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COVID-19 Update
October 9, 2020
IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.

If your company is helping respond to COVID-19, IowaBio wants to know about it. Please, send any information about what your biotechnology company or organization is doing to help, to Jessica Hyland at Jessica@iowabio.org.

If IowaBio can assist you in getting information out, connecting with public officials, or support your company in another way, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Past IowaBio COVID-19 Update newsletters are now available at www.iowabio.org/COVID19 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.

Iowa Update

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 96,792 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,148 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 847,629 tested. 14 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 1,433 deaths. Now 74,984 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 11.4% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 8.8%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here
 
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning.
 
Currently 14 counties are above 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days:

Lyon 27.0%
Taylor 26.7%
Sioux 23.6%
Page 20.1%
Fremont 20.1%
Carroll 19.8%
Adams 19.4%
Delaware 18.3%
Harrison 17.9%
Guthrie 17.8%
Plymouth 17.8%
Emmet 16.6%
Osceola 16.4%
O’Brien 16.1%

Federal Actions
  • The FDA issued guidance with recommendations for vaccine sponsors regarding the scientific data and information that would support issuance of an EUA for investigational vaccines intended to prevent COVID-19.
  • The FDA launched a new webpage at www.fda.gov/covid19vaccines to highlight new information as it becomes available.
  • The FDA issued a letter to health care providers recommending that health care providers give clear, step-by-step instructions to patients who, in a health care setting, are self-collecting anterior nasal samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing. Without proper instructions, patients may not collect an adequate sample for testing, which may decrease the sensitivity of the test.
  • 273 tests are authorized by FDA under EUAs; these include 215 molecular tests, 53 antibody tests, and 5 antigen tests.
  • NIH, working in collaboration with BARDA, announced a third round of contract awards for scale-up and manufacturing of new COVID-19 testing technologies. The six new Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative contracts total $98.35 million for point-of-care and other novel test approaches that provide new modes of sample collection, processing and return of results. Innovations in these new technologies include integration with smart devices, mobile-lab processing that can be deployed to COVID-19 hot spots, and test results available within minutes.
  • CMS announced amended terms for payments issued under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program. This Medicare loan program allows CMS to make advance payments to providers and are typically used in emergency situations. Under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act repayment will now begin one year from the issuance date of each provider or supplier’s accelerated or advance payment. CMS issued $106 billion in payments to providers and suppliers in order to alleviate the financial burden healthcare providers faced while experiencing cash flow issues in the early stages of combating COVID-19.
  • Tuesday, the CDC revised its page on people with certain medical conditions to reflect recent data supporting increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 among adults with COVID-19 who have obesity, who are overweight, or who smoke or have a history of smoking. These revisions also make the document more explicit about data and implications for adults and for children. The listed underlying medical conditions in children were also revised to indicate that these conditions might increase risk to better reflect the quality of available data currently. This reflects the fact that there are less data available for children and does not imply that children are not at risk. 
  • The most recent CDC forecast, which combines the data from dozens of independent models, predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 could reach 233,000 by the end of the month.
  • The CDC recently updated their page on Alcohol and Substance Abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • There are multiple new releases in CDC's MMWR:
  • Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to allow contact tracers to investigate the large outbreak of coronavirus cases surrounding President Trump and White House staff.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin spoke again yesterday afternoon to determine if there is really any hope of passing a comprehensive bill, but the call did not yield any forward progress. 
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 7,528,313 total cases and 211,132 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Half of all states are reporting an uptick in new COVID-19 cases. Only three states — Hawaii, Iowa, and South Carolina — report a decline in cases over the past week.
  • Six states — Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming — set records for coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Tuesday, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. A seventh, Oklahoma, reported its highest count of hospitalizations since late July.
  • Hospitalizations for the virus in North Dakota, which have risen abruptly, are forcing health care officials in some towns to send people to faraway hospitals, even across state lines to Montana and South Dakota.
  • Utah health officials said hospitals and healthcare systems are becoming strained under COVID-19 caseloads as current hospitalizations continue rising. Thursday, Utah had 237 people hospitalized for COVID-19 which is another record for current hospitalizations in any given day.
  • The Nevada COVID-19 Task Force yesterday loosened the standards for testing levels and test positivity rates that counties must meet to stay off the state’s watch list. Counties can now conduct a third fewer COVID-19 tests, dropping from 150 tests per day per 100,000 residents to the new standard of 100 per day. The test positivity threshold will go from 7 percent to 8 percent.
  • Hawaii is preparing to loosen some of the strict pandemic restrictions that have hammered its tourism industry, including the requirement that arriving travelers spend 14 days in quarantine. Starting on Oct. 15, travelers will be allowed to skip the quarantine if they can show a negative virus test result from an approved source, taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York’s regional travel advisory was updated: New Mexico has been added to the list of impacted locations that meet the metrics to qualify, and no states or territories were removed.
