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COVID-19 Update
December 1, 2020
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.

Iowa Update

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 230,898 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,922 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,215,670 tested. 27 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 2,427 deaths. Now 137,430 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 19.7% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 19.0%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 1,172 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 84 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.

Washington, D.C.
  • The GAO published a Report to Congressional Committees,"COVID-19: Urgent Actions Needed to Better Ensure an Effective Federal Response." The report examines the federal government’s continued efforts to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and makes 12 new recommendations to federal agencies and congressional consideration on topics including medical supply shortages, COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, nursing home care, assistance to individuals and businesses, and program integrity. 
  • VRBPAC will meet in open session on Dec. 10 to discuss EUA of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. You can tune in here starting at 9 AM. The group will meet again on Dec. 17 to discuss the Moderna vaccine. 
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at CDC held a meeting on Nov. 23 during which they discussed the phased allocation of COVID-19 vaccines. You can view meeting materials here
  • Today, Dec. 1, ACIP is holding an emergency virtual meeting at 2 PM to vote on the COVID-19 vaccine allocations. The webcast is available here
  • Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force, has resigned from his post in the Trump Administration.
  • Here is the most recent COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
  • The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 materials and resources on their dashboard. To point to just a few:
  • The FDA issued guidance on the use of dry heat to help support the single-user reuse of certain particulate filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), such as N95 respirators, by health care personnel when there is a limited supply of respirators during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The FDA will host a virtual Town Hall for SARS-CoV-2 test developers. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for SARS-CoV-2. The Town Halls will take place:
    • Dec. 2, 12:15 PM 
    • Dec. 9, 12:15 PM
    • Dec. 16, 12:15 PM
  • NIAID is hosting a virtual workshop on Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 on Dec. 3 and 4 to summarize existing knowledge on post-acute manifestations of COVID-19 and to identify key knowledge gaps. The first day will include an overview of the current challenges, talks on clinical observations (both US and international), and some insights from the patient's perspective. Day one will then switch to pathogenic features of coronaviruses as well as host immunological responses, and will end with a series of talks on post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 as reported to date in various focus areas. The second day will start with a talk on the intersection of social determinants of health and race/ethnicity on post-acute COVID-19 sequelae and the charge to the breakout groups, who will dive deeper to identify key knowledge gaps regarding the sequelae in various focus areas.
  • No new Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 since last week. 
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 13,295,605 total cases and 266,051 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • In the month of November alone, the U.S. recorded more than 4.1 million cases of COVID-19 and 25,500 deaths.
  • There are more than 93,000 people hospitalized across the country – a new all-time high, twice as many as there were on Nov. 1, and triple the number on Oct. 1.
  • As daily COVID-19 deaths rise to levels not seen since early in the pandemic, nine states have hit a grim marker: more than one COVID-19 death for every 1,000 residents.
  • Rhode Island is set to open two field hospitals for non-critically ill COVID-19 patients to lessen strain on existing hospitals.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said hospitals across the state will reduce elective surgeries to ensure there is room for coronavirus patients. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has jumped 29 percent in the past week.
  • In Kansas City, Kansas, hospital and nursing officials said they fear there will not be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the metro area if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked.
  • On Sunday, California became the first state to report over 100,00 cases in a week. The state’s ICUs could be overloaded by the middle of December, and its hospitals could be dangerously close to full by Christmas, according to current projections.
  • Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country, entered a new shutdown Monday. The stay-at-home order bans nearly all public gatherings and prohibits people in different households from getting together, even in private. While it’s less severe than the statewide shutdown in March, Los Angeles’s order is the strictest in California.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) urged hospitals to form plans in case of staff shortages, develop emergency field protocols, and prepare to add 50 percent of bed capacity as his state topped 3,500 hospitalizations over the weekend, a level not seen since May.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that he would begin to allow the city’s youngest students and those with special needs to return to classrooms beginning next week, abandoning a previous plan that forced the entire school system to close 10 days ago. The move, which will be accompanied by ramped-up testing, only impacts a fraction of the more than 1 million public school students in New York City, home to by far the largest school system in the nation. About two-thirds of families opted for full-time virtual learning.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced the formation of a back-to-school working group that will assist the governor and the state in planning for the safe return of students to the classroom in January 2021.
