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COVID-19 Update
April 23, 2020

IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.

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

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

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

Iowa Update

Governor Kim Reynolds will hold a press conference today from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Johnston, IA at 11:00 a.m. to provide an update to the state of Iowa on COVID-19. That press conference will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page and on YouTube.
 
Yesterday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was notified of 107 additional positive cases for a total of 3,748 positive cases. There have been an additional 522 negative tests for a total of 24,496 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 7 deaths were also reported, 272 are currently hospitalized, and 1,428 Iowans have recovered. 
 
The state of Iowa has a dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county, as well as other data.

The Iowa Legislative Services Agency (LSA) published an update on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) briefing on the development of vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus here.

Yesterday at the Governor’s press conference, Governor Reynolds said that Iowa’s response to Test Iowa the large-scale assessment and COVID-19 testing opportunity has been incredible. In the first 24 hours more than 80,000 thousand people took the online assessment. All Iowans are urged to take the online assessment at www.testiowa.com.  More than 250 scheduled an appointment to be tested. She said it’s the first step to understanding virus activity in Iowa.

The first Test Iowa drive through testing site opens north parking lot of Iowa Event Center on Saturday. Right now, Test Iowa is being prioritized for those with symptoms, those exposed and those who are essential or frontline workers. If you don’t qualify for testing now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get tested later. You can complete the assessment again (there’s no limit to the times you can take the assessment) if symptoms develop, or you think you’ve been exposed.

The Governor announced another long-term care center outbreak in Poweshiek county. IDPH is sending out long term care strike teams working with the National Guard, to Tama County to do surveillance testing of over 200 long-term care employees over two days, where they have seen COVID-19 cases emerging.

IDPH Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said there are still a lot of things we don’t know about the virus, but one thing we do know is that it spreads efficiently in settings where people live and work in close vicinity of each other. We don’t yet know how long immunity lasts or what that immunity means for reinfection. Serology tests that may show antibodies as evidence you’ve had the virus but recovered, will however provide additional information about the virus in Iowa. Each person at the Tama site will be given the option of diagnostic and serology testing.

The Governor emphasized that the more we know through increased testing, the more we can target the response and mitigation efforts with speed and accuracy and get life back to normal.

Federal Legislation

Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)

Timeline: After passage by voice vote in the Senate earlier this week, the House will consider the bill (H.R. 266) this afternoon. Once passed by the House, the President is expected to sign the bill this week.

Process: The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. today and begin an extended voting series, voting first on the establishment of the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Republicans may request a recorded vote on the Select Committee rule vote, which will add additional time. As members will be following protocols aimed at ensuring proper social distance, each vote will likely take an hour. After the vote on the Select Committee, there will be two hours of debate on the interim package and finally, a vote on final passage.

Policy: Text here. Section by section here. Summary of hospital and testing provisions here. Leader Schumer Dear Colleague on the bill here. See below for highlights from the bill. Notably, additional funding for state/local/tribal governments and SNAP/nutritional funding did not make it into the bill. 
  • $310 billion total for PPP with $250 billion unrestricted and a $60 billion set aside for smaller institutions:
    • $30 billion for assets less than $10 billion;
    • $30 billion for assets between $10 billion and $50 billion.
  • $50 billion for EIDL loans;
  • $10 billion for EIDL Advance grants;
  • $2.1 billion for SBA administrative expenses.
  • The bill also clarifies agriculture enterprises are eligible for PPP (they were eligible for 7(a) in the past, but they weren’t eligible for EIDL because they received disaster relief from USDA in the past). 
  • The bill did not expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)(6)s and 501(c)(7)s, but lawmakers have brought up the issue with Secretary Mnuchin, specifically regarding local and regional chambers of commerce. Treasury is currently looking into is whether they have enough regulatory authority to expand eligibility or if that requires a legislative fix.
  • $75B for hospitals and providers (summary of hospital and testing provisions here);
  • $25 billion for testing, broken into the following categories:
    • $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, scale-up laboratory capacity, trace contracts, and support employer testing.
      • $2 billion for states using the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant formula;
      • $4.5 billion provided to hotspot areas;
      • $750 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations in coordination with IHS.
    • $1 billion for the CDC for surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, contact tracing, public health data, and analytics infrastructure modernization;
    • $1.8 billion to NIH for testing and associated technologies and for partnerships to research and implement the activities;
      • (Note: This bill will roughly double the amount that Congress has appropriated for NIH for COVID-19 purposes so far.)
    • $ 1 billion for BARDA for advanced research, development, manufacturing, production and purchase of COVID-19 tests and related supplies;
    • $22 million for the FDA for diagnostic activities;
    • $825 million for Community Health Centers and rural health clinics;
    • $1 billion to cover costs of testing for the uninsured;
    • $6 million for the HHS Office of Inspector General.
Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0. / Phase 4

