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.
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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, 271,015 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,995 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,328,323 tested. 64 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 3,653 deaths. Now 222,071 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 12.6% the past 7-day average is 9.7%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 644 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
Currently 28 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
Yesterday at her press conference Governor Kim Reynolds said that the state continues to experience a decline in COVID-19 cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations. Iowa ranked 35 nationally and 39 in average daily for positive cases per 100,000 over the last 14 days. Hospitalizations continue to trend down, approaching pre-November levels. 81 percent who have had the virus are recovered. Cases in long-term care facilities are trending down and staff cases are stabilizing over the last 4 weeks.
More than 8,400 healthcare workers were vaccinated this week. All doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that were scheduled for last week’s shipment were received, she said.
There is good news from Washington DC where Congress finally passed a $900 billion relief package to support American families and businesses, she said. The bill awaits the President’s signature. In addition to direct payments additional unemployment benefits and more funding for forgivable paycheck protection loans, the bill also provides support for broadband, education, vaccine funding and more. The bill also extends the deadline for states to spend the CARES Act funding by one year until December 21, 2021. This will allow Iowa to put the remaining balance of about $47 million to work in programs to continue to make a positive difference for Iowans.
This weekend another milestone in COVID-19 recovery was reached, with the FDAs approval of the Moderna vaccine, the Governor said. This will increase the number doses of vaccine immediately available. Distribution began immediately Friday, and started arriving in Iowa yesterday, she said. Because it doesn’t require ultra-cold storage, it can be more easily distributed to rural areas. All 99 counties will receive an allocation of the Moderna vaccine in this first shipment and will continue to receive it going forward, she said.
As you saw last week, the federal government notified 24 states including Iowa that our vaccine allocation would be less than initially projected, the Governor said. This set off a confusion chain of reactions across the nation, causing widespread concern that we would not be able to meet the immediate vaccination needs of healthcare workers and speculation that we would have to delay long-term care residents and staffs. Even as we were gathering information our intent was to continue moving forward with priority groups, understanding some changes would likely be necessary. We were in contact with our federal partners to understand how Iowa’s allocation would change and how our vaccination plan would have to change. Then General Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Warp Speed, took full responsibility for an unintentional planning error for vaccine doses to be overallocated to some states. The state’s supply was reduced by about 20 percent.
As I mentioned last week, deploying Iowa’s vaccine strategy continues to be a monumental effort at the state and federal level. There are bound to be some bumps in the road, Governor Reynolds said. Within a matter of just a few more months, vaccines will be more widely available, and life will begin to return to normal.
Due to the decrease the federal government is allowing greater flexibility with the long-term care pharmacy program, and they will remain on schedule to begin vaccinating long-term care residents and staff the week of December 28. They will also begin a similar program for assisted living residents. CDC’s vaccinating advisory panel said the next phase should prioritize frontline essential workers including first responders, teachers, and those who work in manufacturing, food and ag and those over 75.
Director of IDPH and Kelly Garcia said healthcare settings including hospitals and clinics will receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine as allocated by local public health authorities. Another key difference between the vaccines is that Moderna has been approved for 18 years and older while Pfizer’s is for those 16 and older. The two vaccines also require administration of the second dose of the vaccine at different intervals.
ACIP is now looking at the next groups to be vaccinated. IDAC, Iowa’s version of ACIP, continues to meet. They met yesterday, and discussed some individuals ACIP did not include in its recommendations who may be at risk including others such as low-income workers with limited access to healthcare, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals with disabilities and community based spiritual workers. The committee discussed sub-prioritization of frontline workers identified by ACIP. They also discussed the need to use data-driven including looking at disease trends, vaccine allocation projections and vaccine uptick. We will continue to provide updates on their discussions and post meeting minutes, votes and final recommendations, Garcia said. So far, she had accepted all their recommendations in full.
We will continue to provide updates to vaccine allocations, but right now they are on track. They have been in close communication with their federal partners, Garcia said.
