Missouri Minute: Universities test coronavirus vaccines; state offers relief for coworking spaces

Good morning, MBA readers,

As Missouri’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise and people grow weary of social distancing and mask orders, researchers at two universities in St. Louis are providing hope for a more effective solution. Washington University and St. Louis University will begin conducting clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine. At another Missouri university, the coronavirus is again raising questions over privacy and public health. University of Missouri leaders said that students will not be required to report positive COVID-19 tests because that would violate medical privacy rights. That could pose challenges to tracking COVID-19 cases on campus with the university set to start fall classes next month. Plus, state officials continue to announce new efforts to provide relief from the pandemic’s financial toll. On Wednesday, Missouri launched a new grant program to help coworking spaces and incubator facilities, and a state board announced a loan program to help cash-strapped local governments.


Stay alert

St. Louis universities join clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines
Researchers at Washington University and St. Louis University are joining a national effort to test various vaccines for the coronavirus. They are seeking roughly 3,000 volunteers for the trials. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

New relief program announced for small communities
The Missouri Development Finance Board announced a $5 million relief program to help municipalities with fewer than 25,000 people that have felt financial strains due to COVID-19. (MBA)

MU students not required to report positive COVID-19 tests
Students at the University of Missouri will not be required to report positive coronavirus tests to the school, as that would infringe upon their rights and violate medical privacy laws. Students are encouraged to self-report to the university so university officials can control the spread of the virus. (Columbia Missourian)

Ground broken on new Mercy hospital cancer center
The St. Louis-based health system is building a cancer treatment facility that will house new research-based cancer treatment machines. The addition is expected to be completed by summer 2022. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Lawmakers to delay decisions on violent crime legislation
Gov. Mike Parson will not see the swift action he had hoped for on crime legislation, as lawmakers plan to wait until after the Aug. 4 election to begin work on the bills. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Kansas City RV business booming during pandemic
Some recreational vehicle dealers have seen up to an 83% increase in sales from vacationers looking for a getaway while maintaining social distancing. RV parks and campsites are also seeing an increase in reservations. (Kansas City Star)

United to require passengers to wear masks at airports
While masks are already required on flights, the airline will now require its passengers to wear masks while they are in airports. Customers who refuse to comply may be placed on an internal no-fly list until the masking requirement ends. (Kansas City Star)

St. Louis may see high school sports season delayed
The state’s high school athletics organization has given the green light for teams to begin playing in August, but local governments have the final say. If schools close statewide this fall, all sports events will also be canceled. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Measure rejected to limit state of emergency in St. Louis County
The St. Louis County Council dismissed a proposition that would have limited to 15 days the length of time that a state of emergency can be in effect. The county has been in a state of emergency since March 13. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Printing entrepreneur launches health products brand
Rick Krska, owner of InkCycle and LaserCyle, Kansas City-area businesses that specialize in products and services for printers, founded Emerald Prairie Health in response to market demands due to the pandemic. The company sources and creates personal protective equipment and health products, such as face masks and hand sanitizer. (Kansas City Business Journal


Show me

As workers fan out across parts of Missouri to collect responses to the 2020 census, about six in 10 households in the state have self-responded. The highest self-response rates as of Wednesday were in counties that are home to suburbs of the state’s largest cities. St. Charles County led the state with a 78.2% response rate.


Say that again

“In the future, it will be easier for people to monitor their own vitals at home — you won’t need to go to the hospital to monitor your body systems.”

That’s Yadong Xu, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, who was lead author on a study that used electrodes from a pencil and paper to monitor various health indicators, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Xu believes that his study and others like it could have a significant impact on the health care industry. Though the study was conducted on a small number of people, its goal was to prove that the materials could be used to monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, brain activity, muscle activity, body temperature and sweat composition. Researchers believe their work may lead to less expensive health monitoring products, providing an alternative to typically expensive smartwatches and allowing such technology to be adopted around the world.


Go figure

$1 million

Missouri is using $1 million in CARES Act funds to launch a grant program helping coworking spaces and business incubators in the state with coronavirus-related expenses, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The funding will go to Missouri-based nonprofits and university-sponsored spaces, and the deadline to apply is Aug. 17. The Missouri Technology Corp. will manage the program, and its officials say grants will be limited to $50,000 per applicant. Recipients are expected to be announced between late September and early October.


Hello, my name is

Christopher Waller

The executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has been approved by the Senate Banking Committee for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, The Wall Street Journal reports. The final step in his appointment will be a vote by the full Senate. Waller joined the St. Louis Fed in 2009, and before that was a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame. The seven-member board has played a prominent role in fighting the economic fallout from the coronavirus, making decisions about the emergency lending programs the Fed has introduced in response to the pandemic.


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


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