Timeline: Once passage on CARES 3.5 is complete and Congress takes a (brief) breather, attention will turn to the next spending bill, termed “CARES 2.0” by some and “COVID 4” by others. The House is still scheduled to return on May 4, but likely won’t be ready for a vote until mid- or late-May.

Process: House committees have already begun work on the bill. Democrats want it quickly; Republicans want to slow down and see how the spending so far has been used. There is a sense that Republicans are beginning to have “spending fatigue”.

Policy: This will likely be a large bill, at least $1 trillion. It’s unclear exactly what might be included in Phase 4. Some indicators point to an increasingly health-centered bill, with additional funding for state, local, and tribal governments, SNAP/nutritional funding, and additional unemployment support. Others seem to point to a bill that simply pluses up the programs funded in CARES. Some Republican members have pointed to a more economic stimulus and recovery-focused bill, with funding for infrastructure like broadband, roads, and bridges. Republicans have also voiced concern around energy industry losses and its implication for the broader economy.
 
Passed Legislation

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.

New information and guidance:
  • 4/20 – SBA/WH data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here.
  • 4/22 – Treasury issued guidance on the state/local/tribal governments fund here, and an FAQ here
Summary of Funding Available for Hospitals/Providers

Total funds available: $175 billion ($100 billion CARES + $75 billion COVID 3.5)
  • $30 billion has already been distributed.
  • $10 billion for current hotspots area – Top 100 counties based on COVID cases. Distributed today at 2:30 p.m.
  • $10 billion for future hotspots. Distributed in 45 days
  • $10 billion for rural healthcare. TBD
  • $400 million Native American healthcare. Distributed April 24
  • $20 billion to “reconcile” initial fund distribution
    • $9.3 billion for heavy Medicare / Medicaid providers, children hospitals, and other providers. Distributed April 24
    • $10.7 billion for providers with extreme loss through a provider certification form. TBD
  • $10 billion for the uninsured. Established next 10 days for application portal and 30 days for reimbursement
  • Balance: $85 billion. HHS is developing a plan to distribute these funds.
Title I – Small Business Loans
  • 4/3 – The Treasury Department released affiliation guidelines for the small business loan program. 
  • 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. See here for a report from SBA on approvals through 4/13. 
  • 4/16 – Treasury and the SBA announced that the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funding. Press release here.
    • Note: “By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations.”
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
    • Updated (as of 4/17) FAQ here
    • Clarification regarding loan forgiveness: the forgiveness period triggers on day of loan closing. Forgiveness on the loan is available for the 8 weeks after the loan closes. Businesses can use the funds to pay payroll prior to that 8 week period, but it won’t qualify for forgiveness
  • 4/20 – SBA/WH data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
Title II – 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 has indicated that the earliest Americans could receive relief payments from CARES was the week of April 13th. Those who will receive their relief through paper checks could take as long at 20 weeks to receive payment.
  • 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
Title III – Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 4/10 – HHS issued guidance, announcing the formula and mechanism in which hospitals will receive the first $30 billion in relief funding. The money does not have to be repaid and can be used for a variety of uses. The first tranche went to hospitals based on their Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. As total FFS payments were approx. $484 billion in 2019, a provider can estimate their payment by dividing their 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by 484 and multiply that ratio by 30. If the providers total 2019 Medicare FFS payments were Y, then (Y ÷ 484) x 30 = amount of relief. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
    • HHS is working on developing a plan for how to disburse another $30 billion for Medicaid-heavy providers and potentially a focus on pumping money to providers in hotspots.
  • Factsheet on accelerated and advance payments for providers/suppliers 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. The Department did not issue guidance on how colleges are to structure the program, but colleges will be required to sign a form certifying that the funds were used in accordance with the law. See here for the specific allocations for each college.
Title IV – Economic Stabilization
  • 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.
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
Division B – Appropriations
  • 4/8 –The FCC announced a two-part, $200 million COVID-19 telehealth program. The press release may be found here and the FCC order approved on Wednesday (4/8) can be found here.
  • 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);
      • 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. 
    • Payments to Tribal Governments will be determined by the Treasury Secretary in consultation with the Interior Secretary and Tribes. Consultation has not yet been completed.
  • 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.
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

