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COVID-19 Update
March 26, 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.

Iowa Update

Thank you to the IowaBio member companies like Corteva and ADM who have donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to stem PPE shortages and help healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response in Iowa! To donate PPE, please contact your county public health department or local emergency manager.  Local health department contact information can be found at https://idph.iowa.gov/lphs/local-public-health-agencies, county emergency management agency information can be found at https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/documents/county/COORD_Public_List.pdf

Newly released state and federal unemployment numbers look dismal.  Iowa Workforce Development released its statistics this morning in a press release. The number of initial claims filed between Sunday, March 15, and Saturday, March 21, (the first time period that reflects the increased number of claims filed related to COVID-19, including the broader group of individuals eligible for claims due to the virus) was 40,952. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims as a result of COVID-19 will be available in next Thursday's release. A total of $10,674,711.86 of unemployment insurance benefits were paid to Iowans for the week ending on March 20. The top five industries with the most COVID-19 related claims in that time period are as follows: 
  • Accommodation and Food Services (13,364)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (4,936)
  • Education Services (2,698)  
  • Other Services (1,999)
  • Retail Trade (1,710)  
For more on these statistics click here.

Nationally, the picture doesn’t get better. A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment claims in the week ending March 21—an increase of 3 million from the previous week--according to U.S. Department of Labor data released today. The National unemployment rate was near a 50-year low just weeks ago.

Governor Kim Reynolds will hold a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. The press conference will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page, you tube and Iowa PBS.
 
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 34 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 179 positive cases. There have been a total of 2,975 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 
 
According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 34 individuals include:
  • Appanoose County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
  • Black Hawk County, 1 middle-age adult (18-40 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 middle-age (18-40 years), 1 older (61-80 years), 1 elderly (81+)
  • Clayton County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Des Moines County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 elderly (81+)
  • Johnson County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 4 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older (61-80 years)
  • Linn County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 3 middle-aged adults (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Mahaska County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Monona County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Page County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Polk County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 middle-aged (41-60 years), 1 older (61-80 years)
  • Pottawattamie County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Scott County, 1 elderly, 3 middle-aged (41-60 years)
  • Sioux County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Washington County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)
A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431. The state of Iowa has started sharing the number of negative tests conducted at outside labs, and is providing additional information on the conditions of those infected with COVID-19. 
 
Yesterday at her afternoon press conference, Governor Reynolds answered questions from the press on everything from, testing for COVID-19, price gouging and supplies shortages, supplies of personal protective equipment, child care, can and bottle redemption and shelter-in-place orders. She has not issued a shelter-in-place order, despite calls from some Iowa urban city Mayors. She stressed that all Iowans can be responsible and help the most vulnerable, and continue to implement social distancing and hygiene measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

Federal Legislation

Supplemental III –  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Final text is here. Republican section by section here. Democratic summary here. The timeline and some highlights of the bill are below:

Legislative Timeline:  The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill last night 96-0 on the passage of the bill after rejecting an amendment by Sens. Sasse, Scott, and Graham to limit some of the UI provisions. The House is expected to attempt unanimous consent sometime Thursday or Friday, with fallback options developing if such an attempt fails.

Process and Politics: Leaders McConnell and Schumer announced a deal on the bill early Wednesday morning. After multiple texts and summaries being circulated throughout the day, final text of the bill was released Wednesday evening. Before text was officially released (but after a deal had been announced), some Republicans expressed reservations about the unemployment insurance provisions in the bill, leading to Sen. Sasse offering an amendment to the bill. Sen. Sanders pushed back, threatening to block the bill if the provisions were removed.

Since Tuesday, negotiations had shifted the bill in Democrats’ favor, leaving some Republicans frustrated. While this context might not matter for this bill’s passage, Republicans may be less willing to compromise and include Democratic priorities in later supplementals.

Policy: Despite the multiple texts and summaries circulating, official text was released at 10 p.m. yesterday. Some items (unemployment insurance, nonprofit eligibility in certain programs) that appeared to have been settled, were again subject to negotiations.

