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COVID-19 Update
April 16, 2020

IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 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

Governor Kim Reynolds will hold a press conference today from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Johnston, IA at 11:00 a.m. to provide an update to the state of Iowa on COVID-19. That press conference will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page and on YouTube.
 
Yesterday the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was notified of 96 additional positive cases for a total of 1,995 positive cases. There have been additional 407 negative tests for a total of 17,874 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.  According to IDPH, an additional 4 deaths were also reported. There are 171 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, and 908 Iowans have recovered. 

The state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state is now providing demographic information that was not previously provided as well as Iowa’s epidemiological curve.

At her press conference yesterday, Governor Reynolds reported an additional Muscatine county long- term care facility outbreak, for a total of seven long-term care facility outbreaks.

There is also concern over meat processing facilities, and the Governor said they will continue to focus on packing plants and implementing additional measures to ensure workers are healthy and the plants can continue to operate, as they are a critical piece in the food supply chain.

The Governor also spoke about domestic abuse and neglect, and stress on families during this time. The Governor said anecdotal information shows these issues are happening right now. Kelly Garcia, Director of the Department of Human Services, spoke about the response of her agency’s response and child welfare. More Iowans will be seeking assistance with food, medical care and other assistance. Not everyone can telecommute and be with their children at home and may not have access to the internet for school activities and also may not have access to food. She recognized the additional economic insecurity caused by the mitigation measures. She spoke about the Department’s response for supports across health and social resources. She said DHS is paying close attention to abuse reports, which have dropped, during this time. This could be due to the fact that mandatory reporters are not seeing at risk children and vulnerable adults. Urged that if those in the community or other organizations become aware of abuse they are asked to pay attention and report imminent danger to 911 and call the abuse hotline 1-800-362-2178.

The Governor reported that the food bank of Iowa had many new volunteers and donations. The Food Bank is doubling its distribution routes.

Sara Reisetter Deputy Director of IDPH said they are analyzing the data on minority populations who are testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate, and examining causes such as higher instance of underlying health conditions, higher housing density, higher percentages working in businesses that remain open. They are trying to reach out to businesses to provide information in other languages, and encouraging them to reach out to the Health Department for additional support.

The Governor said they are basing assumptions about when the peak will be in Iowa by looking at other states and what they’ve experienced so far, and have identified the middle to end of April. They are now doing more surveillance testing, so they might see the case count come up, because they might be testing those who are not showing symptoms. She answered questions about how much testing will help determine how to reopen. She said they are making progress and are testing more, and that 1 in 160 Iowans have been tested. They are continuing to look for ways to increase testing capacity and also working to stand up additional teams to do more contact tracing which is very valuable for mitigating spread.

The Governor answered a question about her Economic Recovery Task Force. She said it will consist of agency heads who are most involved with COVID-19 response, and they will determine what metrics they need to make decisions on rolling back some of the mitigation measures. Phase two will be bringing in business and industry to give input into what opening back up looks like.

Federal Legislation

Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief

Timeline: There was some hope earlier this week that a deal could come together before the Senate’s pro forma session today at 3pm, but as of right now, nothing is expected to move. While there is no deal on the immediate horizon, discussions will continue through the weekend. Each side seems to be waiting to see which party will pay the political price for inaction. There remains a sense of urgency to act, particularly given extended time period before Congress returns to session and the announcement that the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funding this evening. Soon after the announcement, Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy released a statement similar to the one released over the weekend, placing blame on Democrats and their insistence on inclusion of other priorities.  
 
Process/Policy: While the public line is that negotiations “remain stalled”, it seems like quiet conversations are continuing about what Republicans may be willing to add to a potential package that provides the additional funding for PPP. Democrats are still pushing for the items outlined in the statements made by Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer.
  • Leader McConnell may have some fractures in his caucus on additional funding and wants support from the Administration for any possible deal before he goes to sell his members on the deal.
  • For background, Republicans have supported simply adding more funding to the SBA program, while Democrats have advocated for the inclusion of funding for hospitals and state and local governments among other things. Republican bill (as of 4/9) here. Democratic bill (as of 4/9) here. Summary of the Democratic bill (as of 4/9) here.
  • Something else to watch: Reps. Chris Pappas and Brian Fitzpatrick will be leading a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting the inclusion of language in the next coronavirus relief bill that would make 501(c)(6)s eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. They sent out a Dear Colleague requesting co-signers last week. A similar letter for 501(c)(3)s is in the works. Similarly, Speaker Pelosi sent around a Dear Colleague yesterday encouraging members to weigh in with the Federal Reserve in favor of including nonprofits and universities in its Main Street Lending Program.
Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0.