  • Schools in Florida will remain open for in-person learning next spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said during a Monday press conference. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising across the state.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) declared a new public health emergency as his state’s hospitals are operating at or very near full capacity and health care providers are struggling to keep up with the demand for care. Gov. Evers also issued a new face mask order: Wisconsin residents ages five and older are required to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household or living unit.
  • Several other governors extended COVID-19 emergency-related orders. Gov. Polis signed an EO extending the state’s disaster declaration; Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) formally extended his State of Emergency declaration another 30 days; Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed two EOs extending his state’s public health emergency and COVID-19 restrictions; Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) extended her State of Civil Emergency through Dec. 23; and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an EO extending his state’s Public Health Emergency.
  • Gov. Murphy said Monday that New Jersey will limit all outdoor gatherings to 25 people beginning Dec. 7 to stem an ongoing surge of cases — and an expected spike after the Thanksgiving holiday. New Jersey will also suspend all indoor youth and adult sports, including practices and competitions, starting Saturday through Jan. 2. In New Jersey, hospitalizations have increased 60 percent in the last two weeks, and deaths have increased by 78 percent.
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced that an aggressive surge of COVID-19 cases across all regions of the state has made it necessary to reimpose Phase 2 mitigation measures.
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the state will transition to a tiered county-by-county COVID-19 risk system on Dec. 2, enabling local communities to shed burdensome restrictions as soon as public health data shows successful containment of viral spread.
  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced Nevadans must always wear face coverings – whether indoors or outdoors – when around individuals outside of their household.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) tightened mask-wearing requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly across his state.
  • A petition pleading Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R) to implement a mask mandate has gathered about 3,500 signatures as of Monday morning, as the state’s average number of daily deaths hovers just below the record and infections continue to be reported at alarming levels.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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. NPR's map can also be used to monitor you state's heat wave. 
    • 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 series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
International Affairs
  • Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
  • WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus warned Monday that the upcoming holiday season could provide opportunities for the spread of COVID-19 and that many people needed to reconsider their plans.
  • Ghebreyesus also warned that deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Monday warned that misinformation and mistrust could hinder efforts to distribute a coronavirus vaccine around the world, even as countries scramble to secure doses for their populations.
  • Russia has delivered the first known batch of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for civilian use to a hospital just south of Moscow, which said it began vaccinating the local population last week. Coronavirus cases have surged in Russia since September, but authorities have resisted imposing a lockdown and have said that targeted measures are enough to cope with the crisis.
  • Russia plans to begin mass trials of its second coronavirus vaccine, EpiVacCorona, on people over the age of 18 on Monday.
  • Vietnam has confirmed its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in nearly three months.
  • England’s month-long lockdown appears to be paying off as new coronavirus infections have apparently fallen by about 30 percent.
  • Turkey is imposing its strictest lockdown since the start of the pandemic. Beginning Tuesday night, everyone will be required to stay home from 9 PM to 5 AM on weekdays and around the clock on weekends. People older than 65 or younger than 20 will be barred from using public transportation. They are already under restrictions that allow them out of their homes for just three hours a day.
  • Beginning Friday, pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes in Wales must stop selling alcohol and close by 6 PM daily, and movie theaters and bowling alleys must close for at least two weeks.
  • Starting Wednesday, Hong Kong will limit gatherings to two people, close karaoke lounges, playgrounds, and swimming pools, and instruct civil servants to work from home.
  • Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen has banned wedding parties and gatherings of more than 20 people after fifteen people traced back to one person tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, has imposed stricter social distancing measures including restricting opening hours and capacities for bars, restaurants, and shopping malls.
  • Thai authorities said Monday that they have launched a large-scale contact tracing effort after three recent travelers tested positive for the coronavirus in northern Thailand.
  • Children in Iraq have started returning to school for the first time since late February, with social distancing measures in place and schools operating six days a week.
  • The WHO delivered 15 ventilators to hospitals in Gaza on Sunday as the Palestinian territory suffers a rise in COVID-19 infections.
  • At least six inmates at a Sri Lankan prison were killed and 35 were wounded Monday while protesting the lack of infection-control measures at the facility.
  • France’s highest court is ordering the government to rethink a 30-person limit on church services, saying in a statement released Sunday that the restrictions are out of proportion with the potential risks of in-person worship.
