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COVID-19 Update
May 19, 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

Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 15,206 Iowans have tested positive, up 555 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 106,427 Iowans tested.  16 more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 367 deaths. 7,827 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

Yesterday afternoon another update was made to the state’s information dashboard coronavirus.iowa.gov, Governor  Kim Reynolds announced. Case counts will now be updated in real time as they come into the dashboard (which is reflected in today’s statistics included in this newsletter and will be going forward). Now there will be a trendline for those testing positive versus the total number tested on any given day, and additional county trendline data will be made available.

In addition, there will be data on serology testing. Of those Iowans who have received a serology test, which has been utilized as a tool by IDPH in surveillance strike teams at nursing homes or meat processing facilities, the dashboard shows overall 14 percent tested positive. Today Dr. Caitlin Pedati, State Epidemiologist, will be giving additional information about serology testing in Iowa.

Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds said more than 100,000 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19—1 in 31 Iowans. It’s been 18 days since IDPH reported the highest number of positive cases. Days to double is now 21 days, which speaks to the slowing of the spread. 

A new dedicated call center for Test Iowa is up and running as of yesterday, she announced. The list of the state’s COVID-19 information hotline resources is here:
  • COVID-19 Questions for Individuals: Dial 2-1-1
  • COVID-19 Questions for Healthcare Providers: 800.362.2736
  • Iowa Multilingual COVID-19 Phone Line: 877.558.2609
  • Legal Information Hotline for COVID-19: 800.332.0419
  • Iowa Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.770.1650
  • Iowa Dept. of Corrections COVID-19 Hotline: 515.373.5457
The Governor said the decision to allow reopening is not a mandate, and each individual must make decisions that are best for them and their families. The long term consequences of keeping businesses closed are far reaching and will also have long term effects, she said; It’s a matter of balancing health and the health of the economy.

Dr. Pedati gave an update on Multisystem Inflammatory System in Children (MIS-C). Late last week the CDC alerted health care providers and officials that seem to be associated with COVID-19, and appears similar to Kawasaki disease, she said. Friday afternoon IDPH received two reports of the syndrome, in Eastern Iowa. Dr. Pedati says this is a place where we need to learn more, and to that end it is now a mandatorily reported syndrome, so the state can track and learn how to manage it.

There are no specific updates on the use of remdesivir on Iowa patients, at this time. The drug has been shown to shorten recovery for some patients.

Governor Reynolds fielded questions about the state budget and what the impact of COVID-19 is on state revenues. She said they are working with the legislature to examine that. They will continue to wait to see the impact of deferred tax payments on the budget.

Before lawmakers return, Governor Reynolds and legislative leaders want the Revenue Estimating Conference to meet and evaluate the state’s financial position before lawmakers create a fiscal year 2021 budget. The Legislative Services Agency reported the year-over-year decline in state tax revenue from March 19 to May 13 was $531 million — 34 percent, much due to tax delays.

Iowa legislative leaders approved a plan for lawmakers to resume their in-person work at the Capitol on June 3 with the expectation of finishing a budget and other essential work the following week.  Lawmakers, who suspended their session March 16 as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, will operate under new health and safety guidelines approved by the Legislative Council in a telephonic meeting last Thursday afternoon.  Once inside the Capitol, personal protective equipment will be encouraged but not be mandatory. There are no plans for remote voting.

Procedurally, Republicans, who control both chambers, said they will set June 5 as the second funnel deadline, which requires policy bills to have been approved by one chamber and a committee of the other to advance to final approval; tax and appropriation bills are not subject to this deadline. Committee meetings will take place in either the Senate or House chamber and be livestreamed on the legislative website, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/, and may be viewed on television monitors throughout the Capitol. House-Senate budget subcommittee meetings will be discontinued. Budget bills will go through each chamber’s Appropriations Committee.