Timeline/Process: The work on the bill continues and committees/members are pressing forward, with new requests from offices still coming in. Timing is still very up in the air. The House announced earlier this week that the House will now reconvene May 4, instead of April 21, as was originally intended. There’s an awareness that timing may coincide with when D.C. may reach the peak, so floor schedules are could shift further. It’s unclear whether the scope of the interim package—like whether additional funding for hospitals and state and local governments is included—will affect the timing and scope of the next package.

Policy: While the next package will likely stay within the outline of CARES, including plus ups for programs funded and created under the bill, the increasingly grave impacts of coronavirus may push lawmakers to consider the inclusion of other provisions and the creation of new programs. The bill Speaker Pelosi introduced while CARES was being negotiated included multiple provisions and funding increases that did not make it into the final bill. Some of those provisions and increases are being considered for the next package.
  • Earlier today, Senate Democrats simultaneously released a report on the lack of testing capacity in the United States and a white paper outlining strategies to build capacity and develop a national strategy on the issue. See here for the report. See here for the white paper. See here a one pager. It is unclear in which supplemental a policy proposal regarding testing would be included. 
Supplemental V – Economic Stimulus

While Chairman DeFazio (T&I) has said he aims to introduce an infrastructure bill by May, that timeline is looking increasingly optimistic. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is moving forward with that timeline and is aiming to have the bill be as comprehensive as possible as a starting place. A large package like this needs to be legislated in regular order, so moving forward while remote is a challenge. WRDA may be included in the package but is moving through an appropriations-like process already, with requests coming in from various offices.
 
Passed Legislation

Supplemental III – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

After a unanimous vote by the Senate, the House passed the bill on March 27 and the President signed the bill into law shortly after. Final text here. Democratic summary here. Republican section by section here.

New information and guidance:
  • 4/15 – Treasury press release on lapse in funding for PPP here
    • Note: “By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations.”
  • 4/13 – Treasury issued an updated FAQ on the PPP here
Title I – Small Business Loans
  • The Treasury Department has released affiliation guidelines for the small business loan program. 
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule last week on the small business provisions in the bill. Treasury and the SBA announced earlier this evening that the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funding yesterday evening. Press release here. The SBA has been approving approx. $40 billion/day. See here for a report from SBA on approvals through 4/13.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
    • Updated (as of 4/13) FAQ here
Title II – Individual and Business Tax Relief
  • IRS guidance on deferral of payroll taxes here
  • House Ways and Means factsheet on Economic Impact Rebate portal here
  • IRS has indicated that the earliest Americans could receive relief payments from CARES is this week. Those who will receive their relief through paper checks could take as long at 20 weeks to receive payment.
  • IRS’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here.
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
Title III – Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • HHS issued guidance last Friday announcing the formula and mechanism in which hospitals will receive the first $30 billion in relief funding. The money will not have to be repaid and can be used for a variety of uses. The first tranche will go to hospitals based on their Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. As total FFS payments were approx. $484 billion in 2019, a provider can estimate their payment by dividing their 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by 484 and multiply that ratio by 30. If the providers total 2019 Medicare FFS payments were Y, then (Y ÷ 484) x 30 = amount of relief. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
    • HHS is working on developing a plan in the next seven to ten days for how to disburse another $30 billion for Medicaid-heavy providers and potentially a focus on pumping money to providers in hotspots.
  • Factsheet on accelerated and advance payments for providers/suppliers here
  • Secretary DeVos indicated last week that she would be moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in CARES for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The grants can be used by college students for technology, course materials, food, housing, and healthcare. DeVos will be distributing the funding to colleges, which will then distribute the aid among students. The Department did not issue guidance on how colleges are to structure the program, but colleges will be required to sign a form certifying that the funds were used in accordance with the law. See here for the specific allocations for each college.
Title IV – Economic Stabilization
  • The Treasury Department released guidance on payroll support to airline industry employees, and on loans to the airline industry and businesses critical to national security. Guidance for payroll support here. Guidance on procedures and minimum requirements for loans here. Treasury press release here.
  • Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
Division B – Appropriations
  • Last week the FCC announced a two-part, $200 million COVID-19 telehealth program. The press release may be found here; and the FCC order approved on Wednesday (4/8) can be found here.
  • On Monday (4/13), Treasury officially launched its web portal for payments to state, local, and tribal governments. Treasury announced that eligible government entities must provide required information by Friday, April 17 to receive payment within the 30-day window allowed under CARES and those that miss that deadline may not receive funding. Submission page here. Some highlights from the announcement below:
    • Funds are only allowed to be used for expenses which:
      • Are necessary expenses during the coronavirus emergency;
      • Were not accounted in the most recent budget (as of March 27, 2020);
      • Were incurred between 3/1/2020 – 12/30/2020.
    • Eligible local governments are those below the state level (county, municipality etc.) with a population higher than 500,000. See here for data sources and the distribution methodology.  See here for a list of eligible local government units.
    • Amounts paid to governments will be based on population and the amounts allocated to states will be reduced by the total amount provided to local governments in the state. 
    • Payments to Tribal Governments will be determined by the Treasury Secretary in consultation with the Interior Secretary and Tribes. Consultation has not yet been completed.
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)