Session: The House has announced that it will not reconvene before May 4. D.C. is currently under a stay-at-home order, and Maryland and Virginia have similar orders in place. In a Dear Colleague last week, Speaker Pelosi advised members to keep their schedule flexible and said that, in order to make up for lost time, the House may meet during weeks previously scheduled as District Work Periods. The Senate is in recess until April 20.

Appropriations/NDAA: Subcommittee markups have officially been postponed. While timing continues to be unclear, House Appropriations Committee (HAC) will likely stick to the original subcommittee order of markups, just shifting everything back by 2-3 weeks. The House may try to hold markups soon after the next package is passed, when all members have returned D.C. The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has floated two different allocations to subcommittee clerks, the differentiating factor between the two allocations being how VA Choice is treated. SAC has given subcommittees direction to stick with the original plan of marking up all of the bills in June.

This year’s NDAA markup has been “indefinitely postponed”. Reps. Adam Smith and Thornberry (HASC Chair and RM) sent a letter to the committee members saying that they will schedule the date of the markup once the House schedule for the next few months becomes clear. SASC Chairman Inhofe has said he aims to write the FY21 NDAA by the end of May but is flexible considering the circumstances.

Remote voting: After pushback from Republican House members, Speaker Pelosi pulled the proxy voting proposal from the agenda tomorrow, instead tasking a bipartisan group to review proposals for proxy voting and procedures to reopen the House. The group includes Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader McCarthy, Chairman McGovern (Rules), Ranking Member Cole (Rules), Chairwoman Lofgren (House Admin), and Ranking Member Davis (House Admin). The resolution proposed by Chairman McGovern here and includes protocols for proxy floor voting, and remote committee hearings and markups. Rules Majority proxy voting FAQ here. Leader McConnell, as of right now, is not supportive of any form of remote voting. 

Other Floor Action: The House has issued guidance indicated that Floor materials are to be submitted through a secure email address instead of dropped off at the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms. Members are still allowed to drop off materials in person. Speaker’s Dear Colleague on the guidance here

Hearings and Meetings: While most hearings and markups have been cancelled, some committee staff are working to see whether holding hearings virtually is possible. The Senate Rules Committee Democrats released a one-pager guidance on “paper hearings”, which stated “paper hearings” are not official hearings. The Senate Sergeant at Arms is exploring technology that would allow for remote hearings, though Leader McConnell remains opposed to any form of remote voting. Under current rules, the House does not allow virtual hearings. Chairman McGovern’s proxy voting proposal would also allow remote hearings and markups. The House Administration Committee is working on a report on best tools to be able to do virtual meetings. The Senate has advised offices to avoid using the video conferencing app Zoom over data security concerns. The Senate has not yet officially banned the application though.