Federal Legislation
Supplemental IV – The Heroes Act (HR 6800)

Timeline/Process/Politics: As the House passed the Heroes Act last week, the ball is now in the Senate’s court. Leaders McConnell and McCarthy have continued to hold the position that Congress must wait and see what impacts past packages are having on the economy and certain sectors before injecting more money. It’s unclear when bipartisan negotiations will begin. Republicans are also less likely to jump into negotiations without finalizing the conceptual contours of their top priority: liability protection (as mentioned in Friday’s update, Sen. Cornyn’s staff are drafting language currently). Action may require another trigger, like PPP funding running out or the looming expiration of the federal boost to unemployment (July 31). Slipping economic data and calls for action from Republican governors and the White House may pressure Senate Republicans to move quicker. When negotiations do begin, it will likely be a grinding debate as Democrats and Republicans continue to be far apart on most big-ticket items. Look for Leader McCarthy and McConnell to assert themselves into negotiations more than in past packages.

Policy: While bipartisan negotiations have yet to begin, the Heroes Act, which passed the House last Friday evening, will likely serve as the base. The Senate could conceivably introduce and pass their own bill, but as of right now, the only drafting Senate-side is on liability protections. Heroes Act text (as of 5/12/2020) here. Section by section here. One pager here. State and Local one pager here. NCAI’s summary on tribal provisions here. Manager’s amendment here. House Rules Committee report here.