The Senate passed the House bill on March 18 and the President signed the bill into law that evening. Bill text here. Factsheet here. Bill section by section here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here.
 
Supplemental I –Coronavirus Supplemental

Signed by the President March 6. Text here, summary here.
 
Congress

Session: The House announced on Monday that it would not reconvene before May 4. D.C. is currently under a stay-at-home order, and Maryland and Virginia have similar orders in place. In a Dear Colleague last week, Speaker Pelosi advised members to keep their schedule flexible and said that, in order to make up for lost time, the House may meet during weeks previously scheduled as District Work Periods. The Senate is in recess until April 20.

Appropriations/NDAA: Subcommittee markups have officially been postponed. While timing continues to be unclear, House Appropriations Committee (HAC) will likely stick to the original subcommittee order of markups, just shifting everything back by 2-3 weeks. As of yesterday, HAC majority had distributed 302bs to clerks, but has not shared with the minority. HAC subcommittees are continuing to work at basically the same schedule they had planned before COVID-19 and believe they can get to a 95% solution once members get back in town. The House may try to hold markups soon after whenever the next package is passed, when members have returned D.C. The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has floated two different allocations to subcommittee clerks, the differentiating factor between the two allocations being how VA Choice is treated. SAC has given subcommittees direction to stick with the original plan of marking up all of the bills in June.

This year’s NDAA markup has been “indefinitely postponed”. Reps. Adam Smith and Thornberry (HASC Chair and RM) sent a letter to the committee members saying that they will schedule the date of the markup once the House schedule for the next few months becomes clear. SASC Chairman Inhofe has said he aims to writing the FY21 NDAA by the end of May but is flexible considering the circumstances.

Remote voting: Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell have both voiced opposition to members’ voting remotely, but as the pandemic makes travel more treacherous, in-person voting has become more difficult. Remote voting is being discussed to some extent in both chambers. The House Committee on Rules Majority released a staff report on voting options. The report discusses unanimous consent, proxy voting, as well as the logistics (and security concerns) of remote voting. Additionally, the House Sergeant at Arms and the Attending Physician released guidance for voting in-person, including procedures for voting in shifts for roll call votes. Leader McConnell, as of right now, is not supportive of any form of remote voting. 
 
Other Floor Action: The House issued guidance last week indicated that Floor materials are to be submitted through a secure email address instead of dropped off at the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms. Members are still allowed to drop off materials in person. Speaker’s Dear Colleague on the guidance here

Hearings and Meetings: While most hearings and markups for the next week or so have been cancelled, some committee staff are working to see whether holding hearings virtually is possible. The Senate Rules Committee Democrats released a one-pager guidance on “paper hearings”, which stated “paper hearings” are not official hearings. The Senate Sergeant at Arms is exploring technology that would allow for remote hearings, though Leader McConnell remains opposed to any form of remote voting. Under current rules, the House does not allow virtual hearings. Chairman McGovern has been contemplating changing the rules on this and could issue guidance soon. The House Administration Committee is working on a report on best tools to be able to do virtual meetings. The Senate has advised offices to avoid using the video conferencing app Zoom over data security concerns. The Senate has not yet officially banned the application though.

Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)

Tested Positive (1): Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (1): Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Recovered (6): 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)

Completed Quarantine (36): 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)

Other Federal Actions
  • Senators released two documents today, A Roadmap to Reopening by Ensuring a Speedy and Ubiquitous Lab Testing System (RESULTS) and a report from DPCC: U.S. Lags the World in Testing, Leads the World in COVID-19 Cases. The reports outline Democrats' proposals to rapidly expand testing capacity. Democrats note in the report that the U.S. is testing around one in every 273 people for COVID-19, while South Korea and Germany have been testing one in every 100 people.
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sent a letter to Philips North America Corporation requesting information and documents regarding its foreign sales of ventilators, after entering into contract with HHS to provide ventilators to the U.S. stockpile. In the letter, Rep. Krishnamoorthi says Philips has been selling ventilators to foreign clients at much higher prices than what it would have received from HHS.
  • Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a letter signed by 37 senators to President Trump urging him to automatically extend work authorizations for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and other impacted immigrants.
  • Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma today urging the agency to release demographic data on the health outcomes of COVID-19 based on race, ethnicity, and gender.  His letter comes after multiple data sources continue to show that COVID-19 disproportionately affects individuals from racial and ethnic minority communities. In New York City, Latino and African American residents had double the age-adjusted death rates as compared to white residents. In Chicago, 64.6 percent of deaths and 49.6 percent of total cases are among African American residents, despite African Americans only making up approximately 30 percent of the city’s population.
  • Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the Trump Administration to provide relief for local farmers who are struggling as the nation works to combat the spread of COVID-19. In a letter sent to USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue, the senators urged USDA to ensure that a portion of the $9.5 billion they secured in the CARES Act goes to local farmers who sell directly to consumers, schools, institutions, food hubs, regional distribution centers, retail markets, farmers markets, and restaurants.
  • The CDC published two new articles in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 and Transmission of COVID-19 to Health Care Personnel During Exposures to a Hospitalized Patient.
  • The Washington Post published a copy of a CDC/FEMA framework for reopening the country which includes multiple phases. The first is to roll out a national communication campaign and community readiness assessment until May 1st. From then until May 15th, the government would ramp up manufacturing of testing kits and PPE, and increase emergency funding. Various reopening would start after that, based on location.
  • The CDC has posted multiple new guidance documents on its COVID-19 dashboard, including a social media toolkit, guidance for caring for someone at home, and information for people at higher risk of getting sick.
  • There are multiple upcoming CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) calls and webinars. Registration is not required. View the schedule here.
  • CMS announced Medicare will nearly double payments for certain lab tests that use high-throughput technologies to rapidly diagnose COVID-19. High-throughput lab tests can process more than 200 specimens a day using highly sophisticated equipment that requires specially trained technicians and more time-intensive processes to assure quality. Medicare will pay laboratories for the tests at $100 effective yesterday.
  • The latest CMS news updates can be viewed in the daily roundup.
  • NIH recently conducted a study that showed N95 respirators can be decontaminated effectively and maintain functional integrity for up to three uses. The experiment tested four decontamination methods: vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), 70-degree Celsius dry heat, ultraviolet light, and 70 percent ethanol spray. Of those, VHP was the most effective decontamination method, because no virus could be detected after only a 10-minute treatment. UV and dry heat were acceptable decontamination procedures as long as the methods are applied for at least 60 minutes. 
  • Through HRSA, HHS has awarded $90 million for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients across the country to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. This funding is provided by the FY20 CARES Act. This funding supports 581 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients across the country, including city/county health departments, health clinics, community-based organizations, state health departments, and AIDS Education and Training Centers, in their efforts to prevent or minimize the impact of this pandemic on people with HIV.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 605,390 and 24,582 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that the state would be providing $125 million in disaster relief assistance for undocumented immigrants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Gov. Newsom said the state will provide $75 million in disaster relief assistance which will be supplemented by $50 million from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. The $75 million Disaster Relief Fund will support undocumented Californians who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief as a result of their immigration status. About 150,000 undocumented adults in the state will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household.
  • Yesterday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards postponed Louisiana’s Presidential Preference Primary election until July 11th.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District’s public health emergency and closure of schools until May 15th and announced that other COVID-19 restrictions in the city, including nonessential business closures, a stay-at-home order, and a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people are also extended.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home policies led to protests in the streets of Lansing. Two conservative groups, Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund, organized the demonstration, dubbed “Operation Gridlock.”