  • A total of 169 public school sites are now closed in areas where there are clusters of COVID-19 cases in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Thursday he's keeping the state’s current coronavirus restrictions on businesses and activities in place for another month. In September, state Republican lawmakers convened a special session, hoping to undo many or all of the governor’s restrictions.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Wednesday that bars can reopen next week at 50 percent capacity if counties opt in.
  • On Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced health officials would open a field hospital at the Wisconsin State Fair Park just outside of Milwaukee to handle the number of new COVID-19 cases that are starting to “overwhelm” hospitals in the state. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have nearly tripled in the past month, surging to 853 from 289 in early September.
  • Gov. Evers also directed the Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue Emergency Order #3, limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy.
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) told reporters Tuesday he does not want to shut down the state’s economy again and doesn’t believe a shutdown is on the horizon.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) extended the state’s mask mandate for 30 days.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended the Protect Our Neighbors EO. Polis also extended an EO expanding the health care workforce for hospitals and other inpatient treatment facilities.
  • Most new cases of COVID-19 in Ohio are coming from “everyday activities” and slipping vigilance, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said Thursday afternoon. The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,539 new COVID-19 diagnoses, 13 new deaths, and 109 new hospitalizations on Thursday.
  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that Maine will move into Stage 4 of the Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy beginning Oct. 13.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced several updates to Washington's Safe Start reopening plan. The changes seek to align guidance and adjustments to regulations of several industries. Inslee also announced the extension of 26 proclamations today in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced the Healing Illinois initiative in response to the racial disparities highlighted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced a plan to deploy a huge influx of rapid COVID-19 tests from the federal government. Oregon will be receiving 60,000 to 80,000 COVID-19 rapid tests per week until the end of the year. 
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced Wednesday morning that 60,000 antigen test kits, provided by the federal government, are now at the State Hygienic Lab. Her team will prioritize rural hospitals and clinics when sending out the tests, she said.
  • A member of California Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) office staff tested positive for COVID-19 and contact tracing has begun, the office said Wednesday.
  • Useful state data:
    • Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers, and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country.
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
    • This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19, and this tracker, created and maintained by MultiState Associates, has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
International Affairs
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his close relatives and other people in his inner circle have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, as Russia races to cement itself as the first country with an effective method of wiping out the disease.
  • People who were asymptomatic accounted for 86 percent of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in a U.K. sample population during lockdown, a study showed, meaning the country’s current policy of only testing people with symptoms might miss many cases.
  • Hospitals in the Paris region have moved into emergency mode, canceling staff holidays and postponing non-essential operations, as coronavirus patients made up close to half of all patients in intensive care units.
  • Defiance of coronavirus rules in rural India is propelling the nation’s virus caseload toward the top spot globally. In many villages, no one is wearing masks, there is no social distancing, and people are refusing to get tested. India currently has 6.8 million cases of the virus, the second highest in the world after the U.S.
  • A Madrid court struck down a government order imposing a partial coronavirus lockdown on the Spanish capital, ruling in favor of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities. Under the health ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area, including nine satellite town and imposed other measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.
  • The Czech government will close indoor sports facilities and culture venues for two weeks beginning Monday to slow the spread of new coronavirus infections. Restaurants will have to close at 8 PM, and pupils in the upper level of elementary schools will alternate between in-class and distance learning, government officials said.
  • Saudi Arabia’s minister of education, Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al Shaikh, announced distance learning will continue until the end of the first term of the educational year after evaluating the situation in the past weeks.
  • Kenya has begun a phased reopening of schools almost eight months after authorities suspended classes because of the pandemic. The country’s education secretary, George Magoha, announced on Tuesday that public and private schools would reopen for students in grades four, eight and 12 starting Monday.
  • Sweden will postpone plans to let more people attend sport events and concerts due to rising coronavirus cases both within the country and around Europe.
  • Bars, restaurants, and other businesses in Berlin, Germany will be forced to close between 11 PM and 6 AM, starting this weekend, in an effort to combat COVID-19.
  • First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a nationwide ban on drinking indoors in licensed premises in Scotland for more than two weeks, with a full shutdown of all premises across the central belt where infection rates are accelerating most rapidly.
  • Poland will make face masks mandatory in public spaces starting Saturday in response to a second day of record-high case numbers.
