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, 44,285 Iowans have tested positive, up 662 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 473,725 tested. 11 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 865 deaths. Now 32,483 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.
Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds said the fundamentals for her return to learn plan are safety, flexibility and parental control. The Return to Learn plan requires schools to offer a plan for at least 50 percent of learning be in person learning. She said she appreciates school districts, IDPH and the Department of Education for working together to create plans for students to return safely.
She said, online learning is an essential component of returning to schools, but disproportionately impacts underprivileged students. Children are less likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 studies show, she said. They are working with a few districts that did not submit a plan that included 50 percent in person learning. They also released additional guidelines if cases occur. Enhanced hygiene protocols and distancing measures as well as online learning will be a part of education this fall.
Dr. Caitlin Pedati, State Epidemiologist, covered the studies on children and COVID-19 as well as the studies on transmission in schools. She said those 10 and under transmit the virus less and tend to have less symptoms, while those 10-17 have a higher transmission rate. She also went through the process for when notification of positive cases is made to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Dr. Pedati said they will work on contact tracing when positive cases arise, and schools will work closely with Public Health to work together to discuss when exposure of others and who they are, who would have been exposed. Then quarantine would be required for 14 days of those who are exposed. She reiterated that this is a fluid situation and they may need to adjust their guidance in the future as they learn more.
Director of the Iowa Department of Education Ann Lebo, laid out additional information about guidance released yesterday for schools. The positivity rate over the previous rolling 14 days at the county level and absenteeism in a specific school will be the basis for the guidance. The guidance requires that Iowa schools would have to see a coronavirus positivity rate of at least 15% in the county where they are located before they could request to transition a school building or district to fully online learning.
In addition, the guidance provides:
None to minimal community transmission (0-5%): At this level, schools are suggested to continue on-site learning following public health guidance, or hybrid learning as necessary based on parent preference and student quarantine.
Minimal to moderate community transmission (6-14%): Schools are suggested to continue on-site learning following public health guidance, or hybrid learning as necessary based on parent preference and student quarantine.
Substantial controlled community transmission (15-20%): Schools are suggested to follow hybrid learning plans as necessary based on parent preference and student quarantine. Schools that also have 10% absenteeism among students can request the Department of Education to transition to continuous remote learning for up to 14 days.
Substantial uncontrolled community transmission (more than 20%): Schools can request the Department of Education to transition to continuous remote learning for up to 14 days.
Federal Legislation Supplemental IV Timeline: Earlier this week, getting a deal done quickly seemed much more possible. However, after multiple meetings and little to no progress, it’s looking like another week (or even mid-August) before a deal is finalized. The longer negotiations stretch, the harder it will be for the House to keep members in D.C. If a deal doesn’t come together by early next week, the House may recess and call members back. There was some floor action yesterday, with members of both parties attempting to pass by unanimous consent (UC) different coronavirus bills, but don’t expect any package to be passed by UC without a deal being announced.
One rumor that continues to pop up, though in a new iteration this week, is Congress passing a short-term unemployment insurance (UI) extension. We’ve heard that Congress could consider passing a “skinny bill”—which would include a UI extension and a moratorium on evictions—and kick making a deal on other issues down the road. Still, it remains unlikely that Congress moves in this direction.
Process/Politics: Despite Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Secretary Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Meadows meeting multiple times this week (this evening at 8 p.m. most recently), there is still a wide gap between both parties on most issues. Every day that ends without a deal, more pressure builds on Republicans, as Democrats can hang their hat on House passage of the Heroes Act. The main challenge has been the division within the Republican conference. Vulnerable senators feel pressure to get something done, while fiscal conservatives have become increasingly frustrated and vocal within the conference. Republican leadership has indicated that at least 20 Republican senators will not vote for any bill, regardless of its contents. As the bill moves forward, there might not be many additional Republican defectors as vulnerable Republicans will need to vote for something and Senate leadership, including committee chairs, will likely be bought in on the package. However, if the bill gets too big, you could see some more Republicans drop off.
Right now negotiations are between Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Secretary Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Meadows, with Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy notably absent. However, Democratic leadership negotiating directly with the White House has worked in previous COVID-related packages, so hopefully progress can be made. It’s likely that when the parties are close to a deal, McConnell will rejoin negotiations and tie up the final strings.
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, and support for healthcare providers. Where the parties are on liability protections and unemployment insurance remain the largest barriers to a deal.
On Monday, Senate Republicans released an eight-bill package, known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. Its provisions represent the first step in a multi-step process. 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 draft to the final bill, as text has yet to be negotiated with Democrats. The bill was released in sections by various senators. See below for text and summaries of the sections 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.
Note: One Democratic (House) option was advanced in the HEROES Act (extension of the full $600 per-week expansion into Jan/March 2021), while another option gaining increasing momentum would be to tie UI extension to underlying economic metrics to eliminate the need for Congress to act to see future extensions and increases.
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 flexibilities 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 chare (“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 BIE.
$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
Includes provisions relating to securing the critical mineral and rare earth supply chains.
Creates a semiconductor grant program and other onshoring incentives (CHIPS for America Act), and,
Authorizes restrictions on certain non-citizens’ access to research, conferences, and academics,
Creates a federal council focused on oversight of federal grants, national security, and the misappropriation of research and data,
Creates a tax credit for 30 percent of the equipment costs for manufacturing personal protective equipment,
Requires certain products within the Strategic National Stockpile to be produced in the U.S. (U.S. MADE Act),
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 (2): Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) Currently Self-Quarantined (0): 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)
Total Cases 4,280,135 (54,448 new)
Total Deaths 147,672 (1,126 new)