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new order today which states New Yorkers will have to wear masks while in public spaces where they cannot maintain social distancing, effective Saturday. While disobeying does not come with a penalty, Gov. Cuomo said that the state could make it a civil violation if people do not comply voluntarily.
  • Gov. Cuomo also announced that New York would donate 100 ventilators to Maryland and 50 to Michigan.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan emphasized that it is still too early to reopen the state but said he will begin rolling out a plan to reopen parts of the state economy as conditions allow. Gov. Hogan outlined four things that must be in place before Maryland could begin lifting lock down orders: a dramatic ramping up of testing; a fully implemented surge expansion in hospitals; the acquisition of sufficient PPE; and a quadrupling of the state’s contact tracing workforce to deploy 1,000 people to identify and track every coronavirus patient in the state.
  • Today, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine approved the release of 105 nonviolent inmates, increasing the number of early releases in the state to about 500 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system. All individuals were previously scheduled for release within 90 days, and all will undergo testing before being released. Last week, more than 300 inmates were released.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam extended his shutdown order for nonessential businesses until May 8th, two weeks longer than the original order. The state’s stay-at-home order is still in effect through June 10th.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced that the Mississippi Home Corporation has a program to help those at risk of losing their homes due to job loss as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The program can provide short-term help with a one-time payment or up to six months of mortgage payment relief while a homeowner tries to find work.
  • Johns Hopkins University launched its newest 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.
  • Useful state data:
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • 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.
International Affairs
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s governing party won in a landslide victory today. Voters were encouraged by the government’s response to COVID-19 and their efforts to control the spread of the virus. It is the first time in 16 years that left-leaning parties ​secured a parliamentary majority.
  • Around the world, opinion polls show boosts in approval ratings for leaders who were unpopular before the pandemic, like Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy and Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria. Even those who were already highly regarded, like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, have seen an increase in their approval ratings.
  • WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is “reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of U.S. funding” and is working with partners to fill financial gaps. “The United States has been a long-standing and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so,” he added.
  • A study by researchers at the London School of Economics found that as many as half of COVID-19-related deaths in Italy, Spain, France, and Ireland were in nursing homes.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the first steps for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, with some nonessential stores to open next week and schools to start again next month. The social distancing standards of only being allowed to meet with one non-family member will stay in place until May 3rd.
  • Guatemala’s health minister retracted a claim he made yesterday that more than half of all deportees from the U.S. carry the virus. Instead, Hugo Monroy said 75 percent of deportees on a single flight in March had tested positive for COVID-19, which concerned the Guatemalan government.
  • President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro continues to reject the urges from his health minister and country’s governors to take strong action against COVID-19, arguing that any form of a shutdown would create severe economic hardship and unemployment. Bolsonaro continues to interact with supporters on the streets, often drawing crowds.
  • Denmark reopened schools and day care centers today.
  • Romania is the first E.U. nation to ban the export of agricultural goods (specifically barley, oats, corn, rice, wheat flour, oilseed, and sugar) to countries outside the bloc in order to secure domestic supply during the pandemic.
  • Over 650 French sailors from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle have contracted Covid-19, according to the French defense ministry.
  • Belgium now has the second highest death rate in the E.U. for COVID-19. With a population of only 11.5 million, the country’s 4,440 deaths from the virus puts their death rate at 383.1 per million residents. They now trail only Spain.
  • Global Cases:  1,914,916               Total Deaths:  123,010
Lifestyle and Economy
  • Although the standard has been to keep six feet of space between individuals to stop the spread of COVID-19 germs, researchers from M.I.T. found that a sneeze could send particles as far as 26 feet. This 3D simulator from the New York Times gives an incredible breakdown of how particles travel between humans.
  • Amazon said that it might temporarily halt its operations in France after a court ruled that it had failed to adequately protect workers from the virus and that it must restrict deliveries to food, hygiene, and medical products until it addressed the issue. Amazon contested the findings of the ruling.
  • Based on the news that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was talking of easing its COVID-19 lockdown, and after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York had made advances on the virus testing front, the Dow fell 1.85 percent and both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq dropped, too.
  • College Board announced it will cancel the SAT college admission test on June 6th because of COVID-19. The idea of an at-home test format has been floated but is an unlikely alternative unless schools stay closed in the fall.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of clinical trials to grind to a halt, stalling research into cancer, strokes, dementia, and more. Read about it here.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • The New York Times has started its own tracker of cases in the U.S. to fill in the gaps left by agency data.
  • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found here (music), here (tech), here (general), and here (sports/entertainment).
Helpful Articles/Media
Please contact me directly with any questions and I would be happy to assist.

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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