IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.
If your company is helping respond to COVID-19, IowaBio wants to know about it. Please, send any information about what your biotechnology company or organization is doing to help, to Jessica Hyland at Jessica@iowabio.org.
If IowaBio can assist you in getting information out, connecting with public officials, or support your company in another way, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Past IowaBio COVID-19 Update newsletters are now available at www.iowabio.org/COVID19 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 45,927 Iowans have tested positive, up 204 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 487,451 tested. 7 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 885 deaths. Now 33,923 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.
Some school boards have openly begun to challenge Governor Reynolds' orders to return to school, which requires a plan for at least 50 percent in-person instruction unless a waiver is granted by the Iowa Department of Education. The Governor released additional guidance last week, which lays out when schools could ask to go to virtual learning. The guidance bases decision-making on countywide positivity rates and school absenteeism. School days that do not meet the Governor’s requirements, would have to be made up. Read more here.
Federal Legislation Supplemental IV Timeline: Progress was made over the weekend on the areas where there’s common ground, but Democrats and the White House are still far apart on key issues. Many are skeptical that a deal will come together before senators leave on Friday (though there are rumors that Senate recess will be delayed). As noted in a Dear Colleague circulated by Leader Hoyer last Friday, Members of the House will be given at least 24-hours' notice before the House will be called back for votes. With where negotiations are now, the earliest we could see a final package would be Thursday or Friday, though it’s more likely to come together next week or later in August.
Politics/Process: Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are still negotiating with Secretary Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Meadows, with Leader McConnell absent. Some have speculated that whatever remaining issues that don’t make it in this next package (reauthorizations, more COVID-19 appropriations) could be renegotiated and possibly added to the September 30 funding bill. There’s a tacit agreement that a continuing resolution (CR) will be passed until after the election (possibly until later in November or even until Congress returns in January). Must-pass reauthorizations (Water Resources Development Act, highway funding) will be added to the CR, so it could end up being a large package.
Policy: There seems to be bipartisan agreement around including increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (and expanding the program to more entities), more funding for schools (though they haven’t agreed on a number yet), and support for healthcare providers. Where the parties are on liability protections and unemployment insurance remain the largest barriers to a deal.
On July 27, Senate Republicans released an eight-bill package, known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. Its provisions represent where most of the Republican conference is at. The bill is around $1 trillion, with a third dedicated to appropriations, a majority of which is under the Labor-HHS subcommittee. Expect significant changes from this package to the final bill, as text is being negotiated with Democrats. The bill was released in sections by various senators. Text, summaries, and highlights below.
American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act (Senate Finance Committee provisions) – text here, section by section here
Extension of enhanced unemployment insurance. After July 31, would provide $200 a week until October, when benefits would then be capped (when combined with state contribution) at 70 percent of an individual’s lost wages.
Another round of direct payments to individuals. Those eligible make less than $75k, are not dependents, and those with a work eligible social security number (i.e. can work in the U.S. legally). An additional $500 will go to taxpayers with dependents (of any age).
Tax provisions, including:
Enhanced employee retention tax credit (from 50 percent of wages to 65 percent);
Adds COVID-19 unemployment recipients as a targeted group to the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC), which provides a tax credit to employers that hire individuals from certain groups;
PPE tax credit (refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of what an employer spends on “employee protection”);
Mandates that through 2024, employees performing work in multiple states will only be subject to income tax in their state of residence; and
Health provisions, including:
Part B premium freeze until 2022;
Extension of telemedicine reimbursement either through 2021 or the end of the public health emergency; and,
Extended timeline for providers to repay Medicare Accelerated and Advance payment loans.
Certain flexibility and limitations on Coronavirus Relief Fund payments to state, local, and tribal governments (no additional funding for state/local/tribal governments):
Extends the timeline for spending the funds to 90 days after the last day of FY21,
Allows states to use the funding to make up lost revenues, and
Prohibits the use of funding for pensions/rainy-day funds.
Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act (Small Business provisions) – Press release here, text here, section by section here, one pager here
Extends the Paycheck Protection Program.