Bill highlights:

Small Business Loans (Title I) – Committee section by section here and one pager here, minority one pager here
  • $350 billion for new Paycheck Protection Program, which would provide small businesses 8 weeks of cashflow assistance. The portion of the loan are used for payroll support (employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, and other overhead like mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments) would be forgiven if employees (and salaries) are retained.
    • Defines eligibility as businesses, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and Tribal businesses up to 500 employees and includes self-employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors.
  • $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
Individual Relief (Title II) – summary here
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for individuals not usually eligible for UI (self-employed, independent contractors, as well as individuals who are unable or unavailable to work (but not actually laid off or unemployed) because their place of employment is closed “as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency”) through 12/31/2020.
  • Four months of $600/week boost to individuals’ unemployment insurance (benefits per recipient varies by state).
  • 2020 Recover Rebates: $1,200 to each person with a social security number (nondependents), with a grant of $500 per child with an income phase out for those with incomes over $75,000.
  • Waiver of early withdrawal penalties for withdrawals (up to $100,000) from certain retirement accounts for COVID-19-related purposes.
Business Tax Relief (Title II) – summary here
  • Delays OASDI payroll taxes, payable over two years with half due by 12/31/21 and the remainder due by 12/31/22;
  • Provides refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis (tax-exempt 501(c) organizations excluded);
  • Relaxes limitations on net operating losses;
  • Increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct (Increases limitation threshold increased from 30% to 50% of EBITDA for tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020);
  • Treats corporate AMT credits as refundable for 2018 onward; and
  • TCJA technical correction on QIP (confirms repairs and improvements are eligible for a 15-year class life and eligible for bonus depreciation/full expensing);
  • Temporary exception for excise taxes on alcohol when used to produce hand sanitizer.
Health Care Infrastructure Support (Title III) – summary here
  • Provisions to address medical product supply shortages, including drug and device shortages;
  • Mandates COVID-19 testing is free, requires private insurance to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccines;
  • $1.3 billion for community health centers;
  • Reauthorizes HRSA grant programs that promote the use of telehealth technologies;
  • Expands liability protections for PPE manufacturers as well as doctos practicing across state lines;
  • Requires HHS guidance on protected health information sharing.
Education (also Title III) – one pager here
  • Allows students to defer student loan payments for 6 months and to keep their Pell grants;
  • Allows colleges/universities to continue to pay students for work-study;
  • Waives federal testing/accountability rules for K-12.
Senate Finance Jurisdiction Health Provisions (still Title III) – summary here
  • Temporary suspension of Medicare Sequestration (5/1/2020 – 12/31/2020);
  • Increases DRG weighting factor for those diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Expand an existing Medicare accelerated payment program, where qualified hospitals would be able to receive up to six months advanced payment (based on net reimbursement of unbilled discharges/unpaid bills);
  • Allows HSAs to cover telehealth prior to deductible as well as over-the-counter medical products without a prescription;
Economic Stabilization (Title IV) – summary here
  • Federal Reserve lending program to provide liquidity for industry in the form of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments. 
    • $500 billion in treasury-administered loans with specifically:
      • $25 billion for passenger air carriers,
      • $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and
      • $17 billion for businesses “critical to maintaining national security”,
    • The remaining $454 billion would be dedicated for all other businesses.
    • Oversight regulations, including restrictions on exec salaries, establishment of IG within Treasury for Pandemic Recovery, disqualifies companies with ties to President/VP/Department head/Congress from eligibility, and creates a Congressional Oversight Committee.
    • Specific worker protections (see here for summary) and limits on stock buybacks, dividends, furloughs, and worker pay cuts.
  • Air Carrier Worker Support: $32 billion in grants to be used explicitly for employee wages, salaries, and benefits:
    • $25 billion to passenger air carriers,
    • $4 billion to cargo air carriers,
    • $3 billion to contractors.
  • Housing support in the form of a temporary ban on eviction filings, ban on foreclosures of federally-backed mortgage loans, forbearance for certain borrowers.
  • $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states, territories, and Tribal governments, with $1.25 billion minimum for small states. Formula includes county size and population.
Coverage of testing and preventative services:
  • Coverage of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 Clarifies that all testing for COVID-19 is to be covered by private insurance plans without cost sharing, including those tests without an EUA by the FDA.
  • Pricing of diagnostic testing. For COVID-19 testing covered with no cost to patients, requires an insurer to pay either the rate specified in a contract between the provider and the insurer, or, if there is no contract, a cash price posted by the provider.
  • Rapid coverage of preventive services and vaccines for coronavirus. Provides free coverage without cost-sharing of a vaccine within 15 days for COVID-19 that has in effect a rating of “A” or “B” in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force or a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Over the Counter Drug Review:
  • Regulation of certain nonprescription drugs that are marketed with an approved drug application Reforms the regulatory process for over-the-counter (OTC) drug monographs by allowing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve changes OTC drugs administratively, rather than going through a full notice and comment rulemaking. Currently, FDA can approve all other drugs without going through a full notice and comment rulemaking, and this legislation makes sure OTC medicines receive the same treatment as other drugs. Incentivizes companies to create more innovative products by providing an 18-month market-exclusivity component that rewards a return on investment for new OTC drugs.
Innovation:
  • Removing the cap on OTA for public health emergencies. Allows the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to more easily partner with private sector on research and development, which includes helping to scale up manufacturing as appropriate, by removing the cap on other transaction authority (OTA) during a public health emergency.
     
