017, has developed the new drug ATI-450 to use on patients hospitalized with COVID-19. A trial sponsored by the University of Kansas Medical Center will include 36 hospitalized patients, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Confluence has worked on the drug for several years, and it was originally targeted for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.


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


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