Garcia said the federal bill congress just passed includes vaccine funding $20 billion for procurement and distribution for vaccines and therapeutics. $22 billion sent directly to states for testing, tracing and COVID mitigation programs. $2.5 billion of that amount is set aside as grants for underserved areas. It targeted $4.5 billion in mental health funding and $9 billion in direct payments to healthcare providers. The bill also included $10 billion in emergency funding for childcare, to provide childcare assistance to families and to childcare providers for additional costs due to the pandemic. The bill has $13 billion in increased SNAP benefits. They are sorting through the bill as to what Iowa’s portion will be, Garcia said.
Yesterday evening President Trump indicated his opposition to the COVID relief package. This update will be published again once the bill is either vetoed or signed into law. Supplemental IV
Timeline/Process/Politics: In a video posted on Twitter yesterday evening, the President came out against the package, asserting that it had unnecessary spending for foreign governments and other programs (not found in the COVID package part of the bill). In the video, he asked Congress to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 and get rid of “wasteful, unnecessary funding.” These statements caught many off guard. Secretary Mnuchin and other White House aides helped negotiate the bill and the President’s spokesperson said on TV at 6 p.m. yesterday that the President intended to sign the bill.
Minutes after the video was released, Speaker Pelosi tweeted that Democrats would re-pass the bill with $2,000 stimulus checks, likely by unanimous consent during a pro forma session on Christmas Eve.
While the president did not explicitly state that he would veto the bill without these changes, a veto could easily be overridden, as the bill passed with veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. However, a pocket veto could kill the bill entirely and cause a government shutdown. Congress is currently operating under a 7-day CR, which runs out at midnight on Monday, December 28. Constitutionally, the President has 10 days (Sundays excluded) to veto the bill (note that the bill has not yet been enrolled and sent to the President, due to its size). Once the bill is enrolled and sent to the President, the 10-day timer begins. If he does not veto the bill in those 10 days, and Congress is adjourned, the bill does not become law.
The current 116th Congress must adjourn to end the session (“sine die”) no later than 11:59pm on January 3. Conceivably, the President could wait until Congress must adjourn, and thus pocket veto the bill. If you count backwards 10 days (excluding Sundays) from sine die adjournment, the package would need to be sent to the President by tomorrow, December 23 to avoid the possibility of a pocket veto. Because of the timing, Congress would not be able to override the veto and thus would need to pass the bill again in the new Congress.
Policy: After facing delays from printing and uploading issues, the text of the end of the year package was released yesterday afternoon. The entire bill includes the 12 fiscal year 21 appropriations bills, the COVID relief package, a tax package, an energy package, the Water Resources Development Act, and other miscellaneous bills. Division M and N of the 5,593-page bill include the COVID package, with Division M dedicated to the package’s appropriations and Division N dedicated to the authorizations. House Appropriations Majority Division-by-Division/Section-by-Section summary of COVID package provisions here. Text here. Highlights and Committee summaries below.
Committee summaries below:
Ways and Means majority Economic Impact Payments FAQ here, summary of health-related provisions in the entire bill here, Unemployment Insurance Section by Section here
Ways and Means minority summary of end of year legislation here
House Agriculture majority section by section here
Division N – Coronavirus Package
Healthcare (Title I) – Senate GOP Policy Committee summary here, Energy and Commerce minority summary here
3.75 percent increase for Medicare Physician Fee Schedule providers through 2021 (Section 101).
Extends temporary Medicare sequestration through March 31, 2021 (Section 102).
The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing section.
$8.75 billion for CDC to distribute to state, local, tribal, and territorial public health agencies for vaccine distribution, $4.5 billion to go directly to public health departments.
$20 billion for BARDA for vaccine and therapeutics procurement.
$3 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
$22 billion in grants to states for testing/tracing/COVID mitigation, $2.5 billion reserved for improve testing/contact tracing in high-risk and underserved populations.
$3 billion for grants to providers for health care related expenses and lost revenue through the Provider Relief Fund.
$4.25 billion for mental health and substance abuse support.
$10 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants for child care providers.
$1 billion for Indian Health Service ($210 million from CDC for vaccine distribution and $790 million for testing/tracing).
Assistance to Individuals, Families, and Business (Title II) – Ways and Means majority UI section by section here, Ways and Means majority Economic Impact Payments FAQ here, Senate GOP UI summary here, Senate GOP UI section by section here, Senate GOP Tax section by section here
$300/week for unemployment insurance through March 14, 2021 (Sec. 203).