Legislation to Watch
State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Fund: A bipartisan, bicameral group of Members of Congress introduced a bill that would provide $500 billion for state and local governments. Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Tom Reed (R-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Pete King (R-NY), Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ), Fred Upton (R-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the legislation in the Senate. Text here. Summary of provisions below:
  • Aid would be divided into three equal buckets based on the following:
    • Population – Funding would be allocated to all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. territories in proportion to each respective state or territory’s percentage of the U.S. population. Counties will receive one sixth of their state’s allocation and municipalities will receive one sixth of their state’s allocation.
    • Infection Rates – Funding would be allocated to each state based on its portion of the national infection rate. Similarly, funding to local governments will be based on their proportion to their state’s population.
    • Revenue losses – Funding would be allocated based on states’ revenue loss compared to the revenue loss of all states. Losses will be calculated for this calendar year (1/1/2020 – 12/31/2020).
  • Funds will be limited to:
    • Necessary, COVID-19-related expenditures,
    • Expenses not budgeted for in the most recent budget,
    • Expenses incurred between 3/1/2020 – 12/31/2020 and a state/locality is unable to make up due to loss of revenue.
  • Funds are explicitly prohibited from being used for pre-pandemic expenses or lowering pre-existing deficits. Funds also cannot be used to bolster state pension systems.
Passed Legislation
New Implementation Information and Guidance
  • 5/18 – The Congressional Oversight Commission (COC) issued its first report. The Commission was created by the CARES Act to conduct oversight of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve’s implementation of Division A, Title IV, Subtitle A of the CARES Act, which provided $500 billion for Treasury and the Federal Reserve for loans and loan guarantees to the airline industry, businesses critical to national security, and medium-sized businesses through lending facilities. Report here. Cover letter here.
  • 5/16 – Updated data on the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Round 2 was released. Data below:
    • Overall number of approved loans: 2,763,586
    • Overall total dollars: $195,171,874,154
    • Average Loan Size: $70,622
    • Lenders < $10 billion in assets
      • Number of approved loans: 1,096,108
      • Total dollars:  $62,980,434,442
    • Lenders between $10 billion - $50 billion
      • Number of approved loans: 383,888
      • Total dollars: $29,670,409,695
    • Lenders > $50 billion in assets:
      • Number of approved loans: 1,283,590
      • Total dollars: $102,521,030,018
  • 5/15 – In a court document filed Friday, Treasury indicated that it will open a portal this week for tribes to submit information outlined in last week’s data request. Tribes will have five business days to submit the data (expected submission deadline is May 26). Treasury expects to process the data and determine allocations within a week of the submission deadline (by June 4). Treasury will disburse payments one business day after Treasury has finished computing amounts. In a call today, Treasury indicated that they will hold back funding for Alaskan Native Corporations (ANCs). Treasury also explained that the data request for employees should include both government employees and tribal-entity employees, while the expenditure data should only include government expenditures.
Previously Reported Implementation Information and Guidance
Small Business Loans & Treasury Main Street Lending
  • 5/15 – Treasury released the loan forgiveness application for businesses that have received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Application here.
  • 5/11 – SBA released updated PPP statistics, including recent state by state information here.
  • 5/8 – SBA’s Inspector General released a report on the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program. The report found the Administration’s administration of the program did not align with the law in four ways: prioritization of underserved/rural markets, loan proceeds eligibility for forgiveness, guidance on loan deferment, and registration of loans. Report here.
  • 5/7 -- The Washington Post reported that the SBA has imposed a new loan limit on the department’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), moving the loan limit from $2 million to $150,000. The department also announced that it would only be accepting applications from agricultural businesses onward.
  • 5/6 – Treasury released an updated FAQ for the Paycheck Protection Program. FAQ here.
  • 5/3 – Treasury and SBA released a data set for the most recent tranche of P3 funds. Data here.
  • 4/30 – The IRS issued guidance that most expenses funded by forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are non-deductible for federal income tax purposes.
  • 4/30 – The Federal Reserve released the term sheets and other information relating to its expansion of scope and eligibility of the Main Street Lending Program. Term sheets and other information here. Other information on other facilities and programs here.
  • 4/29 – SBA announced that from 4:00-11:49pm on 4/29, SBA systems would only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. The move was aimed at ensuring access to the PPP loan program for smaller lenders and their customers.
  • 4/28 – SBA announced it would no longer accept PPP loan applications submitted by robotic processing systems.
  • Treasury released an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program on how lenders will calculate loan amounts for employers with seasonal employees. Rule here.
  • 4/24 – SBA issued a procedural guidance on participation sales here.
  • 4/24 – SBA released an interim final rule on requirements for Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation, and Eligibility. Interim Final Rule here. Additional eligibility criteria and requirements for certain loans here.
  • 4/24 – Data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
  • 4/23 – The Treasury Department asked all publicly traded companies that received funds under the program to return the funds within two weeks.
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule on the small business provisions in the bill. See here for a memo Cornerstone put together on the interim final rule.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