  • New Zealand moved to lift the last of its restrictions in Auckland after 10 days with no new cases linked to a cluster that first surfaced in August. The government will now allow unrestricted gatherings and trips on public transit without social distancing or masks.
  • With coronavirus cases surging in Malaysia to their highest levels since the pandemic began, the prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, has placed himself in quarantine and acknowledged that a recent election campaign was one of the causes of the spike.
  • Thailand is pushing back plans to receive its first batch of foreign tourists due to administrative issues, a senior official said, adding to uncertainty about when it will welcome back visitors vital to its economy.
  • Japan plans to lift travel bans next month on people going to China and 11 other countries, including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Japan has banned travel to 159 countries and regions.
  • Singapore has approved COVID-19-secure cruise holidays to nowhere, in the latest attempt to offer a long-distance travel experience, albeit with no stops, and revive its tourism sector.
  • Global Cases: 36,212,651     Total Deaths: 1,056,744
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • A clinical trial to test the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of a combination treatment regimen for COVID-19 consisting of the antiviral remdesivir plus a highly concentrated solution of antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has begun. The study is taking place in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 in the U.S., Mexico, and 16 other countries on five continents. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is sponsoring and funding the Phase 3 trial, called Inpatient Treatment with Anti-Coronavirus Immunoglobulin, or ITAC.
  • Regeneron said on Wednesday that it had submitted an EUA application to the FDA for emergency approval of the experimental antibody cocktail that was used to help treat President Trump. The company said access to the treatment would be extremely limited at first, with only enough doses for 50,000 patients.
  • Eli Lilly and Company announced additional details on its SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody programs – including interim data on combination therapy in recently diagnosed patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 – and plans to make these therapies broadly available to patients. The company said a monoclonal antibody treatment is effective in reducing levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 in patients, and also appears to prevent patients from visiting the emergency room or hospital.
  • A recent study published in NEJM funded by NIH's NIAID found that remdesivir was superior to a placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.
  • In another study in the NEJM, among patients hospitalized with COVID-19, those who received hydroxychloroquine did not have a lower incidence of death at 28 days than those who received usual care.
  • In the largest study to date of COVID-19 among non-hospitalized pregnant women, researchers analyzed the clinical course and outcomes of 594 women who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus during pregnancy. They found that the most common early symptoms for pregnant women were cough, sore throat, body aches, and fever. Half of the participants still had symptoms after 3 weeks and 25 percent had symptoms after 8 weeks.
  • Johns Hopkins University is getting a $1.44 million federal grant from NIAID to study potential COVID-19 testing gaps and disparities for transgender persons.
  • A coalition of 11 academic institutions and their community partners across California has received a $4.1 million grant from NIH for a statewide community-engaged approach to addressing COVID-19 among populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. UCLA will lead the coalition. 
  • The European Commission has sealed a supply deal with Johnson & Johnson for the supply of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for up to 400 million people. This is the third advance purchase contract signed by the E.U. with makers of coronavirus vaccines after deals with AstraZeneca and Sanofi. 
  • The E.U. also signed a deal with Gilead, the California-based pharmaceutical company, to ensure uninterrupted access to remdesivir, an antiviral drug being used to treat COVID-19. The deal would allow all members of the E.U., as well as the U.K., Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and several Balkan countries to buy up to 500,000 treatment courses in the next six months.
  • COVID-19 is threatening the survival of indigenous languages in native communities across the globe. In Brazil, the virus has so far killed at least 205 indigenous “ancients,” leaders who served as living records for people without written ones. By targeting the elderly, the virus is disproportionately striking down the last remaining speakers of ancient languages that were already threatened by globalization, development, and the growing hegemony of a few global languages.
  • Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were more likely male, younger, and, in both the U.S. and Spain, had fewer comorbidities and lower medication use than hospitalized influenza patients according to a recent study published by the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) community.
  • A new study by Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers has found clear evidence that wearing a mask can have a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19. The researchers, from SFU's Department of Economics, have determined that mask mandates are associated with a 25 percent or larger weekly reduction in COVID-19 cases in Canada.
  • TestBoston — a project now being launched by Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Broad Institute — plans to offer monthly at-home COVID-19 testing to thousands across Greater Boston in the coming months, at no charge. Participants will test themselves monthly for six months, and can also have a test kit sent to their home whenever they have symptoms. The program is donor funded, costing about $100 per participant per month.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here
  • BIO’s COVID 19 pipeline tracker is here.
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
Helpful Articles/Media
Sincerely,
Jessica

Jessica Hyland, J.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Biotechnology Association
Cell: (515) 822-1315
Office: (515) 327-9156
Fax: (515) 327-1407
jessica@iowabio.org
www.iowabio.org
Copyright © 2020 Iowa Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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