Allows businesses with fewer than 300 employees that had seen revenue decline by 50 percent or more in Q1/Q2 to receive a second PPP loan. Includes a set aside within the program for those with 10 or fewer employees and $10 billion set aside for community lenders.
Expands eligibility to 501(c)(6) organizations that either:
have fewer than 50 employees and limited lobbying activity, OR
are Chambers of Commerce or Destination Marketing Organizations with 300 or fewer employees.
Forgiveness to include other costs like PPE, safety supplies, and other expenses.
Streamlined forgiveness for loans under $150k.
Creation of working capital loan for businesses with fewer than 500 workers and have seen revenue decline by 50 percent or more (as an alternative to PPP second round).
$16 billion for testing (you might see this cited at $25 billion, but that includes unallocated funding from COVID 3.5),
$26 billion forvaccines development distribution (BARDA and CDC),
$25 billion for provider relief fund,
$15 billion for child care (“Back to Work Child Care Grants” one pager here),
$15.5 billion for NIH,
$4.5 billion for SAMHSA,
$3.4 billion to CDC, and
$7.6 billion for Community Health Centers.
$105 billion for Department of Education
$70 billion for K-12, though two-thirds of it will be reserved for aiding schools in reopening and will be rewarded based on certain reopening requirements.
$29 billion forhigher education, though institutions that paid endowment taxes in 2019 can only use the funding for student aid.
$5 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund;
$1 billion for the Bureau of Indian Education.
$20 billion for Agriculture-FDA,
$29 billion for Defense,
$3 billion for Homeland,
$13 billion for THUD, and
$4.4 billion for SFOPS.
Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act (Supply Chain and Research provisions) – text here, section by section here
Requires certain products within the Strategic National Stockpile to be produced in the U.S. (U.S. MADE Act),
Creates a tax credit for 30 percent of the equipment costs for manufacturing personal protective equipment,
Creates a federal council focused on oversight of federal grants, national security, and the misappropriation of research and data,
Authorizes restrictions on certain non-citizens’ access to research, conferences, and academics,
Creates a semiconductor grant program and other onshoring incentives (CHIPS for America Act), and,
Includes provisions relating to securing the critical mineral and rare earth supply chains.
SAFE TO WORK Act (Liability Relief) – Text here, section by section here
Creates liability for a broad range of organizations that mandate plaintiffs show defendants were grossly negligent/engaged in willful misconduct AND violated public health guidelines.
Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act (Health, Education, and Labor Provisions) – text here, section by section here
Includes onshoring manufacturing and stockpile-related provisions,
Requires HHS to issue guidance on how states and tribes are to request and access the Strategic National Stockpile,
Changes student loan repayment options to either be 10-year or income-based (one pager here),
Creates $15 billion childcare grant programs (one pager here), and
Creates scholarship program for emergency student expenses (one pager here).
Supporting America’s Restaurant Workers Act – text here
Business meals deduction increased to 100 percent from 50 percent.
TRUST Act – text here, section by section here, one pager here
Establishes various committees to address the long-term fiscal sustainability of various mandatory spending programs.
The House passed the Democrats’ opening bid for the next bill, the Heroes Act, on May 15. While it’s been over two months since House passage of the bill and the contours of the debate and which issues are most pressing have shifted slightly, it can still serve as a marker of what Senate Republicans will be responding to in their bill. Heroes Act text (as of 5/12/2020) here. Section by section here. One pager here. State and Local one pager here. NCAI’s summary on tribal provisions here. Manager’s amendment here. House Rules Committee report here.
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold) Tested Positive (3): Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) Currently Self-Quarantined (4):Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) Recovered (8): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) Completed Quarantine (39): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
At least 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate - seven Republicans and seven Democrats - have tested positive or are presumed to have had COVID-19 since the novel coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year. This Sunday, Michigan Sen. Tom Barrett (R) announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
The White House on Monday said that randomized COVID-19 testing, which was once voluntary, will now be mandatory for White House staff to "protect the health and safety" of all officials.
