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COVID-19 Update
April 20, 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.
 
As of yesterday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 389 additional positive cases for a total of 2,902 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,214 negative tests for a total of 21,648 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. An additional 1 death was reported bringing the total to 75.  198 Iowans are currently hospitalized, and 1,171 Iowans have recovered. 
 
261 or 67% of those 389 additional positive cases can be attributed to surveillance testing of meat processing facilities. That includes over 500 completed surveillance tests of Tyson employees and over 500 completed surveillance tests of National Beef employees, for a total of 84 positive and 177 positive respectively. 
 
On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was notified of 181 additional positive cases for a total of 2,513 positive cases. There were also an additional 10 deaths reported that day.
 
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 Friday’s press conference the Governor said the Department of Public Health is working to conduct testing and contact tracing of Tyson plants experiencing outbreaks.

She spoke about the efforts they will explain further this week, to expand test capacity in Iowa by increasing the number of tests, both diagnostic or serologic tests.

The Governor said as they look at going forward we will need to balance the health of Iowans and the health of the economy. Will be assembling a group of business and industry stakeholders to participate in her task force that will look at reopening the economy. They want to stabilize, recover and grow the economy, mitigate a resurgence, and protect the most vulnerable. She said the plan they are already discussing for Iowa aligns well with President Trump’s guidelines.

On Friday Governor Reynolds recommended that schools stay closed for the remainder of the school year. School districts must provide distance learning opportunities to students. By July 1, a “return to learn plan” must be submitted by each district.

