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COVID-19 Update
October 6, 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, 93,380 Iowans have tested positive, up 537 from our update Friday morning, with a total of 827,172 tested. 11 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 1,398 deaths. Now 72,139 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 11.3% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 8.6%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

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.

Currently 13 counties are above 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days:

Lyon 28.9%
Sioux 26.5%
Taylor 24.7%
Page 23.5%
Fremont 20.5%
O’Brien 19.0%
Delaware 19.0%
Emmet 17.0%
Osceola 16.3%
Henry 16.0%
Crawford 15.7%
Harrison 15.4%
Plymouth 15.2%

Washington, D.C.
  • President Trump is back in the White House to recover after leaving the Walter Reed medical center yesterday evening. Last Friday, President Trump announced that he and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19. Over the weekend, the President was checked into Walter Reed to receive treatment, including remdesivir and a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail being developed by the drug maker Regeneron. 
  • Yesterday, CDC issued updated guidance to its How COVID-19 Spreads website, which includes information about the potential for airborne spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The new language cites recent evidence that the virus can spread further than six feet indoors.
  • The White House has reportedly blocked the FDA's new proposal of stricter guidelines for a COVID-19 vaccine. Key staff involved in the decision are objecting to provisions that would push approval of a vaccine past Election Day. The FDA is still looking to ensure that vaccines meet the stricter set of guidelines and is sharing the updated standards with an outside advisory committee of experts that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. 
  • NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has partnered with Matrix Medical Network to help more than 20 academic medical centers involved in NIAID’s COVID-19 Prevention Network establish mobile health clinics at universities, hospitals and other locations across the U.S. Mobile clinics will serve communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington.
  • The FDA posted a transcript of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn's remarks to the National Consumers League last week about the vaccine review process.
  • FDA awarded a new research contract to the Stanford University School of Medicine to perform an in-depth analysis of tissue samples to learn more about how SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—affects different systems in the body, and identify immune correlates. This regulatory science project could potentially help inform development and evaluation of medical countermeasures for COVID-19.
  • As of yesterday, 270 tests are authorized by FDA under EUAs; these include 213 molecular tests, 52 antibody tests, and 5 antigen tests.
  • OSHA published additional frequently asked questions and answers regarding the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19. OSHA’s new FAQs provide information to help employers apply the agency’s existing injury and illness recording and reporting requirements to the coronavirus. In particular, the FAQs provide guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, and clarify the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.
  • OSHA issued Temporary Enforcement Guidance for tight-fitting powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) used during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • President Trump signed an EO to address the negative impact of prolonged shutdowns on mental and behavioral health and increase suicide prevention efforts. The President is establishing a cabinet-level working group to assess the mental health needs of the most vulnerable, including the elderly, minorities, children, veterans, and people with disabilities. The order also focuses on providing grant funding to support mental health treatment services including telehealth, peer-to-peer, and safe in-person therapeutic services.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and White House Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany have tested positive for COVID-19. Others within the Administration who have tested positive are listed here
  • After ongoing negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin, sharp disagreements remain about the main issues in an additional stimulus package. Earlier this week, House Democrats had released an updated version of the Heroes Act, their $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. The text of revised version of The Heroes Act is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. Additional information on the state and local relief provisions is here.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 7,396,730 total cases and 209,199 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Only three states – Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina – are reporting a decline in new COVID-19 cases compared to last week, as the country hit its highest daily rate of new cases in almost two months.
  • More than 3,000 new cases were announced in Wisconsin in a single day for the first time. The state set also single-day records for deaths and hospitalizations. Its test positivity rate reached 20 percent, a loud signal that the outbreak in the state has spun out of control.
  • State health officials in New Jersey have contacted more than 200 people who attended a campaign fundraiser at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster on Thursday, hours before the president announced he had COVID-19, as they try to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’s (R) Safe Recovery EO will be in effect until Nov. 11. While a statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, the EO will require teachers and students to wear masks at school, and will require fans to wear masks at sporting events. Restrictions on bars and restaurants remain the same. The EO does ease some restrictions, such as increasing attendance at K-12 extracurricular activities to fifty percent of seating capacity.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is refusing to allow New York City to close nonessential businesses in nine hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens where the coronavirus has spiked, pre-empting a plan announced the day before by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Commissioner of Health will send an order to COVID-19 hot spot local governments today establishing a framework for reporting their enforcement activities and setting specific consequences for failure to enforce the State Department of Health Emergency Regulations and the governor's EOs related to social distancing, mask compliance, and capacity limitations. If local governments do not enforce these legally binding requirements, they will be in violation of the order and can be subject to fines.
  • Schools in nine New York City Zip codes where coronavirus positivity rates have increased will close today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today, just days after the city reopened all of its public schools.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) extended his state of emergency declaration by 30 days.
  • Gov. Carney (D) also announced pop-up school testing locations as many schools prepare to return to school for in-person learning as part of their hybrid return-to-school plan.
  • After testing positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 23, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) and First Lady Teresa Parson have both fully recovered and returned to their regular schedules.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an EO moving the Upper Peninsula region back to phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan.