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’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here (updated 4/29)
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 5/13 – HRSA announced the winners of $15 million in telehealth grants that were authorized through the CARES Act. Press release here. Awards here.
  • 5/1 – As part of the $100 billion dedicated to hospitals and health providers in CARES, HHS is distributing funding to “hotspot” hospitals and providers. HHS will be distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020. $2 billion of the funding will be distributed based on low-income/uninsured data (Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments).
  • 4/27 – Outline of the Provider Relief Fund with additions from COVID 3.5 here.
  • 4/27 – Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million in discretionary grant funds will be available for states to use to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to COVID-19. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • 4/26 – CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program (AAP) and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. Press release here.
    • The announcement came as a surprise to Democrats, who were actively negotiating with the department officials on modifying the program.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on how the next $60 billion in the health relief fund will be distributed. HHS has committed that it will send out an additional $60 billion dollars in the coming weeks, much of it coming within the next 10 days.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on changes to Medicare advance payment policies. The administration committed that, by the end of this week, Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows will release a letter stating that they will:
    • Use their administrative authority to reduce the interest rate down from what is currently 10.25 percent to a rate that is more in line with a traditional federal interest rate.
    • Use their administrative authority to extend the repayment period beyond 12 months.
    • Work with Congress and support legislation in Corona 4 that will place the liability for these payments in Treasury’s General Revenue fund, rather than the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Funds. The expansion of these programs must not adversely affect Medicare’s solvency or result in premium increases for seniors.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
  • 4/9 – Secretary DeVos indicated 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 distributed the funding to colleges, which are meant to then distribute the aid among students. See here for the specific allocations for each college.
Economic Stabilization
  • 4/30 – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the FAA will begin awarding the AIP and other discretionary grants funding through the CARES Act. Press release here. Complete list of grants here. Map of airports receiving funding here.
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
  • 3/30 – 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.
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 5/14 – Treasury issued a data request to disburse the second round of funding for tribes in the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The data request includes information on employees and expenditures. Portal will likely open sometime next week. More information here.
  • 5/12 – Treasury released its list of payments to states and qualifying localities for the Coronavirus Relief Fund. List here.
  • 5/8 – Treasury still has a remaining $3.2 billion to distribute among tribes and plans to submit a new data request soon, with a portal open soon after. The next round of funding will be based on employment and expenditure data of Tribes and tribally-owned entities.
  • 5/5 – Treasury released distribution details regarding the tribal portion of the Coronavirus Release Fund. The first 60% of the fund will be distributed to tribes based on population used in the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) and will include a floor of $100,000. The remaining 40% will be distributed based on the number of individuals employed by the Tribe, including employees of tribally owned entities. Treasury still needs to collect and verify employment data before distributing the second round of funding. Amounts for ANCs will not be distributed, as litigation is still pending. Press release here. Details here.
    • More than a dozen tribes have sued the Treasury Department over its guidance identifying Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as eligible entities for the fund. Last Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin said that the department would not be releasing funding until Tuesday, April 28 – two days after the deadline outlined in the CARES Act. The court on Monday preliminarily enjoined Treasury from disbursing funds to ANCs.
  • 5/5 – Treasury released an updated FAQ regarding distribution of CARES Act state/local funds. FAQ here.
  • 4/27 – USDA announced that Kansas and Virginia have been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
  • 4/22 – Treasury issued guidance on the state/local/tribal governments fund here. The guidance further defines what expenses qualify as “necessary expenditures” and provides examples as well as examples of ineligible expenses.
  • 4/13 – Treasury 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), and
      • 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. 
Oversight
  • 5/7 – The remaining members of the House Select Committee on Coronavirus Crisis were named. Minority Whip Scalise’s priorities for the committee here. Full Committee membership below:
    • Chair Jim Clyburn (D-SC) – Chair
    • Maxine Waters (D-CA)
    • Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
    • Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
    • Bill Foster (D-IL)
    • Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
    • Andy Kim (D-NJ)
    • Steve Scalise (R-LA) – Ranking Member
    • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
    • Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
    • Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
    • Rep. Mark Green (R-TN)
  • 4/29 – Speaker Pelosi announced the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)
The President signed the bill into law on April 24. Text here. Section by section here. Summary of hospital and testing provisions here. DPCC one pager here. Senate Democrats summary of health provisions. Overview of commitments regarding health funding and Medicare advance payments the Administration made as part of negotiations.
 