The FDA authorized the first two COVID-19 serology tests that display an estimated quantity of antibodies present in the individual’s blood. Both tests are known as “semi-quantitative” tests, meaning that they do not display a precise measurement, but estimate the quantity of a patient’s antibodies produced against infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
To date, the FDA has currently authorized 198 tests under EUAs; these include 161 molecular tests, 35 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests.
HHS, through its top public health officials, released a series of public service announcements (PSAs) and announced over $8 million in digital, radio, and out-of-home advertisements to support a broader Trump Administration effort imploring Americans to donate their plasma and help save lives. The PSA campaign seeks to dramatically increase donations of convalescent plasma by the end of August in the fight against COVID-19.
The NIH is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges associated with COVID-19 testing (which detects SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus). NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative has awarded contracts to seven biomedical diagnostic companies to support a range of new lab-based and point-of-care tests that could significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week as early as September 2020. With national demand estimated to be millions more tests per day above current levels, these technologies are expected to make a significant contribution to expanding the nation’s testing capacity. Read more here.
The Administration for Community Living is conducting a three-part webinar series to explore how the pandemic offers opportunities to rethink and redesign home- and community-based services (HCBS). The first webinar will be August 5 at 2:30 PM and will focus on Supported Employment Services. Register here.
In a hearing before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Response last Friday, NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci testified that the "diversity of responses" from states has inhibited the U.S.'s COVID response in comparison to many European nations, which went into near-total or total lockdown.
The CDC continues to update its dashboard with new guidance documents and details, and I highly encourage exploring the newest toolkits. A few of the most recent additions include:
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Republicans released their $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package, but negotiations have stalled as the two parties cannot seem to agree on any key items.
The expiration of unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans this past Saturday adds a note of urgency to congressional deliberations.
Following months of COVID-19-related hearings in Congress, this appears to be the only one taking place this week:
Thursday (8/6) 2 PM House Oversight, "Challenges to Safely Reopening K-12 Schools."
Updates from the States
Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 4,649,102 total cases and154,471 deathsThe CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
The average weekly COVID-19 death count rose in nearly half of U.S. states this past week, with numerous states - including California and Florida reporting record daily fatalities. The month of July has been the worst on record for new COVID-19 infections in the U.S.
Tropical storm Isaias, which strengthened into a hurricane again on Monday evening, is set to make landfall in the Carolinas around midnight. Experts worry that the storm, which is predicted to cause flooding and wind damage from the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast, will exacerbate the situation in states that are already experiencing resurgent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) gave private schools the authority to decide if campuses should reopen in the fall, overriding a decision by Montgomery County health officials which would have mandated a virtual start to the school year for both the county's public and private schools. As a part of Maryland's Phase 2 of reopening, schools are allowed to reopen with social distancing and other safety precautions.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) said school districts should have flexibility in reopening this fall. Gov. Abbott said that schools will “have until November” to open up for in-person education without jeopardizing their state funding. Beyond that, school districts would need to apply for a waiver that the Texas Education Agency would review on a case-by-case basis.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced new lows for coronavirus cases in the state while condemning irresponsible behavior on the part of young people at parties and in bars and restaurants. On the topic of school reopenings, he said that parents and teachers need to be “comfortable” with the reopening plans, and he urged school districts to start communicating with parents now to answer their questions.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) issued an executive order extending Stage 4.5 guidelines until Aug. 27. The order also extends a moratorium on evictions through Aug. 14. The mandatory mask order for schools has been modified to allow students to remove masks for classroom instruction when they are able to maintain at least 3 to 6 feet of distance between students, based on health officials' guidance.
The National Governors Association asked President Trump to extend deployment authorities for the nearly 30,000 National Guard troops still working on COVID-19 relief missions, saying the support will likely be needed until a vaccine is widely available.
Useful state data:
NPR tracks where coronavirus cases are on the rise.
Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers, and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country.
NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
This resource from Bloomberg Law is a database of State Quarantine and Public Health Laws related to the COVID-19 response.
This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19, and this tracker, created and maintained by MultiState Associates, has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
Finally, this site offers COVID-19 projections assuming full social distancing and can be broken down by state.