Extends both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program (Sec. 201) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program (Section 206):
Increases the maximum number of weeks individuals may receive benefits (for PUA increase is 39 to 50, for PEUC increase is 13 to 24),
Creates a phase out of benefits (allows individuals who have not reached the maximum number of weeks of benefits to continue receiving benefits through April 5, 2021),
Adds documentation requirements for new applicants to PUA, requires states to verify applicants’ identities (Sec. 241, 242).
$166 for direct stimulus payments, $600 for individuals or $1,200 for those filing jointly, with an income phase out at $75,000 for single-filers and $150,000 for those filing jointly (same phase out as CARES). Additional $600 per each child (does not include adult dependents), (Sec. 272).
Retroactively expands eligibility for direct stimulus payments to mixed-status households.
Extends the period by which employers can defer payroll taxes to April 30, 2021 and paid back by January 1, 2022 (Sec. 274).
Allows PPE and other COVID-19 related supplies to be eligible for the educator expense deduction, retroactive to March 12, 2020 (Sec. 275).
Allows expenses paid for with loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to be tax deductible and excludes PPP loans that are forgiven from gross income (Sec. 276).
Extends refundable payroll credits for paid sick and family leave that were included in FFCRA through March 31, 2021, allows self-employed individuals to use 2019 income rather than 2020 income to compute the credit (Section 286, 287)
Small Business (Title III) – Small Business Committee (same for House and Senate) section by section here, Senate Small Business Committee majority summary here, House Small Business majority summary here
$284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, including:
Creates program for businesses to receive a second PPP loan, called “PPP second draw”, and eligible businesses must:
Have 300 or fewer employees,
Have or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan,
Show at least 25% reduction in income over a quarter in 2020 compared with same quarter in 2019.
Maximum loans are $2 million.
Set-asides (which the Secretary can alter after 25 days) for:
$35 billion for first time borrowers, $15 billion of which reserved for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.
$25 billion for second draw PPP loans for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.
$15 billion for CDFIs and MDIs.
$15 billion for PPP loans issued by certain small depository institutions.
Expanded eligibility for news organizations, certain 501(c)(6)s, and Designated Marketing Organizations.
Expands eligible expenses to include software, cloud computing, other HR/accounting needs, property damage not covered by insurance, supplier costs from prior to taking out the loan, PPE and investments the help the loan recipient comply with relevant COVID-19 government guidelines. Expansions are retroactive, except for those who have already had their loans forgiven.
Prohibits use of loan for lobbying activities.
Creates simplified application process for loans under $150,000.
Prohibits entities that receive a grant under the venue grant program from receiving a PPP loan. Prohibits publicly traded companies from eligibility for PPP loans (Section 342).
$15 billion for a new grant program for Shuttered Venue Operators (live events venues, theaters, museums etc.) that demonstrate at least 25% reduction in revenue.
$2 billion set aside for businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees.
First two weeks of the program will only award grants to entities that have seen 90% or greater revenue loss, second two weeks will award grants to entities that have seen 70% or greater revenue loss. After those two periods, grants available to all other entities.
$20 billion for new EIDL grants in low-income communities (Sec. 331).
Transportation (Title IV) – Energy and Commerce minority summary here, Senate GOP Commerce Committee provisions summary here
$15 billion for airline payroll support, $1 billion for airline contractors’ payrolls (Sec. 402)
To receive funding, requires air carriers/contractors recall furloughed employees, provide backpay, refrain from layoffs or furloughs/reducing pay and benefits until March 31, 2021, and not purchase stock buybacks or pay dividends until March 31, 2021 (Sec. 404).
Places limits on executive compensation until October 1, 2022 (Sec. 406).
$2 billion for motorcoach, school bus, and ferry industries.
The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing package.
$14 billion for transit,
$10 billion for state departments of transportation,
$2 for airports and airport concessionaires,
$1 billion for Amtrak.
Banking (Title V) – Financial Services Majority Eviction Moratorium one pager/FAQ here, Financial Services Majority CDFI/MDI provisions one pager here
$26.2 billion for rental assistance to be administered by states (DC treated as a state), territories, and tribes (Section 501).
