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COVID-19 Update
May 4, 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 528 additional positive cases for a total of 9,169 positive cases. There have been an additional 2,932 negative tests for a total of 44,017 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 77 percent of new positive cases yesterday were in the 22 counties where social distancing restrictions remain in place.
 
According to IDPH, over the weekend from Friday through Sunday, an additional 22 deaths were also reported. 378 are currently hospitalized, and 3,325 Iowans have recovered. At this time, 1 in 59 Iowans have been tested. 
 
The state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county.
 
The Legislative Services Agency published an outlook on Iowa’s tax revenue receipts through April 30, taking a look at the last Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) state revenue projection and comparing to last year’s revenue. April 2020 net General Fund revenue was $318.0 million (-38.9%) below the April 2019 revenue level. The REC, which help project state revenues for the legislature and the Governor based on various economic data and factors, has not yet scheduled another meeting.
 
Part of the significant decrease experienced over this time frame resulted from tax filing extensions ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LSA said. The paper posits that as business losses become evident and sorted out from tax filing delays, the situation will become more severe.
 
According to LSA data, major sources of revenue and their contributions to the FY 2020 year-to-date revenue change include:
  • Personal income tax (negative $201.1 million, -4.9%).
  • Sales/use tax (positive $157.9 million, 6.3%).
  • Corporate tax (negative $31.5 million, -5.6%).
  • Other taxes (positive $15.7 million, 7.0%).
  • Other receipts (positive $4.4 million, 1.6%).
  • Tax refunds not including school infrastructure refunds (negative $35.1 million).
  • School infrastructure sales/use tax refunds (positive $5.0 million).
As Iowa begins to slowly reopen and loosen social distancing restrictions in 77 of its 99 counties, here’s a New York Times map showing how we compare to the rest of the country right now.
Federal Legislation

Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0. / Phase 4

Timeline: Speaker Pelosi indicated that she aims to convene the House during the week of May 11, but noted that “we are at the mercy of the virus”. Leader McConnell still plans to have the Senate in session this week but will be focused on nominations and other hearings. Speaker Pelosi could introduce a bill as early as this week, but a vote will likely be weeks away. The overall timeline will be much longer than previous bills, as Republicans and the White House (for the time being) are unified in the message of waiting to see what is working, what needs to be fixed, and how some states’ reopenings are faring.

Process/Politics: House Democrats are taking the lead on introducing a bill first. However, as far as negotiations with Republicans goes, finding compromises on this bill may be more difficult than past bills. Negotiations will likely mimic past bills with the key negotiators as Speaker Pelosi, Secretary Mnuchin, and Leader McConnell.

Policy: We’re back in the liminal space between bills, where a bill has yet to be introduced, a deal has yet to be reached, and there is a fluid and wide-ranging debate occurring on what should be included. Parties are laying down markers and proposals are being unveiled.

House Democrats are of the mind that more needs to be done on the stabilization/mitigation fronts before moving on to recovery efforts and have been focused on policies that allow the country to reopen safely. Speaker Pelosi stated that there won’t be a package that strictly provides additional funding for PPP if it runs out, indicating that it will be included in the next package.

One of the main debates has been on funding for state, local, and tribal governments, including the overall funding level and how it will be distributed. Speaker Pelosi said that state and local governments should receive $1 trillion and a bill should provide mechanisms to spend the money over time. Senate Republicans have been discussing various ways to tie any funding going to states to combatting the virus. States’ rainy day funds may be part of the calculus for the next round of funding. Chairman Richard Neal (Ways and Means) indicated he planned to introduce a general revenue sharing proposal for cities and states reminiscent of a 70s and 80s-era program. The program would give largely unconditional grants to states and local governments.

Other Democratic priorities include centralization of the medical supply chain, implementing a national testing strategy, Heroes fund for front-line workers, funding for election security and assistance as well as a vote-by-mail, increased funding for nutrition assistance, extensions of unemployment insurance. Other priorities that have been discussed include housing relief, another round of direct payments to individuals, expansion of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program to businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees. Unclear where infrastructure fits in the discussion but there is still a desire to move to that at some point – broadband infrastructure may be the exception to this rule and be included in Phase 4, as distance learning and telemedicine become more essential and has bipartisan appeal.

Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy indicated that they will not agree to any coronavirus stimulus bill that does not include liability protections for employers. Republicans may push back on an extension on the federal add-on to unemployment insurance, as employers have said it offers an incentive to not return to jobs. Republicans are also focused on supply chain security, especially as it relates to China.

The Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter on Wednesday to Democratic leadership indicating their priorities for the next bill. Text of the letter here. Highlights include the following:
  • Provisions affecting individuals:
    • Moratoriums on consumer and small business credit payments, utility shutoffs;
    • Additional rounds of direct payments to individuals and families, with the definition of a dependent to include children younger than 19, students 24 and younger, and individuals of any age who are disabled;
    • Release incarcerated individuals through clemency/commutation, release all juveniles convicted of a non-violent crime, temporary releases to home confinement for low-risk to the community individuals who are high-risk for COVID-19 (over age 55, medical conditions etc.);
    • Increase SNAP benefits, expand eligibility (college students in need), waive work requirements, waive hot-food requirement, provide funding to support delivery of food;
  • Businesses:
    • Support for minority depository institutions (MDIs);
    • 100% payroll tax rebate for small businesses and 200% refund of payroll taxes paid by small businesses in hotspot areas;
    • Emergency funding for grants to small businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans to upgrade technology, cybersecurity, and resilience;
    • Tax credits for manufacturers of PPE and other resources;
  • Health
    • Over $100 billion for CHCs, and other programs, including HRSA grant program for mental health workforce and telemedicine; 
    • Special enrollment period;
    • Require CDC & HHS to collect and distribute data on racial/ethnic health disparities related to the pandemic;
  • Education
    • Total student loan debt cancellation and allow deferral of student loan payments with no interest for the duration of the crisis;
    • Additional funding for school districts and higher ed institutions to support added technology costs;
  • General
    • $82 billion for rural broadband funding;
    • $10 billion to create a State Emergency Fund for state/territory/tribal governments that have not received emergency assistance;
    • Suspension of the Administration’s retaliatory tariffs;
    • Require every state to establish a vote-by-mail system and establish a national vote-by-mail system, required that all states offer no-excuse mail-in absentee voting;
    • Direct federal support for local governments with populations less than 500,000;
    • $8 billion for CDBG;
    • $35 billion to establish a housing assistance fund across all 50 states, DC, and territories.
    • Additional funding for science and research (EPA and STAR);
    • Establishment of grant or loan program for faith institutions and the nonprofit sector (501(c)4, 501(c)5 and 501(c)6 organizations and nonprofits with over 500 employees).
Last Thursday afternoon, House Democrats, led by Majority Whip Clyburn, released a Democratic plan to “Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet”. The bill is an expansion of the broadband provisions in the Moving Forward Framework and was formulated by the House Rural Broadband Task Force, E&C, and other members of the House Democratic Caucus. Press release here. Highlights include:
  • $80 billion over five years for broadband infrastructure, prioritizing communities with persistent poverty; 
  • $5 billion over five years for low-interest financing for broadband infrastructure;
  • Establishes a new office within the NTIA aimed at coordinating federal agencies and application processes, ensuring tech-neutrality and efficiency in funding, and tracking all federal funds used for broadband;
  • Requires ISPs to offer an affordable option;
  • Increases and expands eligibility for broadband payment support;
  • Directs FCC to collect pricing data and make that data public;
  • $1 billion for a grant program for states aimed at closing gaps in broadband adoption and digital inclusion;
Other Legislation to Watch:
  • Chairman Wicker (Commerce) and others announced plans to introduce a privacy bill specifically focused on privacy issues related to COVID-19. Highlights include:
    • Protections for use of non-HIPPA covered health data as well as proximity and geospatial data for companies under FCC jurisdiction, common carriers, and non-profits. 
    • Companies must receive consent to use the data and have a privacy policy that explains what they are doing with the data, how long they will keep it and explanations of data mining and security policies. 
    • Companies will have to report every 30 days in aggregate on their compliance and use of data. 
    • The legislation is designed to be pre-emptive with state AG enforcement for the duration of the COVID crisis. 
    • There are exceptions for de-identified, aggregate, and publicly available data, and if there is a legal obligation for the individual to provide that data there is an exception. 
    • This bill does not apply to public health entities, but it is unclear the impact it may have on companies seeking to do business with public health agencies for contract tracing purposes.
    • The bill is partisan, with the primary Democratic objection being that there is no private right of action clause. 
Passed Legislation