In a Monday briefing, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the WHO is continuing to study "the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19." An international team, which will include researchers and scientists from China and around the world, will use WHO groundwork to begin epidemiological studies in Wuhan "to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases," he said.
The British government has procured millions of two separate tests that will be able to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 90 minutes. The tests will be rolled out in hospitals, care homes and labs across the UK next week.
The Brazilian Presidency’s Chief of Staff Office Minister, Walter Braga Netto, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, according to his office.
For the first time since March 16, Portugal has reported no new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s health authorities announced on Monday.
More than half a million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, according to the country's health minister. South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the continent and accounts for half of all reported infections in Africa.
Mexico has become the country with the third highest death toll from COVID-19, with only the U.S. and Brazil recording greater numbers.
Argentina exceeded 200,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, and Colombia set a daily case record, pushing the Latin America region towards a combined 5 million cases.
The premier of the Australian state of Victoria declared a "state of disaster" Sunday, and a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. has been implemented. Only one person per household is allowed to leave home once a day to pick up essential goods, staying within a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) radius of their home.
Russia is planning to begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in October of this year according to a statement from Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. The country has shortened trial approval times and sped up clinical evaluations for COVID-19 vaccine candidates, a move which some health experts could lead to a sacrifice of quality for expediency.
Global Cases: 18,315,281Total Deaths: 694,703
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned in a statement on Sunday that the U.S. is in a new, more widespread phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. "To everyone who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus," Birx said.
Thirty-six crew members and four guests on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19 according to a statement by Hurtigruten, the cruise company. All 158 crew members from the MS Roald Amundsen have been tested after four staff became ill and were found to have the disease on Friday, according to a statement released Saturday by Hurtigruten. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced in a statement on Sunday.
More pro baseball and football players have opted out of their 2020 seasons because of the pandemic. Sunday afternoon, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes dropped out for the season. Saturday, New England Patriots' veteran tight end Matt LaCosse became the eighth player on the team to pull out for the season.
Lord & Taylor, one of America's oldest department stores, has filed for bankruptcy, joining a growing list of stores slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks, also filed for bankruptcy.
Emergency department visits decreased by up to 63.5% during the first onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in five states, while hospital admissions increased by up to 149%, new research shows.
CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released multiple new articles/studies today:
Suggests that children of all ages may be susceptible to COVID-19 infections and may also spread it to others, and it details an outbreak at a sleep-away camp in Georgia last month in which 260 children and staffers — more than three-quarters of those tested — contracted the virus less than a week after spending time together in close quarters.
A study published on Saturday in the Lancet Public Health journal suggests that frontline healthcare workers in the UK and US were at least 3.4 times more likely to report a positive COVID-19 test compared with the general community, even after accounting for differences in testing frequency. The authors say that healthcare systems should ensure adequate availability of PPE and develop additional strategies to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19, particularly those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Science Magazine has a detailed article, published in its July 31st issue, detailing the biological process behind how the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19.
A new study from the University of Bologna - the most extensive ever conducted on SARS-CoV-2 sequencing - shows that the virus which causes COVID-19 presents at least six strains. However, the virus seems to have little variability, a good sign for researchers developing a vaccine.
Some researchers seeking to track down the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus suggest that the virus may not have originated in southwestern China, as originally thought, but rather just across the border in Myanmar, Laos, or Vietnam. Read more here.
As a follow up to an interview last week with ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci clarified that while it is possible to contract COVID-19 through the eye membrane, goggles and other forms of eye shields are not necessary for "the average person". Watch a clip from the original interview here.
A New York Times survey of every public four-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,600 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. You can search by school here.
BIO’s pipeline tracker for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and antivirals is here.
Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
MMWR Weekly COVID-19 Briefing is a weekly podcast to update readers on the latest scientific information from CDC’s COVID-19 response. In each episode, MMWR’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Charlotte Kent provides an overview of the latest scientific information published in MMWR. New episodes are posted every Monday. Listen to episodes here.