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has agreed to create 19 storage sites for medical equipment across Germany to avoid future shortages of masks and other PPE seen at the start of the pandemic.
  • Oman will resume granting tourist visas to people visiting on trips arranged by hotels and travel companies after they were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Colombia will keep its land and river borders closed until Jan. 16 to stem the spread of COVID-19.
  • Taiwan will restrict the number of Indonesian workers coming to the island beginning this week, following a rise in coronavirus infections among migrant workers arriving from the southeast Asian country.
  • Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, Croatia introduced stricter limits on gatherings and public transport, and shut gyms, bars, and restaurants. On Monday, it presented a package of laws that includes fines for anyone violating the new restrictions, and financial aid for struggling businesses. Five ministers in the Croatian government have contracted COVID-19 since a wave of the pandemic hit Croatia in late October.
  • Pope Francis has canceled a ceremony that traditionally begins Rome’s Christmas season on Dec. 8 at the Spanish Steps due to coronavirus restrictions.
  • Global Cases: 63,347,492          Total Deaths: 1,470,769
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • According to data from HHS, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country now report having a critical shortage of staff. Based on their data, only 11 people who received two doses of the vaccine developed COVID-19 symptoms after being infected with the pandemic coronavirus, versus 185 symptomatic cases in a placebo group.
  • Moderna announced they will be submitting an application for EUA for their COVID-19 vaccine, which has an efficacy of 94.1 percent. 
  • After facing questions about methodology and results of its late-stage study, AstraZeneca's chief executive said the company is likely to run an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine using a lower dosage.
  • A model developed by CDC scientists predicts that the actual number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. reached nearly 53 million at the end of September and could be approaching 100 million now.
  • The Association of University Centers on Disability is providing answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine distribution considerations for the disability community. The FAQ includes information on the approval, manufacturing, allocation, and distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccines, The document also includes additional vaccine resources from the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and links to federal, state, and local public health resources.
  • A paper published in the International Journal of Infectious diseases provides information for the first time on the toll of COVID-19 on health care workforces across 37 countries. The data, from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Middle Eastern nations highlight gaps in access to personal protective equipment, training, and in protocols for donning and doffing protective gear, the authors say.
  • A new survey in London found that cancer researchers fear advances for patients could be delayed by almost a year and a half because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Some disabilities make it difficult or impossible to wear a face mask and some individuals with mobility/movement disorders have difficulty putting on, adjusting, and/or removing a face mask without assistance. An upcoming Georgia Tech webinar outlines CDC’s face mask guidelines and explores solutions to challenges some people with disabilities experience in attempting to follow the guidance. Participants will receive tips, resources, and guidance for wearing face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • In a recent survey by the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teachers’ union, 28 percent of educators said the coronavirus had made them more likely to leave teaching or retire early.
  • Thousands of A.A. and similar meetings are now occurring virtually. Though online rehab rose as an emergency stopgap measure, people in the field say it is likely to become a permanent part of the way substance abuse is treated. Being able to find a meeting to log into 24/7 has welcome advantages for people who lack transportation, are ill, juggling parenting or work challenges that make an in-person meeting tough on a given day and may help keep them more seamlessly connected to a support network. Experts also say online meetings can be a good steppingstone for people just starting rehab.
  • A Pennsylvania state senator learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19 while meeting with President Trump on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
  • A Singaporean woman has given birth to a child with coronavirus antibodies months after contracting the virus herself.
  • The NFL fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 and stripped them of a seventh-round draft pick for violations of the league’s COVID-19 protocols during a postgame locker room victory celebration without masks.
  • The Denver Broncos had no eligible quarterbacks on Sunday as all had either tested positive for COVID-19 or had been in close contact with a player who had tested positive. 
  • Several groups, including the American Medical Association, are calling for coronavirus vaccines to be given to inmates and employees at prisons, jails, and detention centers, citing the unique risks to people in confinement — and the potential for outbreaks to spread from correctional centers, straining community hospitals.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. BIO’s pipeline tracker for vaccines, treatments and antivirals is here.
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints 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.
Helpful Articles/Media
Sincerely,
Jessica

Jessica Hyland, J.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Biotechnology Association
Cell: (515) 822-1315
Office: (515) 327-9156
Fax: (515) 327-1407
jessica@iowabio.org
www.iowabio.org
Copyright © 2020 Iowa Biotechnology Association, All rights reserved.


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