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.
The overall number of vaccines administered is 496,981 an increase of 9,700 since yesterday, with 245,865 receiving their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 125,558 receiving their second dose. To find vaccine providers in your county, click here or scroll to the bottom of the vaccine dashboard.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard.330,430 Iowans have tested positive, up 622 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,528,641 tested. 26 additional death were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 5,263 deaths. Now 305,270 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 7.3% and the past 7-day average is 5.6%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 235 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. Currently 1 (of 99) county is at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
Governor Reynolds will hold a press conference from Iowa PBS at 11 am today. The event will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page.
Timeline/Process: Last week, House Committees released and marked up their sections of the reconciliation package. On Thursday, the House Budget Committee will markup the package, but the priority is putting all the pieces together, not altering provisions. Any changes to the package will be made as it goes through Rules Committee before hitting the floor. The House is aiming for a floor vote on the full package at the end of next week, with votes possibly going into the weekend. The hope is to have a vote on the Senate floor the week of March 1. It’s expected that the Senate will make changes to the bill and will require the House to revote before it goes to President Biden. With the Senate focused on impeachment and partisan tensions high, bipartisan conversations have fallen off. It’s looking increasingly likely that the next COVID bill will be a fully partisan bill (the first partisan COVID bill, if passed).
Politics: After rumors last week that House leadership was considering removing $15 minimum wage provisions from the package, Speaker Pelosi rebutted those rumors in a press conference last Thursday, saying the bill the House sends to the Senate will have $15 minimum wage included.
There’s still some hesitancy around certain pieces of the bill being ruled germane under the Byrd Rule. While Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders has been pushing the argument that the $15 minimum wage would have more budgetary effects than past provisions deemed Byrd Rule compliant. CBO scores don’t necessarily determine what is germane under the Byrd Rule, however. It should be pointed out that the Senate parliamentarian can be overruled with 51 one votes, though it is unclear if that will be necessary or possible. Other budget experts have seemed hesitant to see appropriations (discretionary spending) pass through the reconciliation progress. There’s still significant pieces of the package that might have to come out in the Senate if deemed noncompliant with the Byrd Rule.
Policy: House committees marked up their sections of the bill last week. See below for highlights and links to summaries, one pagers, and text.
Ways and Means: press release here (with links to text and section by section summaries), Joint Committee on Taxation summary here
$1,400 stimulus checks, with same income phase out as the most recent package ($75 per year for single filers, $150,000 per year for married couples) (Subtitle G).
$400/week federal unemployment insurance through August 29, 2021 (Subtitle A);
Expands eligibility and increases credit for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC) to $3,000 per child, and allows families to claim up to half their child care expenses in the Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDCTC) (Subtitle G).
Extension of the employee retention credit (Subtitle G).
Exempts EIDL grants and Restaurant Revitalization Grants from tax (Subtitle G).
Increases ACA subsidies and caps premiums at 8.5 percent of income, temporary subsidy of COBRA continuation coverage for those who have lost their job-based insurance (Subtitle F).
Energy and Commerce: more details specific to health response funding are here, section by section in the committee memo here, public health text here, Medicaid section text here, CHIP section text here, other provisions text here
$7.5 billion for vaccine distribution, and $5.2 billion for vaccine supply chain.
$50 billion for testing expansion, including tracing, mutation identifications, investments in data infrastructure, and global health.
$8 billion for investments in the public health workforce.
$9 billion for public health investments like CHCs, Nurse Corps Loan Repayment, and HHS to purchase testing and PPE.
$6 billion for the Indian Health Service and tribal health programs.
$4 billion for mental health and substance abuse, including $3.5 billion for SAMHSA, public awareness campaigns, block grant and community-based grants, youth mental health services, and behavioral health workforce training.
Requires Medicaid coverage and CHIP coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, matched at 100 FMAP.
Provides incentive for states to expand Medicaid by increasing FMAP by 5 percent for two years.
Creates $7.6 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund focused on distance learning.