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.
 
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
Hearings and Meetings: The Senate and the House both have hearings, with limited attendance and required social distancing protocols. Leader Hoyer said the House would return to vote on FISA legislation and possibly coronavirus-related legislation the week of May 27.

Appropriations: While there is no specific markup schedule set, HAC still hopes to begin markups early next month, though likely will push to mid to late June. It will take some time to develop and implement committee guidance and procedures for the new remote latitude afforded them through the House Rules change. The plan remains to move through COVID Phase 4 before turning to FY21. We still expect a rapid-fire markup process. The hope is that all 12 subcommittees can go through subcommittee markups over the course of a week – whenever the markups begin – with most of the full committee markups in the following week. Both majority and minority committee staff would like to rely minimally on remote procedures and are planning to do markups in larger than normal hearing rooms (Cannon Caucus Room or CVC theater) to accommodate proper social distancing. HAC-D will be limited in marking up the classified portion of the bill, as staff cannot do so remotely and will need to complete it upon return to their offices.
 
The FY21 Senate Appropriations schedule has officially slipped. They are no longer saying bills will be marked up prior to July 4, and the timing is likely delayed a minimum of 3 weeks. Chairman Shelby late last week said he’d like to start marking up bills in June, but that the Homeland Security and VA/MILCON bills might not be marked up due to no agreement on 302b allocations. As for caps, there continues to be chatter around exempting a Veterans Affairs health care program from budget caps. This move could free up $11 billion for other non-defense discretionary spending priorities.
 
NDAA: HASC intends to schedule the markup once the House schedule is clear. Both HASC and SASC are looking to markup NDAA 2021 the week of June 8, with the goal to have a bill to floor before the 4th of July recess. Dates could slip depending on availability of floor time. No SASC hearings are expected until after NDAA markup. HASC finished drafting the Chairman’s Mark two weeks ago and SASC finished drafting last week. Both are reviewing the draft and will be making final tweaks over the next two weeks.
 