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

Tested Positive (1): Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (0):

Recovered (6): 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)

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:
  • On April 29th from 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm ET, the FDA will host a virtual Town Hall for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for SARS-CoV-2.
  • President Trump signed an executive order mandating a 60-day halt in issuing green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the U.S.
  • CMS and ASPR released a new toolkit to help state and local healthcare decision makers maximize workforce flexibilities when confronting 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in their communities. This toolkit includes a full suite of available resources to maximize responsiveness based on state and local needs, building on President Trump’s commitment to a COVID-19 response that is locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.
  • The CDC and USDA confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 in two pet cats. They are the first domestic pets to test positive in the U.S.
  • HHS and HRSA announced that they awarded nearly $165 million to 14 Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) to help rural and underserved areas combat COVID-19. TRCs will be able to use the funds to provide hands-on technical support in areas such as equipment acquisition, payment policy, system design, and licensing and credentialing. The awards can be found here.
  • HHS is asking hospitals for information that it will use to allocate targeted payments from the COVID-19 provider relief fund. Hospitals must submit this requested information by Thursday night:
    • total number of intensive care beds as of April 10th  
    • total number of admissions of patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis from January 1st to April 10th
    • national provider identifier 
  • The Treasury Department released an FAQ sheet about the state and local section of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced emergency benefit increases for SNAP households in the U.S. USDA is providing a 40 percent increase in SNAP benefits to help families who have been hit with economic distress due to COVID-19.
  • More than 50 education and related national associations sent a letter to House leadership urging them to include Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-NY) recently introduced bill, H.R. 6563 (116) in the fourth coronavirus relief package. The bill would create a special $2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund administered through the FCC’s E-rate Program for schools and libraries to support remote learning. The funds would be used to purchase Wi-Fi hot spots, modems, routers, and internet-connected devices.
  • Per guidance issued yesterday, the Education Department will prohibit colleges from granting emergency assistance to undocumented students, even those currently under federal protection. The Department claims the CARES Act makes clear the relief fund should be used for U.S. citizens.
  • Today, the IRS will hold an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) discussion (with live Q&A) with the American public at 2pm ET.  Pre-registration is required. 
  • The CDC added 16 new or updated resources to its dashboard today, including information for other at-risk populations such as people experiencing homelessness and pregnant people, strategies to optimize the supply of PPE, and information about pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • DHS published notifications of two temporary travel restrictions: the extension of restriction between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada.
  • Dr. Rick Bright issued a statement about his removal from his post at BARDA. More background is available here.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 802,583 and 44,575 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The number of deaths due to COVID-19 may increase as autopsies in California are showing people may have been infected with the virus in the U.S. as early as the beginning of February. Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer of Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, said the newly diagnosed cases underlined that the virus was spreading undetected for weeks in the country in January and February.
  • President Trump has indicated that he believes it is too soon for gyms, hair salons, and tattoo parlors to reopen on Friday in Georgia.
  • South Dakota, Iowa, and North Dakota remain the only states without a stay-at-home order. South Dakota also does not have enforceable restrictions against large gatherings. The state has recorded 1,755 cases of the virus and eight COVID-19-related deaths.
  • Reopening Updates:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsome (D) announced that hospitals will now start to schedule essential surgeries, in coordination with Washington and Oregon, effective immediately.
    • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that Colorado’s stay-at-home mandate is being updated to a ‘safer-at-home’ mandate, with certain businesses reopening this Friday.
    • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced relaxed medical licensing restrictions to help meet the demands of the state’s healthcare needs.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that he will unveil plans to reopen the state on Friday.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said she will likely extend her stay-at-home order beyond April 30th even if she reopens parts of the state’s economy.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced the state’s stay-at-home order would be lifted effective April 26th.
  • Useful state data:
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country.
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard.
