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.
Late yesterday after the press conference reported below, the Iowa Department of Public Health sent out a press release regarding the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine: The federal government notified the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) that the State of Iowa, as well as all other states, will not receive the volume of vaccine initially anticipated. It appears our allocation may be reduced by as much as 30%, however we are working to gain confirmation and additional details from our federal partners. It will take us some time to work through next steps and adjust our planning.
We will provide updates as quickly as we are able to as we confirm additional information.
IowaBio partnered with the Iowa Medical Society, the Iowa Public Health Association, and Iowa Immunizes to develop a resource on COVID-19 vaccines that can be shared. The fact sheet can be found here.
Governor’s Press Conference
At her press conference yesterday, Governor Kim Reynolds said that Monday was a historic day as shipments of Pfizer’s COVID 19 vaccine arrived in states across the country including Iowa, and in just days they expect the final approval of the Moderna vaccine and its arrival in the state.
The first shipments arrived at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and Unity Point Health Methodist in Des Moines, and Genesis and MercyOne also now have received it. Frontline healthcare workers have begun to be vaccinated. As of yesterday, approximately 500 healthcare workers have received the vaccine.
For months we’ve been anxiously awaiting a vaccine. It’s finally here and it comes with the hope that life will return to normal in the not too-distant future, she said. We must be patient for a few more months as the vaccine supply increases. The Governor said as many people as possible must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
It’s normal and expected to have questions about a new vaccine, the Governor said. The Iowa Department of Public Health will provide information regularly to Iowans through social media and other channels. Numbers of Iowans that have received the vaccine will be reported. A new dashboard is being worked on now that will be part of coronavirus.iowa.gov.
The Governor herself, plans to be vaccinated after healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff have been vaccinated. Her decision to wait isn’t based on any hesitancy with the vaccine, she said. She wants to make sure those who are at risk and healthcare workers are vaccinated first. She is confident that the vaccine is safe and effective, and she looks forward to being vaccinated as soon as the supply increases.
Achieving widespread vaccination will take some time, but we are very close. Just a few short months from now things can look remarkably different than they have in nearly a year, Governor Reynolds said.
Director of IDPH Kelly Garcia provided an update on IDAC. While we’re just beginning to get the vaccine to Iowans, we’re poised to move quickly to protect Iowans from COVID-19. As we likely have another vaccine, FDA advisors will meet tomorrow. They expect they could have the Moderna vaccine in the state on Monday.
The Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC) is working to develop vaccine distribution and prioritization in the early stages of the vaccine shipments. IDAC has met twice. From their first two meetings they discussed sub-prioritization in hospital staff. The council discussed all roles in clinical rotation, students and other non-clinical staff. Those recommendations will be out next week, and next week will focus on 1b which includes critical infrastructure workers, including schools, food supply and corrections. The next prioritization will be focused on work settings. To assist in the effort, they will ask employers, advocates and stakeholders to inform and guide their decisions. Note: IowaBio is preparing a letter to the committee, regarding our members’ critical infrastructure workers.
They are working on a robust communications plan to ensure Iowans understand the vaccine is safe and effective. They will work to reach vulnerable populations, non-English speakers, historic vaccine hesitant groups and refugees, Garcia said.
While vaccinations are the big headline, there is more good news on the status of COVID-19 here in Iowa, the Governor said. We have seen a continued decline in cases since mid-November. There is further stabilization this past week. CDC reports that Iowa now ranks 35 in the nation for number of new cases in the last 7 days and 36 for the average daily number of cases per 100,000 population. Iowa's statewide average over the last 14 days is 13.8 percent and 10.4 percent over the last seven days. Our hospitals remain stable and continue to decline. Numbers are half of the peak reached in mid-November.
All 104 nurses they have contracted with to supplement hospital staff where needed have reported for duty. Contact tracers are now caught up to make calls which were delayed during the surge, and they can now expand the scope of investigations past households again. On Monday 8 semi-loads of PPE for 430 long-term care facilities left the state’s central warehouse for distribution.
Yesterday, the Governor made some adjustments to the proclamation of disaster emergency that are effective tomorrow at 12:01 am and in effect through Jan 8. Bars and restaurants can resume normal hours of operations, but patrons must remain seated while eating or drinking, distance six feet, wear masks while not seated, and are limited to 8 per group or household. No bar seating is allowed. Sports spectators will be slightly expanded to include members of the participant’s household but 6 feet of distance between groups is required. Gathering limitations are removed. We’ve seen the positive effects of only small group gatherings over Thanksgiving, and keep that in mind during the holidays. Mask requirements are still in effect, she said. The full proclamation can be found here.
To ensure Iowans have access to testing during the holidays, Test Iowa’s five state-operated drive-thru sites and the State Hygienic Lab will be closed only on Friday, Dec. 25, for Christmas Day and Friday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. The sites include:
Black Hawk County — 4121 Alexandra Drive, Waterloo
Linn County — Windstar Lines, 5755 Willow Creek Drive SW, Cedar Rapids
Polk County — 4475 NE 3rd Street, Des Moines
Pottawattamie County — 3236 Nebraska Ave., Council Bluffs
Scott County — North Park Mall, 320 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport
Sites will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, except for the Council Bluffs site, which will close at 2 p.m. The early closure allows time for test samples to be transported to the lab for processing overnight, so that results can be reported in a timely manner.
The State Hygienic Lab will reopen on Saturday, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, and resume test processing. The five drive-thru sites will reopen for testing as usual on Monday, Dec. 28 and Jan. 4, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Individuals who wish to be tested at any site must first complete an online assessment at testiowa.com and schedule an appointment. Locations and hours of operation for all test sites can be found at testiowa.com or coronavirus.iowa.gov.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 262,198 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,977 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,294,598 tested. 14 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 3,354 deaths. Now 204,840 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 13.7% the past 7-day average is 10.4%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 746 hospitalized patients.
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. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
Currently 45 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
Total Cases 16,519,668
Total Deaths 302,992
Total Cases 74,356,119
Total Deaths 1,651,891