  • Priority zoonotic animal drugs. Provides Breakthrough Therapy designations for animal drugs that can prevent human diseases – i.e. speed up the development of drugs to treat animals to help prevent animal to-human transmission, which is suspected to have occurred with outbreak of novel coronavirus, leading to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Hand Sanitizer Production:
  • Temporary exception from excise tax for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer The provision waives the federal excise tax on any distilled spirits used for or contained in hand sanitizer that is produced and distributed in a manner consistent with guidance issued by the Food and Drug Administration and is effective for calendar year 2020.
Appropriations (majority section by section here):
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund Provides $150 billion to States, Territories, and Tribal governments to use for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 in the face of revenue declines, allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations.
  • $117 billion for hospitals and Veterans Health Care, with $16 Billion dedicated to the Strategic National Stockpile
  • $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
  • $4.3 billion for the CDC, with $1.5 billion toward state and local preparedness grants;
  • $15 billion for SNAP;
  • $10.5 billion for DOD, with $1 billion for implementation of the Defense Production Act, over $3 billion for defense health programs, and $1.5 billion for National Guard support for states/territories;
  • $400 million for election security grants for states.
  • Airport Improvement Program (AIP) – $10 billion to maintain operations at nation’s airports that are facing a record drop in passengers. AIP funds will be distributed by formula
Supplemental IV and onward
Leadership has agreed on drafting a fourth and fifth supplemental – unclear what will be included yet.
 
Passed Legislation
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
The Senate passed the bill 90-8 Wednesday afternoon 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
House is currently in recess but will be called back when votes are needed on the next supplemental (with 24-hour notice). House Democratic leaders have said that members will not have to return until after a deal the supplemental is reached.

Senate is in session. Leader McConnell has said the Senate will stay in session until a third supplemental has passed. After passage of the third supplemental, the Senate plans to recess until April 20.

As of right now, the appropriations markup schedule is unchanged. Most House bills have subcommittee markup dates the weeks of April 21 and April 28, while the Senate has not yet set its markup dates.
 
Remote voting: Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell have both voiced opposition to members’ voting remotely, but as more members of Congress have begun self-quarantining and the pandemic makes travel more treacherous, in-person voting may become more difficult. Remote voting is being discussed to some extent in both chambers. On Monday, the House Committee on Rules Majority released a staff report on voting options. The report discusses unanimous consent, proxy voting, as well as the logistics (and security concerns) of remote voting. Additionally, the Attending Physician of Congress is working on a plan ensure members are able to vote on the floor safely. Similarly, in its notice of the vote Sunday, the Senate Cloakroom encouraged members to socially distance during votes. In the Senate, Sens. Durbin, Portman, and Klobuchar working on a way for Senators to vote remotely, but Leader McConnell, as of right now, is not supportive. 

Virtual hearings: While most hearings and markups for the next week or so have been cancelled, some committee staff are working to see whether holding hearings virtually is possible.