Oversight and Reform: one pager here, committee print here
$350 billion for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, with nearly $200 billion dedicated for states and DC, $130 billion for local governments, $20 billion for tribes, and $4.5 billion for territories.
Money can be used to offset lost revenue.
Education and Labor: press release here, fact sheet here, section by section here, text here
$128.5 billion in grants for elementary and secondary school reopening and stabilization.
$39.6 billion for higher education emergency relief fund.
Increases the federal minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025, phases out the tipped minimum wage by 2027, phases out and eliminated sub-minimum wage.
$150 million for worker protection ($75 million for OSHA).
$14.9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDGB) program.
Extends the 15 percent increase in monthly SNAP benefits.
Assistance for funeral-related expenses to individuals and households affected.
$30 billion for targeted support of public transit agencies.
$8 billion for airport assistance.
$3 billion for airline payroll support, with certain requirements for airlines to receive funding.
Financial Services: committee print here, section by section in the committee memo here, text here
$10 billion for the Defense Production Act.
At least $19 billion for emergency rental assistance, $5 billion for emergency assistance to those at risk or experiencing homelessness.
Almost $10 billion for Homeowner Assistance Fund, which includes emergency utility assistance.
Agriculture: text here Veterans Affairs: text here, section by section here
Members of Congress Affected by COVID-19
New additions in bold. As of January 15, the below list only includes members of the 117th Congress and thus is not cumulative across Congresses. Tested Positive Recently (0): Died from COVID-19 (1): Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) Recovered from COVID-19 (68): Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico at large), Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Brian Steil (R-WI), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-TX), Rep. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Ken Calvert R-CA), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) Currently Self-Quarantined (0): Completed Quarantine (52): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), 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), 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), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
The CDC on Friday released highly anticipated guidance for reopening K-12 schools. The indicators and thresholds in the operational strategy replace the core indicators in the previous Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making. A comparison of the former and new indicators and thresholds is provided here. The guidance, as anticipated, was met with mixed reviews from stakeholders who do not believe the guidance goes far enough, to critics who feel this is either long overdue or overreaching.
COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20 percent to 13.5 million doses this week. This announcement followed a letter from the National Governors Association sent yesterday, asking President Biden "for enhanced reporting and coordination between federal and state governments on COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts."
The CDC has published new science briefs, including on the transmission of coronavirus in K-12 schools and on options to reduce quarantine, here.
The CDC is organizing a virtual National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Feb. 22- Feb. 24 that will bring together practitioners from national, state, tribal, local, and territorial levels who are engaged in vaccinating communities across the nation.
The FDA posted the webpage, COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Surveillance, which provides an overview of the Agency's active and passive systems used to monitor the safety of authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is conducting these surveillance efforts in collaboration with the CDC, CMS, the VA, and other academic and large non-government healthcare data systems.
Last week, the FDA issued an EUA for a monoclonal antibody combination for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age or older weighing at least 40 kilograms) who test positive for coronavirus and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19.
331 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under EUA. These include 247 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 70 antibody tests, and 14 antigen tests. There are 37 molecular authorizations that can be used with home-collected samples. There is one molecular prescription at-home test, one antigen prescription at-home test and one over-the-counter (OTC) at-home antigen test.
The FDA informed the drugmaker Moderna that it can put up to 40 percent more coronavirus vaccine into each of its vials. A 14-dose vial load could increase the nation’s vaccine supply by as much as 20 percent.
The most recent COVID-19 Science Update from the CDC is here.
The CDC has published and updated a number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can keep track of vaccinations here. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
The DoD has put about 3,600 service members on orders to be ready to deploy around the country to help with mass vaccination efforts.
U.S. Navy officials announced that three sailors aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19.
HHS and the White House COVID-19 response team have released the weekly state profile snapshot. The purpose of this report is to develop a shared understanding of the current status of the pandemic at the national, regional, state, and local levels.
FEMA launched its first mass COVID-19 vaccination sites in Los Angeles and Oakland today. Inclement weather delayed the opening of similar sites in Texas.