Federal Actions
  • The National Institutes of Health and the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) are bringing together more than a dozen leading biopharmaceutical companies, the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to develop an international strategy for a coordinated research response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The planned Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership will develop a collaborative framework for prioritizing vaccine and drug candidates, streamlining clinical trials, coordinating regulatory processes and/or leveraging assets among all partners to rapidly respond to the COVID-19 and future pandemics. This is part of the whole-of-government, whole-of-America response the Administration has led to beat COVID-19. Read more: NIH to launch public-private partnership to speed COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options
  • CMS announced new regulatory requirements that will require nursing homes to inform residents, their families, and representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. Additionally, CMS will now require nursing homes to report cases of COVID-19 directly to CDC. The information must be reported in accordance with existing privacy regulations and statute. Finally, CMS will also require nursing homes to fully cooperate with CDC surveillance efforts around COVID-19 spread.
  • CMS has issued new guidance to re-open health care systems with low incidence of COVID-19.
  • President Trump signed a new Executive Order: National Emergency Authority to Temporarily Extend Deadlines for Certain Estimated Payments.
  • The CDC has posted multiple new guidance documents on its COVID-19 dashboard, including guidance for handling COVID-19 in correctional and detention facilities, FAQ for health care professionals and the newest travel guidelines.
  • There are multiple upcoming CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) calls and webinars. Registration is not required. View the schedule here.
  • FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn issued a statement about serological test validation and education efforts.
  • House and Senate leadership continue to engage in negotiations about additional supplemental funding packages (COVID 3.5, COVID IV, and COVID V), and seem to have come to an agreement about replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said he was hopeful the Senate could pass legislation as soon as today and that the House would take it up for a vote as early as Wednesday morning, but nothing has been formally agreed upon or introduced at this point. The COVID 3.5 bill would likely include something in the ballpark of $250-300 billion for the PPP, $50 billion for the SBA’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing.
  • Reps. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) remain the only members of Congress to have tested positive for COVID-19 (or be presumptive positive).
Updates from the States
  • Governors across the country have indicated they will not be reopening their states until they can prove a decrease in deaths and cases with adequate testing.
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 690,714 and 35,443 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • Twenty-five youths who are being held at a juvenile detention center in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Richmond is the largest at a youth detention facility in the country, and people are calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to release people from the center to further prevent the spread of the virus.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that New York state will begin antibody testing thousands of residents this week to try and determine the breadth of the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Cuomo said a test was approved by the FDA and that testing will take place aggressively.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced the approval of West Virginia’s requests to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households. This will allow the state to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. West Virginia’s SNAP participation is nearly 300,000 individuals, almost 150,000 households, and totals nearly $400 million annually in federal funding. 
  • Starting tomorrow, Vermont contracting companies, garden-supply stores, small construction crews and small offices will be allowed to operate with certain restrictions.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order that reopened outdoor recreational businesses, including golf courses, bait shops, public and private marinas and outdoor shooting ranges. The order still requires residents to adhere to social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC.
  • New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have all reopened marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use.­­­
  • An analysis of the blood of some 3,300 people living in Santa Clara county in early April found that one in every 66 people had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). The researchers estimate that between 48,000 and 82,000 of the county’s roughly 2 million inhabitants were infected with the virus at that time, which is a pretty sharp contrast with the official case count of some 1,000 people reported in early April.
  • More than 2,000 people gathered at the Washington State Capitol to challenge the state’s stay-at-home mandates. Protestors did not wear masks and generally gathered in close quarters. Gov. Jay Inslee responded by saying, “I support free speech, but crowd counts or speeches won’t determine our course. This isn’t about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians.”
  • The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has created a website to assist those who likely qualify for the $1,200 stimulus checks — but may have been ineligible for an automatic deposit due to a lack of federal tax return information. Many low-income Americans lack the information because they don’t meet the federal filing threshold of $12,000 for individuals or $24,000 for married couples.
  • Useful state data:
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • 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.
    • This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
    • 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
  • The U.S.-Canada border restrictions will be extended for another 30 days.
  • India has taken their lockdown in stride, with volunteer virus patrol squads popping up everywhere and neighborhoods imposing extra rules and sealing themselves off. However, the term “social distancing” has caused lower castes to be shunned even more than usual, and people are taking the lockdown very seriously. In one case, in Delhi, a son turned in his own father for stepping outside. In another, in a West Bengal State, some families who wanted to maintain social distancing asked their loved ones to sleep in trees.
  • About 100,000 people in Bangladesh ignored a nationwide lockdown to attend the funeral of Maulana Jubayer Ahmed Ansari, a senior member of an Islamist party, amid fears that the virus could spread quickly through the densely populated country.
  • French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said today that the country’s lockdown had slowed COVID-19 infections but that the health crisis is not over and life is unlikely to return to normal for quite some time, even after restrictions are officially lifted on May 11th.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to support demonstrators in his country who are protesting to demand an end to business shutdowns and quarantine guidelines imposed by governors around the country.
  • Chile is set to become the first country to issue “immunity cards” to those who have recovered from the coronavirus, allowing holders to return to work, despite questions about whether those who have recovered are in fact immune, how long any immunity might last, and the accuracy of antibody tests. To qualify, Chileans have to take a test that shows they have antibodies for the novel coronavirus. Those who have had the disease must be free of symptoms for at least 14 days — or 28, if they have a compromised immune system. Under those criteria, 4,338 people are eligible.
  • Britain recently said the millions of rapid tests it had ordered from China were not sensitive enough to detect antibodies except in people who were severely ill.
  • Rather than a peak — which would be followed by a sharp decrease in casualties and cases — Italy, Spain and France seem to have reached a high plateau that is slowly decreasing over time but still threatens to rebound. The three countries are devising plans to exit their lockdowns, which have been extended into May.
  • Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, extended a nationwide lockdown on Sunday for an additional two weeks but said that mines in the country could reopen, citing “the need to keep the economy running.”
  • At least 40 staff members in Afghanistan’s presidential palace have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to isolate himself and attend events via video conference.
  • Global Cases:  2,241,359               Total Deaths:  152,551
Lifestyle and Economy
  • The U.S. has seen a rollout of blood tests for coronavirus antibodies in recent weeks. The tests, which are meant to detect past exposure and possible immunity, rather than current COVID-19 cases, have been widely viewed as crucial tools in assessing the reach of the pandemic and reopening the economy. Unfortunately, the tests are proving to be problematic and not as reliable as scientists had hoped.
  • New data show accommodation and food service firms received less than 9 percent of the money from the SBA’s PPP program, about $30.5 billion, though they have suffered the largest job losses of any industry during this recession. Construction firms received the largest share, at just over 13 percent, or about $45 billion.
  • Several public school districts in the U.S. are now feeding adults and sending days’ worth of food home for entire families. It is estimated that the nation’s 12 largest school districts will spend $12 million to $19 million through the end of June to meet the demands of their pandemic meals operations.
  • In Hollywood, shooting of TV shows and films is not expected to resume until August at the earliest, in part because of the time it will take to reassemble casts and crews after COVID-19 subsides. Hollywood supports 2.5 million jobs, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, and many of the workers are freelancers, getting paid project to project.
  • Walmart said that it had hired 150,000 workers since March 19th, and it pledges to hire 50,000 more. The retailer said it had received more than a million applications since its initial hiring announcement. The new workers will be hired on a temporary basis as many have been furloughed from other companies and are just looking to bridge the gap until they return to their original jobs.
  • Roughly 33,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay reduced. Some publications that rely on ads have shut down. The New York Times is tracking media layoffs.
  • Americans can track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank-account information to get their money faster via direct deposit on a new IRS website.
  • 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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