I should have tried these two things seperately. I deleted all "Paired to a previous phone" Bluetooth devices and then turned off Bluetooth and restarted the phone. Apps started updating, although it seemed to be getting slower with each app. Out of curiosity, I turned Bluetooth back on and it kept going, even more noticeably slower. Turned Bluetooth off and waited a while. Latest app took over a minute to go from 99% to 100% and is still sitting there 5 minutes later. Never turned off or adjusted the setting of my VPN during all this, connected to Wi-Fi with over 200Mbps.
This is my new normal. I haven't had less than 50 app needing updates since 2 full OS updates ago.
After typing this , it looks like it's back up to the speed I initially observed. Went from (57) to (54) apps in the time it took to write to this point (I type pretty slow). Maybe just turning off Bluetooth is the answer until all apps are updated. THIS SHOULD STILL NOT BE THE CASE. If Samsung can't replicate the issue, they should ask one or more of the people with the issue to swap phones for a new one. There is another Note 10+ in the house that does not have this problem. That user is a first time Android owner, however. Not sure if that matters, but more data is more data.
Now (50) apps to go.