Implementation Information and Guidance

New information/guidance:
  • 5/1 – As part of the $100 billion dedicated to hospitals and health providers in CARES, HHS is distributing funding to “hotspot” hospitals and providers early next week. HHS will be distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020. $2 billion of the funding will be distributed based on low-income/uninsured data (Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments). Money will go out Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
    • These 395 hospitals accounted for 71 percent of COVID-19 inpatient admissions reported to HHS from nearly 6,000 hospitals around the country.
    • A $10 billion rural distribution will include, rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers located in rural areas.
    • Hospitals and RHCs will each receive a minimum base payment plus a percent of their annual expenses. This expense-based method accounts for operating cost and lost revenue incurred by rural hospitals for both inpatient and outpatient services. The base payment will account for RHCs with no reported Medicare claims, such as pediatric RHCs, and CHCs lacking expense data, by ensuring that all clinical, non-hospital sites receive a minimum level of support no less than $100,000, with additional payment based on operating expenses. Rural acute care general hospitals and CAHs will receive a minimum level of support of no less than $1,000,000, with additional payment based on operating expenses. Money also expected to be sent via wire Tuesday/Wednesday.
  • 4/30 – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the FAA will begin awarding the AIP and other discretionary grants funding through the CARES Act. Press release here. Complete list of grants here. Map of airports receiving funding here.
  • 4/30 – IRS issued guidance that most expenses funded by forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are non-deductible for federal income tax purposes.
  • 4/30 – Federal Reserve released the term sheets and other information relating to its expansion of scope and eligibility of the Main Street Lending Program. Term sheets and other information here. Other information on other facilities and programs here.
  • 4/29 – IRS released an updated FAQ on the employee retention credit here.
  • 4/29 – SBA released an updated FAQ on the Paycheck Protection Program.
Previously Reported Implementation Information and Guidance