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

Tested Positive (3): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (31): Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)

Completed Quarantine (4): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
 
Other Federal Actions
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS issued guidance on how covered entities may disclose protected health information about an individual who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities in compliance with HIPAA.
  • Today, the USTR announced the U.S. would grant tariff exclusions for more medical products from China. The new categories of medical equipment excluded from tariffs include refillable dispensers, sterile urology drain bags, ice bags, and wristbands.
  • Yesterday, the FDA labeled Gilead Sciences’ experimental drug remdesivir an orphan drug, which provides a seven-year market exclusivity period as well as tax and other incentives for the drug company. Remdesivir is seen as a promising potential treatment for coronavirus. Today, Gilead Sciences asked the FDA to rescind the orphan drug designation after intense criticism that it unfairly pursued a lucrative monopoly for remdesivir.
  • The CDC has launched a COVID-19 symptom self-checker. According to the CDC, the purpose of the self-checker, a bot named Clara, is to help make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. But the system is not meant to diagnose or provide treatment options for COVID-19 or other conditions.
  • The FDA announced multiple actions taken in its ongoing response effort to COVID-19.
  • CDC will be releasing guidance tomorrow on how to utilize national parks while practicing social distancing.
  • The CDC says that health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 must first receive negative tests before they can go back to work.
  • Secretary Azar sent a letter to all 50 governors encouraging them to relax state licensure laws to promote the use of telemedicine, including enabling out-of-state practitioners to serve residents of their state during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ben McAdams (D-UT) are still the only members of Congress who have tested positive for COVID-19; however, 26 other members are now in self-quarantine. Four members have completed a self-quarantine.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 54,453  travel-related: 584  “close contact”: 986 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The CDC is reporting 737 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • This weekend, New York’s hospitalizations were doubling every two days. Now, they seem to be doubling every 4.7 days. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hopeful that this is due to strict social distancing standards. New York City now has nearly 17,900 confirmed cases.
  • There are now school closures in all 50 states. This site maps school closures across states in counties.
  • A coalition of governors, legislators, and mayors sent a letter to the President requesting a delay on federal rulemaking beginning on March 11th. The letter asks the Administration to extend agency comment periods given the impact of coronavirus on participation in the rulemaking process.
  • Hawaii is asking tourists to stay away for a month, Alaska is requiring a 14-day quarantine for incoming visitors, and Florida has asked New Yorkers to please vacation elsewhere.
  • Pennsylvania’s April 28th primary will now be held on June 2nd. It is the 10th state to postpone its election because of COVID-19. June 2nd will now yield the second highest number of delegates after Super Tuesday. The other nine states to have postponed presidential primaries are Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
  • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19, and this tracker maintained by MultiState Associates has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
International Affairs
  • At a joint virtual press briefing, Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock, UN Children’s Fund Executive Director Henrietta Fore, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched a $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect the millions most at risk.
  • Italy’s daily death toll increased again today after two days of stunted growth, leading the Italian government to fear the worst is not over yet. The country has now reported 69,176 cases of the illness and 6,920 deaths from COVID-19.  
  • Spain has now joined Italy in surpassing China’s COVID-19 death toll.
  • 71-year-old Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a weeklong national holiday starting this Saturday to mitigate COVID-19 spread and announced the postponement of a referendum next month on whether he can rule until 2036. He said of the virus today, “Don’t think that, ‘this doesn’t concern me.’ It concerns everyone.”
  • Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio introduced a 12-month state of emergency to deal with COVID-19, despite the country being one of the few yet to declare a case.
  • The WHO said today that 85 percent of new COVID-19 cases reported have been in Europe and the U.S.
  • India began its three-week lockdown today in a last-ditch effort to prevent major spread of the virus. The Indian government has promised to release a package of relief measures to help its citizens but has not provided any details.
  • Global Cases:  414,179    Total Deaths:  18,440
Featured Resources

Resources available to Iowa small businesses 


The state and federal government are taking action to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some resources that have been announced recently:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued a disaster declaration for the state of Iowa as of January 31, 2020 and continuing. The declaration allows pandemic-impacted small businesses to apply for low-interest support loans. The declaration comes after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds submitted a federal 

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

You can find details on SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and information on how to apply for it here

For a full list of resources and counseling provided by SBDC, click here.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued a disaster declaration for the state of Iowa as of January 31, 2020 and continuing. The declaration allows pandemic-impacted small businesses to apply for low-interest support loans. The declaration comes after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds submitted a federal funding request via the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. 

There’s more support coming for Iowa small business owners facing economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic, in the form of new relief grants, tax deferrals and low-interest loans.  

A new Small Business Relief Program that will provide financial assistance to Iowa-based small businesses with two to 25 employees experiencing business disruption. Eligible companies can receive grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000, in addition to the potential deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and a waiver of penalties and interest. 

The deadline to apply is March 31 at noon.
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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