Remote voting/virtual protocols: Last week, the House passed the McGovern-Lofgren resolution (H.Res 965) to allow proxy voting and remote hearings and markups. The House passed the bill by a party line vote (217-189). House Republicans have not been enthusiastic about the prospect of remote markups and Floor action.

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

Tested Positive (0):

Currently Self-Quarantined (1): Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Recovered (7): 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), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Completed Quarantine (37): 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), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Other Federal Actions
  • CMS announced new guidance for state and local officials to ensure the safe reopening of nursing homes across the country. The guidance details critical steps nursing homes and communities should take prior to relaxing restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including infection prevention and control, adequate testing, and surveillance. The recommendations issued today would allow states to make sure nursing homes are continuing to take appropriate and necessary steps to ensure resident safety.
  • The Trump Administration is reportedly set to announce a new BARDA contract with Phlow Corp., a Virginia-based company that manufactures generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients needed to treat COVID-19. The four-year contract will attempt to appease concerns that COVID-19 treatments and necessary materials are mostly made in India and China, rather than the U.S.
  • HUD Sec. Ben Carson announced nearly $77 million in a fourth wave of CARES Act funding, supporting up to 8,300 additional vouchers. Provided through HUD's Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program, this wave of relief funds will provide affordable housing to non-elderly people living with disabilities.
  • The FDA has authorized an at-home sample collection kit that can then be sent to specified laboratories for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Specifically, the FDA issued an EUA to Everlywell, Inc. for the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit. Everlywell’s kit is authorized to be used by individuals at home who have been screened using an online questionnaire that is reviewed by a health care provider. 
  • The FDA will host a virtual Town Hall on May 20th at 12:15 PM for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers to help answer questions about the updated COVID-19 diagnostics policy. 
  • The CDC published a report documenting activities and initiatives the agency has implemented to support the COVID-19 response and the President's plan to reopen the U.S.
  • CDC is hosting live stakeholder calls to help communities plan for, respond to, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • The CDC had another busy weekend and continues to update and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Today, the CDC published new information about COVID-19 serology surveillance, revised communication resources for travelers, and a more thorough recommendation regarding the use of cloth face masks (among other resources).  
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent a letter to Blue Flame Medical LLC with a series of questions following reports that the company failed to follow through on contracts to provide critical medical supplies and PPE to state and local governments, as well as a nonprofit health care provider. 
  • There are a couple of COVID-19 hearings slated to take place in Congress this week. Memos will be available upon request:
  • The bipartisan Congressional Oversight Commission published its first monthly report titled, "Questions About the CARES Act’s $500 Billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Funds." The report states that the Treasury has yet to disburse the $46 billion in grant and loan money to airlines or businesses critical to national security. It has used only $37.5 billion for the Fed’s Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility so far, which purchases outstanding corporate bonds through a special purpose vehicle. As a reminder, the Commission members are Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Reps. French Hill (R-AR) and Donna Shalala (D-FL), and Bharat Ramamurti (a democratic economic advisor). 
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,480,349 total cases and 89,407 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. The Johns Hopkins University data capture is now reporting over 90,000 U.S. deaths
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an EO to require protections for workers as businesses begin reopening.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that he expects the city to meet the broader state requirements to being reopening by early next month based on current trends. For this to happen, the city needs to see a decrease in hospitalizations, increases in hospital and ICU bed vacancies, and at least 30 contract tracers per 100,000 residents. 
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that his state has hit its benchmarks to move forward with the first phase of reopening on Wednesday. Phase one includes the reopening of some restaurants, offices, retails stores, and outdoor museums.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) unveiled phase one of a four-phase approach to reopen the state starting next week. Office spaces outside Boston may reopen at 25% capacity and retail establishments may offer curbside service.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that he was signing an executive order that will allow some additional outdoor businesses to reopen.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that several new businesses and entities will be allowed to resume operations in the coming weeks, including malls, bars, casinos, and more. Here is an updated schedule for business reopening. 
  • Gov. Whitmer signed an EO lifting restrictions in the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City area starting Friday. The order allows for the reopening of retail business, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced the reopening of state parks starting today, state beaches by May 25th, and places of worship starting May 30th.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that nearly half of counties in the state are moving further into "phase two" of the state's four-phase reopening plan.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the second phase of the state's reopening plan. Under phase two, child care centers and office buildings are allowed to reopen now, while more businesses will reopen in the coming days.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that the state will reopen public beaches in Virginia Beach this Friday ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
  • The Florida Keys will reopen to visitors on June 1st. 
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is tracking which states are reopening and which are still shut down.
    • 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. 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 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
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have joined forces to propose borrowing 500 billion euros for a common EU recovery fund. Repayment would fall on the entire union, though the brunt of the funds would be benefiting the bloc's southern countries. 
  • WHO and UNICEF have published a document on frequently asked questions (FAQs) about immunization in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These FAQs accompany WHO’s Guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • WHO has published a new scientific brief on “Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents with COVID-19”, given the reported clusters of children and adolescents who require admission to intensive care units with a multisystem inflammatory condition. 
  • Japan has agreed to contribute over US$2.7 million to help nine countries in the Americas strengthen their capacities to detect cases, monitor, and control outbreaks of COVID-19, as well as ensure that reliable public health information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to people involved in the response and the general public. 
  • France's administrative court has ruled that the government must lift a blanket ban on meetings at places of worship within eight days. The ban was originally put in place as part of social distancing measures to combat COVID-19, but the Council of State has ruled the ban "disproportionate in nature."
  • Brazil topped 250,000 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, surpassing the UK's total and making it the country with the third highest number of global confirmed infections. 
  • More than half of all COVID-19 deaths in Sweden's elderly population have occurred in care homes, which some health care workers are blaming on an institutional reluctance to admit patients to hospitals. Nurses at elderly care facilities have reported that they were told not to send ill residents to the hospital. 
  • The 73rd World Health Assembly opened today and will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Member States will deliver statements, report their progress in fighting the coronavirus, share knowledge on the evolving situation, and consider a draft resolution on COVID-19. It is available live online in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, English, French, and Spanish.
  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that all stores and shopping malls can open immediately, overturning government-mandated closings of businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Pakistan's number of reported cases have continued to increase despite a lockdown on nonessential business activity and tight restrictions on movement.
  • Global Cases:  4,823,479        Total Deaths:  318,857
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Drug maker Moderna said yesterday that the first vaccine to be tested on people appears to be safe and stimulates an immune response against the virus. These findings are based on the first eight people, volunteers aged 18 to 55, who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine. Read Moderna's press release here for more detailed information. 
    • The encouraging preliminary findings led the stock market to increase substantially, with the S&P 500 rising more than 3 percent. 
  • BIO’s pipeline tracker today shows 463 unique compounds in development to fight COVID-19, including 117 vaccines, 144 antivirals and 202 treatments.
  • A key COVID-19 model often cited by the White House has revised its death projection for the U.S. slightly downward, now predicting 143,360 deaths by August 4th, about 3,700 fewer than the model predicted in mid-May.
  • Online Advanced Placement (AP) tests for high schoolers didn't go quite as smoothly as planned last week. Many test takers reported having difficulty submitting their answers and will now have to make up the test next month. More than 2.2 million AP tests were taken last week, and a second week began today. 
  • Ford has contracted with medical centers in Detroit, Louisville, Kansas City, and Chicago to test symptomatic factory workers and salaried employees for COVID-19. The company reportedly has on-site testing capability at most locations for workers who are feverish or showing other symptoms.
    • Fiat Chrysler has also said it has contracts with hospitals in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois to test symptomatic workers.
  • Uber announced they would be cutting an additional 3,000 jobs and close 45 offices. The company has already allocated $50 million to buy supplies for drivers, including masks, disinfectant sprays, and wipes and, starting Monday, the app will ask drivers to verify they are wearing face masks by taking selfies. Riders will also be expected to confirm they are wearing face coverings.
  • More than 11,000 people across the U.S. are now employed as contact tracers working to track and stop the spread of COVID-19, and local health departments plan to hire thousands more. The work is mostly done remotely and can be full- or part-time, often with an hourly wage of $17 to $25.
  • 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.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • RetailDive tracks store reopenings in the U.S. 
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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