Updates from the States
Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are27,542,421 total cases and485,070 deaths.The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
The country has averaged around 91,000 cases a day over the last week, down from about 250,000 at the January peak.
Officials in Ohio discovered a data reporting error that resulted in around 4,000 deaths not being announced when they occurred. The state announced large single-day death totals on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and it is unclear whether more are expected.
Rhode Island has one of the country’s highest rates of known cases over the last week and over the whole pandemic. It is also struggling in vaccinations, reporting the lowest percentage of residents receiving a first dose of any state.
Connecticut’s Department of Public Health released data showing how vaccines in Connecticut have been administered throughout the state across race and ethnicity and pointed to several other steps being taken to address disparities in vaccine administration.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s (D) administration announced the state is deploying three Disaster Survivor Assistance teams throughout the state to serve as community outreach specialists at county-run COVID-19 vaccination sites.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced six new regional vaccination sites across the commonwealth and said vaccines will now also be available at mobile clinics, 10 Kroger stores, 15 Walmart stores, and 125 pharmacies, including Walgreens and Good Neighbor independent pharmacies. In total, there are more than 150 vaccination sites in Kentucky, in addition to local health department vaccination programs.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services outlined a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers to receive vaccine eligibility beginning with anyone working in child care or in Pre-K -12 schools on Feb. 24.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed a proclamation extending Louisiana’s modified Phase 2 guidelines, which include restrictions such as a statewide mask mandate, for another 21 days. The new order is set to expire on March 3, 2021.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that the state will no longer require self-quarantine for visitors or New Mexicans arriving into the state from “high-risk” states.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that closing times for restaurants and bars will be extended from 10 PM to 11 PM statewide beginning Sunday, Feb. 14.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that, beginning this week, outdoor contact sports will be permitted to resume with health and safety protocols in place based on county risk level. In Lower Risk and Moderate Risk counties, practices and games for outdoor contact sports, including high school football, can resume following health and safety guidance to be issued by the Oregon Health Authority.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that five new regions have met the metric requirements to progress to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan, starting this weekend.
A winter storm has caused the cancellation of Missouri’s COVID-19 mass vaccination events, delays of vaccine shipment in Florida and Texas, and the closure of multiple COVID-19 vaccine sites in Alabama and Ohio.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) opted against extending the state's COVID-19 disaster declaration but issued a directive that calls on state government to continue following all policies that were in place under the disaster declaration until the state decides which policies to keep in place. Gov. Dunleavy also announced that the state will no longer require travelers to have a negative COVID-19 test when arriving in the state.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has issued an EO modifying sanitation guidance for businesses and events in accordance with the latest data about COVID-19 spread. The order also adds a requirement for restaurants, non-critical infrastructure businesses, and events to ensure their ventilation systems operate properly. Critical Infrastructure businesses are encouraged to ensure proper ventilation as well, and all Georgia businesses and events should increase air circulation and purification as practicable.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) lifted the statewide mask mandate that had been in place since July.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced today the state has confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa, B.1.351.
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 your 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.
More than 71.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and more than 39.6 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
In an average of Axios/Ipsos polls taken in January and February, 74 percent of Democrats said they'd either been vaccinated, or were extremely or very likely to get vaccinated as soon it's available to them. Just 51 percent of Republicans said the same thing. Independents were in the middle of these two groups at 61 percent.
Researchers at the NIH say the humidity created inside the mask may help combat respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. A recent study, led by researchers in the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), found that face masks substantially increase the humidity in the air that the mask-wearer breathes in. This higher level of humidity in inhaled air could help explain why wearing masks has been linked to lower disease severity in people infected with SARS-CoV-2, because hydration of the respiratory tract is known to benefit the immune system. The study published in the Biophysical Journal.
A new Johns Hopkins data tool helps people with disabilities determine when they qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine and compares how different states prioritize the disability community in the vaccine rollout. Created by researchers, students and advocates who themselves are disabled and have personally experienced how inequitable and inaccessible the pandemic response has been, the COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Dashboard launched to not only help the disability community get vaccinated, but also to arm policymakers with data to improve the system.