Eligible households must have a household income at or lower than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), are at risk of housing instability or homelessness, and qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship related to the pandemic.
Priority is given to lower income households and those that have been unemployed longer than 90 days.
Extends CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.
$12 billion for CDFIs and MDIs:
$9 billion dedicated for the Emergency Capital Investment Program for low-cost, long-term capital to depository MDIs and CDFIS (Sec. 522), and
$3 billion for the CDFI fund ($1.25 billion for current fiscal year, of the remaining $1.75 billion, $1.2 billion is reserved for “minority lending institutions”) (Sec. 523).
(Education) and Labor (Title VI) – Education and Labor majority fact sheet here
Waives certain statutory requirements for Jobs Corps students (Sec. 601).
The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing package.
$82 billion for Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts, higher ed.
$4.1 billion for Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund, with a $2.75 billion set aside for private schools.
$54.3 billion for K-12, includes new allowable uses for funds.
$22.7 billion for higher education, including
$20.2 billion for public and private non-profit higher education institutions,
$908 million for for-profit colleges for the explicit purpose of financial aid to students.
$1.7 billion set aside for HBCUs, tribal colleges, MSIs,
$113 million for institutions with unmet needs or exceptions to formula.
$819 million for Bureau of Indian Education.
Nutrition and Agriculture (Title VII) – House Agriculture Committee majority section by section here
Increases SNAP benefit 15% through June 30, 2021. Excludes Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from being counted as income for SNAP.
$614 million for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico and America Samoa.
$400 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) through September 30, 2021.
$175 million for Older Americans Act nutrition programs, including $7 million for tribal programs.
$400 million to pay for milk to be processed into dairy products and donated to non-profit entities (Sec. 762).
Postal Service (Title VIII)
Allows USPS to borrow up to $10 billion from Treasury.
Allows money provided to USPS under the CARES Act to not have to be repaid.
Broadband (Title IX) – Energy and Commerce minority summary here, Senate GOP Commerce Committee provisions summary here
Expands eligibility for rip and replace program (Sec. 901).
Establishes Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at NTIA, appropriates $285 million for a pilot program focused on awarding grants to education institutions and other organizations that serve minority communities (Sec. 902).
$250 million for the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program (Sec. 903).
$3.2 billion to establish an emergency broadband benefit program at the FCC where eligible households receive a discount on internet service and subsidies for internet-connected devices (Sec. 904). Eligible households include those with:
Children who qualify for free/reduced lunch,
Pell Grant recipients,
Recently laid off/furloughed workers,
Individuals who qualify for Lifeline,
Individuals who qualify for low-income/COVID discount programs offered by ISPs.
$1 billion for NTIA grant program for broadband on tribal land (Sec. 905).
$300 million for NTIA grant program aimed at rural areas lacking broadband infrastructure. Program would prioritize projects that would reach the most unserved consumers (Sec. 905).
$65 million for FCC broadband mapping, $1.9 billion for rip and replace.
Misc (Title X)
Extends deadline by which governments must spend the distributed money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to December 31, 2021. Does not add flexibility or additional funding (Sec. 1001).
Recissions of the unobligated amounts at Treasury and Federal Reserve appropriated under the CARES Act. Prohibits Exchange Stabilization Funds from being used to create identical current Fed facilities that received CARES Act support (Sec. 1003).
See below for tax provisions that were included in earlier drafts of COVID legislation that were included in the final bill, though not in the COVID package. Ways and Means summary here.
New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC),
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC),
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) – individuals claiming the 2020 credits are allowed to measure their income on their 2019 return rather than their 2020 return if it would lead to a better credit result.
Permanent expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) including a 4% floor.
Expansion of the CARES Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) (Wyden summary here).
One-year extension of the CARES non-itemizer charitable contribution deduction policy, at the CARES $300 limit for single-filers.
Two-year version of Sen. Scott meals deduction proposal allowing 100-percent deduction for business meal expenses.
Total Cases 17,974,303
Total Deaths 318,569
Total Cases 78,145,073
Total Deaths 1,719,973