  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that he will be issuing an emergency directive lifting restrictions on youth and adult sports and adjusting the COVID-19 statewide guidance on sports. The new directive and accompanying guidance will allow for practice, training and competitions for non-contact and minimal-contact sports statewide for both youth and adult sports. 
  • San Francisco will start offering free COVID-19 testing to children on Tuesday in the city’s well-known Mission District to curtail health and financial disparities. California’s new health equity metric determines how different counties are able to reopen. Those with glaring disparities among neighborhoods might not be allowed to move forward with reopening and must vow to move resources for testing and contact tracing into neighborhoods deeply impacted by the coronavirus.
  • 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.
    • 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, and this tracker, created and maintained by MultiState Associates, has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
International Affairs
  • View the WHO's Weekly Operational Update here and the Epidemiological Update here
  • Britain’s government has launched an investigation into why a technical issue with its test-and-trace program had not been identified sooner. The country reported a jump in COVID-19 cases after a technical issue meant that more than 15,000 test results had not been transferred into computer systems, used by contact tracers, on time.
  • The Brazilian military has wrapped up a three-week operation that provided medical care to the Amazon’s Guajajara tribe hit by COVID-19, in response to criticism from Human Rights Watch and the Indigenous Missionary Council that Brazil was not protecting vulnerable indigenous people from the pandemic.
  • Around 1 in 10 people worldwide may have contracted the coronavirus, the director of the WHO’s Emergencies Program, Mike Ryan, said Monday, citing the organization’s “best estimates.”
  • Iceland announced new coronavirus-related restrictions during the weekend, following a spike in cases in recent weeks despite the island’s early success in limiting the spread of the virus. The government ordered bars, gyms and some other businesses to close and is limiting most gatherings to 20 people, down from prior restrictions that capped events at 200.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday that she will self-quarantine until Tuesday, after being informed that she had “participated in a meeting last Tuesday attended by a person who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19.” 179 European Commission staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
  • As confirmed new coronavirus cases have climbed to more than 10,000 per day in Russia, Moscow schools will switch to a distance-learning format just one month after classes resumed.
  • All bars in Paris and surrounding areas will close starting Tuesday for a period of at least two weeks amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in France.
  • Ireland’s government has rejected a surprise recommendation from its National Public Health Emergency Team to go into lockdown and will instead tighten current COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Malaysian prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin will self-quarantine for 14 days after a minister who attended a high-level government meeting to discuss coronavirus developments on Saturday tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Iran’s COVID-19 crisis worsened yesteray, with a record number of deaths and new infections, as the capital, Tehran, went into partial shutdown for a week.
  • Argentina has the world’s highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests, with nearly six out of 10 testing positive, a reflection of low testing levels and loose enforcement of lockdown rules.
  • Authorities in the northwestern Spanish region of Castilla y León have announced that the cities of Palencia and León will be placed in partial lockdown for two weeks beginning Tuesday following a surge in cases.
  • New Zealand will lift restrictions on Auckland, its most populous city, from midnight on Wednesday, joining the rest of the nation. Restrictions had been reinstated after a cluster of infections emerged, but after the city reported no new infections for 10 consecutive days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that a second wave there had almost certainly been “eliminated.”
  • Global Cases: 35,527,480 cases       Total Deaths: 1,044,882 deaths
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • A new article in Science Magazine's Letters section takes a closer look at airborne transmission of the coronavirus. The authors point out that aerosols containing infectious virus can also travel more than 2 meters and accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor air, leading to superspreading events. They suggest that public health officials should add clear guidance about the importance of moving activities outdoors, improving indoor air using ventilation and filtration, and improving protection for high-risk workers.
  • Another study suggests the length a person speaks is a more important factor in droplet spread than has been discussed in social distancing conversations thus far.
  • An MMWR article points to increasing evidence that children and adolescents can efficiently transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Between July and August 2020, four state health departments and the CDC investigated a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred during a 3-week family gathering of five households in which an adolescent aged 13 years was the index and suspected primary patient; 11 subsequent cases occurred.
  • Based on data from all 50 states and D.C., the authors of a recent study found a gradual but steady decline in viral transmission rates during the eight weeks immediately preceding relaxation of physical distancing rules. Almost immediately after those rules were relaxed, most states reversed course. Eight weeks after restrictions were lifted or loosened, only nine of 51 still had low rates of transmission. The investigators previously reported that statewide physical distancing measures were associated with a reduction in the growth rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and a short-term reduction in COVID-19 related deaths.
  • In an article published in Behavioral Science & Policy, New York University and Yale University researchers report that women have practiced preventive practices of physical distancing, mask wearing, and maintaining hygiene to a greater degree than men. Women were also more likely to listen to experts and exhibit alarm and anxiety in response to COVID-19.
  • A team of scientists at the University of Vermont, working in partnership with a group at the University of Washington, has developed a method of testing for the COVID-19 virus that doesn't make use of these chemicals but still delivers an accurate result, paving the way for inexpensive, widely available testing in both developing countries and industrialized nations like the U.S., where reagent supplies are again in short supply. The accuracy of the new test was evaluated by a team of researchers at the University of Washington led by Keith Jerome, director of the university's Molecular Virology Lab, using 215 COVID-19 samples that RT-PCR tests had shown were positive, with a range of viral loads, and 30 that were negative. It correctly identified 92 percent of the positive samples and 100 percent of the negatives.
  • British company Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas in the U.S., said it would temporarily close all 663 of its movie theaters in the U.S. and Britain. The move is expected to affect 40,000 employees in the U.S. and 5,000 in Britain.
  • 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
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • 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.
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 Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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