    • This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
    • This resource from Bloomberg Law is a database of State Quarantine and Public Health Laws related to the COVID-19 response.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19, and this tracker, created and maintained by MultiState Associates, has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
    • Finally, this site offers COVID-19 projections assuming full social distancing and can be broken down by state.
International Affairs
  • In Germany, a biotech company said today that a COVID-19 vaccine candidate it had developed with Pfizer has been approved for clinical testing in Germany. It would be what is believed to be the fourth trial to get underway internationally in the race for a vaccine.
  • WHO has launched a new online course on Standard precautions: Hand hygiene. The module has been prepared to help summarize the WHO guidelines on hand hygiene, associated tools and ideas for effective implementation. To date, there have been more than 1.5 million enrolments in the platform's courses to support the COVID-19 response.
  • All of Germany’s states have now made it mandatory to wear masks, however the rules about where masks will be required vary by state. For example, it will not be mandatory to wear a mask in Berlin while shopping.
  • India has seen a drastic clearing of pollution since implementing a lockdown. The deadliest particle in Delhi's air is particulate matter (PM) 2.5, which increases the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. PM 2.5 come from combustion like fires, cars, and power plants. One research group found that the levels of PM 2.5 in Delhi during the lockdown plummeted to 20 micrograms per cubic meter with a 20-day average of 35. To put this into context, between 2017 and 2019, the monthly average of PM 2.5 in the capital was up to four times higher.
  • Amazonas has been among the hardest-hit states in Brazil with over 2,270 confirmed cases and nearly 200 deaths. Elsewhere in Brazil, officials in Manaus have had to create a mass grave at the edge of a cemetery. The mayor of Manaus said, “The health care system no longer has the capacity to provide care to the patients that need it and people are starting to die at home.”
  • Haitian government officials are admitting they are unprepared to deal with COVID-19. The country has only 60 ventilators for 11 million people. The government has recently attempted to buy much-needed equipment (including tens of thousands of masks from Cuba) but health officials say it’s too little, too late.
  • Officials in Taiwan are looking to turn their success in battling COVID-19 into a geopolitical win, sending millions of masks marked with “made in Taiwan” to countries hit hard by the crisis and launching a diplomatic and public relations campaign. The island is promoting itself as a model of democracy to try to undercut China’s own campaign to use the crisis to tout the strength of its authoritarian system, though Beijing has waved off the effort as an attempt to “seek independence under the pretext of the pandemic.”
  • Eight infants and toddlers at a care center in Tokyo have tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns about a wider outbreak at care facilities in the country for neglected or abused children.
  • Global Cases:  2,471,136               Total Deaths:  169,006
Lifestyle and Economy
  • The WTI rebounded and gained 20 percent after a devastating last two days.
  • The S&P 500 is also up today, climbing by more than 2 percent. Chipotle Mexican Grill came out on top today with an S&P gain of 14 percent.
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg published a piece about “How Data Can Aid the Fight Against COVID-19.”
  • New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) approved a benefits program for workers who die from COVID-19-related causes as the death toll among its workforce rose to 83. MTA officials have faced criticism from some workers who say the authority was slow to respond to the crisis. In particular, they are angry that some workers either weren’t allowed to wear face masks or weren’t provided with them during the first weeks of March. The benefit pays $500,000 to a spouse or beneficiary of a worker who dies because of the new coronavirus. It also provides three further years of health coverage for the person’s spouse and dependents.
  • Multiple large Universities, including Stanford and Princeton, have said they will not accept the funds allocated to them under the COVID-19 stimulus package. Harvard was set to receive nearly $9 million, but said the government should allocate it elsewhere after they faced extended criticism from the academic and small business sectors.  
  • Two Tennessee brothers who stockpiled 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer have avoided prosecution and a fine, but they will not recoup the thousands of dollars they spent on the supplies under the terms of a price-gouging settlement that the state attorney general announced this week. The brothers, Matt Colvin and Noah Colvin, donated the supplies last month to people in Tennessee and Kentucky, which the authorities said on Tuesday was acceptable as restitution and was a factor in the settlement terms in the highly publicized case.
  • The New York Times is tracking media layoffs.
  • Americans can track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank-account information to get their money faster via direct deposit on a new IRS website.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • The New York Times has started its own tracker of cases in the U.S. to fill in the gaps left by agency data.
  • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found here (music), here (tech), here (general), and here (sports/entertainment).
Helpful Articles/Media
Please contact me directly with any questions and I would be happy to assist.

Sincerely,
Jessica

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


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