Hello, MBA readers,
As cities and states across the country have emerged from coronavirus lockdowns, some places have fared better than others. St. Louis has backslid on its reopening measures as COVID-19 case counts rise. The city was mentioned on a federal list of 11 cities that need to be more aggressive in their coronavirus response, and social media posts over the weekend revealed that some businesses have been flouting health regulations. In response, the mayor of St. Louis and county executive of St. Louis County both announced plans for stricter enforcement of local coronavirus regulations. However, as officials ask the public to take a step back toward earlier pandemic responses, some companies are moving in the other direction. Multiple utility companies in the state are set to resume disconnections for past-due bills. That comes at a difficult time for some customers, as added federal unemployment benefits put in place to help those affected by the pandemic are set to expire at the end of the month. One thing showing no signs of ending soon is debate over municipal mask ordinances. Local officials in Branson are expected to resume discussion today about the issue of a local mask mandate, which has elicited strong responses from residents of that town and others across the state.
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Special session on crime begins
Legislators met in Jefferson City on Monday to discuss how to address violent crime in the state. Gov. Mike Parson wants legislative changes that would increase criminal charges for violent crimes, but some lawmakers want to see police reform. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Garmin confirms cyberattack, says return to normal is near
The maker of navigation and communications devices, which has its operations headquarters in the Kansas City area, said Monday it was hit by a cyberattack last week but that its systems would be fully functional within days. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Utilities to resume disconnections for unpaid bills
Companies including Ameren and Missouri American Water are set to lift disconnection bans just as pandemic unemployment checks are scheduled to stop. The situation could result in widespread losses of service during high summer temperatures. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Big-ticket purchases increase in June
Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods jumped by 7.3% in June. After sharp drops in March and April, the June data extends gains in the sector that began in May. (Associated Press)
St. Louis pandemic task force chief to lead national public health committee
Dr. Alex Garza, chief medical officer for SSM Health and head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, will lead a committee convened by the Consumer Technology Association focused on using technology to prevent and control future public health emergencies. Garza said he will specifically look at making data about COVID-19 more streamlined in reporting and testing. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Debate resumes around possible Branson mask order
The Branson Board of Aldermen is scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide if the southwest Missouri tourist destination will become the latest municipality to adopt a mask requirement. A previous discussion brought hours of debate but ended without a vote. Similar disagreements have played out in towns across the state. (Kansas City Star)
St. Louis conservation office to close amid COVID-19 concerns
Following an increase of COVID-19 cases in St. Charles County, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s office there will close once again. (MBA)
Say that again
“It’s been a really big problem because we’re getting slammed from all directions from those who are very scared — ‘Why aren’t you doing this?’ — to those who say that this is a hoax and ‘How dare you tell me to wear a mask, I’m going to do what I want to do.”
That’s Audrey Gough, who has worked at the Shelby County Health Department for 34 years, commenting on the difficulty of communicating with the wider public during the pandemic. She says the work environment she operates in has substantially changed over the years. Public health has become politicized and divisive in the U.S., with social distancing, masks and capacity limits emerging as new flashpoints. Gough says workers like her are trying to focus on educating their communities, but that they sometimes meet stiff resistance. General public distrust of the government has seeped into how people regard public health, local officials say, and that makes it difficult to win people’s trust. As the pandemic goes on and coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state, local health offices are being stretched thin.
Missouri has issued five new medical marijuana licenses, KYTV reports. The licenses went to businesses to create products infused with marijuana. The new sites include two in the St. Louis area, two in the Kansas City area and one in Trenton. Lyndall Fraker, who leads the state’s medical marijuana program, said in a release that his office is working hard to verify locations to keep the program “safe and well-regulated.” That follows recent incidents involving hundreds of patients being approved for fake medical marijuana licenses.
We have seen the videos on social media from over the weekend of bars and nightclubs obviously flouting our mask mandate and social distancing requirements. This is both reckless and unfair to other businesses working hard to do it right. @CityofSTLDOH will be taking action today
— Mayor Lyda Krewson (@LydaKrewson) July 27, 2020
That’s St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, responding to social media posts that showed establishments in the city not enforcing a local mask order. The city says it will shut down businesses caught disobeying coronavirus-related rules, such as capacity limits and mask mandates, St. Louis Public Radio reports. This comes as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announces that, starting Friday, new limitations will be placed on the county. Gatherings will be limited to 50 people, businesses must operate at 25% of capacity and bars must close at 10 p.m. The restrictions will last at least a month. St. Louis has experienced rising case counts of the virus, landing itself on a White House list of 11 cities that need aggressive action to curb coronavirus flares.
Hello, my name is
Right to Start
This advocacy group, started by Victor Hwang, an entrepreneur and former vice president of entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, wants to make entrepreneurship attainable for everyone, Startland News reports. The nonprofit advocates for policies and legislation that support entrepreneurs, and it encourages people to pursue starting a business. Hwang says that community backing is one of the most important factors separating businesses that make it from enterprises that don’t, so advocacy for business founders needs to be stronger.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.