New data show the pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities and created additional challenges for women, especially those with children, in research fields. In some fields, the proportion of female authors on preprints, submitted manuscripts, and published papers dropped during the first few months of the pandemic. Mothers also suffered a 33 percent larger drop in research hours compared with fathers, according to a global survey of 20,000 Ph.D. holders published as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper last month.
British government scientists are increasingly finding the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain to be deadlier than the original virus. The British government did not publicly announce the updated findings, which are based on roughly twice as many studies as their earlier assessment and include more deaths from cases of COVID-19 caused by the new variant, known as B.1.1.7. It posted the document on a government website on Friday and said that it had been considered at a meeting of government advisers the day before.
At least 32 million of the 142 million BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states starting last year weren’t used as of early February, according to a Wall Street Journal review of their inventories.
The Biden administration extended a federal moratorium on home foreclosures for another three months and expanded assistance for people behind on their mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic. Homeowners will also have more time—through June 30—to enroll in a program to request a pause or a reduction in mortgage payments.
Spending by consumers who make less than $60,000 a year jumped by more than 20 percent in the week that ended Jan. 10, the week after the U.S. Treasury Department began electronically sending stimulus payments of $600 per adult and $600 per child for individuals with adjusted gross incomes under $75,000, according to the research group Opportunity Insights’ tracker of figures from Affinity Solutions.
The Polish government announced that a COVID-19 strain found on a Polish mink farm can be directly transmitted from the animals to humans.
Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park that tested positive for COVID-19 last month have fully recovered.
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.
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.
The WHO has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, meaning the vaccine can be rolled out globally and participate in the Covax program that aims to bring vaccines to poorer countries.
Johnson & Johnson has submitted its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to the E.U.’s drug regulator for authorization. The vaccine could be approved by mid-March if it meets criteria for safety, efficacy, and quality. It would be the fourth vaccine to receive approval in the E.U.
Colombia, which has had the second worst COVID-19 outbreak in Latin America, will start vaccinations on Wednesday. The campaign will begin in a rural part of the country in an effort to show that the vaccines will be available for everyone, not just those in major cities.
Portugal will extend its COVID-19 border controls with Spain until March.
Mexico city’s COVID-19 threat level has been lowered after two months of strict lockdown measures.
South Africa has reopened 20 of its land borders today to allow normal travel.
South Africa has announced they will share unused doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine with the African Union.
Australia has suspended quarantine-free travel with New Zealand after it locked down Auckland following the detection of three new community cases.
The Palestinian authority has accused Israel of blocking 2,000 vaccines set to be delivered to Gaza health workers in the blockaded coastal strip.
An agreement between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel will allow people with the COVID-19 vaccination certificates to travel between the three countries.
The Czech Republic’s government announced it will reopen schools beginning March 1 despite high levels of COVID-19 infection.
Syringe shortages have delayed Japan’s vaccination program, raising concerns that millions of Pfizer doses could be wasted.
North Korea has been accused by the South Korean National Intelligence Agency of breaking into Pfizer’s computer systems looking for information on the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Dutch government has been ordered to remove the 9 PM curfew imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 following a court ruling. The Dutch prime minister has called for the curfew to remain.
Hong Kong will reopen sports and entertainment facilities and extend dining hours starting Feb. 18 as daily cases in the city dropped to single digits.
Germany will offer free COVID-19 antigen tests starting Mar. 1 as the country begins allowing some children to return to schools.
The Norwegian government will lift all extra restrictions on Thursday imposed on the capital region to stop the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant.
Scotland will allow children aged four to seven to return to school starting Feb. 22.
Brazil’s environment minister has tested positive for COVID-19.
Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard has said that his government is to present a complaint at the U.N. security council tomorrow about the unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines globally.
Rwanda has started vaccinating health care workers and other high-risk groups.
Mexico began vaccinating senior citizens in more than 300 municipalities across the country Monday after receiving 860,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
South Korea has arranged to buy COVID-19 vaccines for 23 million more people.