Small Business Loans
  • 4/29 – SBA announced that from 4:00-11:49pm on 4/29, SBA systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. The move was aimed at ensuring access to the PPP loan program for smaller lenders and their customers.
  • 4/28 – SBA announced it would no longer accept PPP loan applications submitted by robotic processing systems.
  • Treasury released an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program on how lenders will calculate loan amounts for employers with seasonal employees. Rule here.
  • 4/24 – SBA issued a procedural guidance on participation sales here.
  • 4/24 – SBA released an interim final rule on requirements for Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation, and Eligibility. Interim Final Rule here. Additional eligibility criteria and requirements for certain loans here.
  • 4/24 – Data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
  • 4/23 – The Treasury Department asked all publicly traded companies that received funds under the program to return the funds within two weeks.
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule on the small business provisions in the bill. See here for a memo Cornerstone put together on the interim final rule.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
    • PPP FAQ here (as of 4/23)
Individual and Business Tax Relief
  • IRS guidance on deferral of payroll taxes here
  • House Ways and Means factsheet on Economic Impact Rebate portal here
  • IRS’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here (updated 4/29)
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 4/27 – Outline of the Provider Relief Fund with additions from COVID 3.5 here.
  • 4/27 – Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million in discretionary grant funds will be available for states to use to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to COVID-19. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • 4/26 – CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program (AAP) and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. Since expanding the AAP programs on March 28th, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. For providers who have already applied for the program, the announcement doesn’t affect them. Press release here.
    • The announcement came as a surprise to Democrats, who were actively negotiating with the department officials on modifying the program.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on how the next $60 billion in the health relief fund will be distributed. HHS has committed that it will send out an additional $60 billion dollars in the coming weeks, much of it coming within the next 10 days. That funding will be distributed as follows:
    • $10 billion for hotspots, which will be for the top 100 counties with Covid-19 cases to date. Payments are expected to be distributed by Wednesday, April 29. The funding will be based on total ICU beds and Covid-19 patient admissions, cumulatively for the period from January 1 to April 10. An additional weighting factor, using Medicaid DSH status, will provide a greater proportion of this funding to those that treat underserved patients.
    • $10 billion in additional hotspot funding, expected to go out in the next 45 days.
    • $10 billion for rural health care.
    • $400 million for Native American health care systems. Payments are expected to be distributed on Friday, April 24.
    • $20 billion to reconcile the inequities from the initial $30 billion, which was based on Medicare fee-for-service payments and left out providers that rely heavily on non-FFS payers. When combined with the initial $30 billion, this total will be calculated based on the provider’s portion of 2018 net patient revenue. Of this total, $9.3 billion will be released by Friday, and the remaining $10.7 billion will require providers to submit an application attesting to their revenue. Those payments will go out weekly on a rolling basis.
    • $10 billion to cover the cost of providing treatment for the uninsured. Applications will be accepted within 10 days, with payments going out within 30 days.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on changes to Medicare advance payment policies. The administration committed that, by the end of this week, Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows will release a letter stating that they will:
    • Use their administrative authority to reduce the interest rate down from what is currently 10.25 percent to a rate that is more in line with a traditional federal interest rate.
    • Use their administrative authority to extend the repayment period beyond 12 months.
    • Work with Congress and support legislation in Corona 4 that will place the liability for these payments in Treasury’s General Revenue fund, rather than the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Funds. The expansion of these programs must not adversely affect Medicare’s solvency or result in premium increases for seniors.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
  • 4/9 – Secretary DeVos indicated that she would be moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in CARES for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The grants can be used by college students for technology, course materials, food, housing, and healthcare. DeVos distributed the funding to colleges, which are meant to then distribute the aid among students. 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.
Economic Stabilization
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
  • 3/30 – The Treasury Department released guidance on payroll support to airline industry employees, and on loans to the airline industry and businesses critical to national security. Guidance for payroll support here. Guidance on procedures and minimum requirements for loans here. Treasury press release here.
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 4/27 – USDA announced that Kansas and Virginia have been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
  • 4/22 –  Treasury issued guidance on the state/local/tribal governments fund here. The guidance further defines what expenses qualify as “necessary expenditures” and provides examples as well as examples of ineligible expenses.
  • 4/13 – Treasury launched its web portal for payments to state, local, and tribal governments. Treasury announced that eligible government entities must provide required information by Friday, April 17 to receive payment within the 30-day window allowed under CARES and those that miss that deadline may not receive funding. Submission page here. Some highlights from the announcement below:
    • Funds are only allowed to be used for expenses which:
      • Are necessary expenses during the coronavirus emergency;
      • Were not accounted in the most recent budget (as of March 27, 2020);
      • 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. 
    • More than a dozen tribes have sued the Treasury Department over its guidance identifying Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as eligible entities for the fund. Last Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin said that the department would not be releasing funding until Tuesday, April 28 – two days after the deadline outlined in the CARES Act. The court on Monday preliminarily enjoined Treasury from disbursing funds to ANCs.
Oversight
  • 4/29 – Speaker Pelosi announced the members of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. The Democratic members are the following:
    • Chairwoman Maxine Waters (Financial Services)
    • Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (Oversight and Reform)
    • Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (Small Business)
    • Chairman Bill Foster (Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
    • Chairman Jamie Raskin (Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of Oversight and Reform Committee)
    • Chairman Andy Kim (Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access of Small Business Committee)
Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)

The President signed the bill into law on April 24. Text here. Section by section here. Summary of hospital and testing provisions here. DPCC one pager here. Senate Democrats summary of health provisions. Overview of commitments regarding health funding and Medicare advance payments the Administration made as part of negotiations.

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

After a unanimous vote by the Senate, the House passed the bill on March 27 and the President signed the bill into law shortly after. Final text here. Democratic summary here. Republican section by section here.

Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)

The Senate passed the House bill on March 18 and the President signed the bill into law that evening. Bill text here. Factsheet here. Bill section by section here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here.

Supplemental I – Coronavirus Supplemental

Signed by the President March 6. Text here, summary here.

Congress

Session: House leaders announced that the House would not, in fact, be returning this week. Leader Hoyer said that after consulting the House Attending Physician, leadership made the decision to not open back up. The Senate is still scheduled to be in session next week, but will have strict protocols. However, Republican and Democratic senators have been pressuring Senate leadership to reconsider. D.C. is currently under a stay-at-home order, and Maryland and Virginia have similar orders in place. Speaker Pelosi has advised members to keep their schedule flexible and said that the House may meet during weeks previously scheduled as District Work Periods.

Appropriations/NDAA: While specific timing continues to be unclear, HAC will likely stick to the original subcommittee order of markups, just shifting everything back. The first markups were slated to begin April 22 but will likely now be at the end of June/beginning of July. Committee staff and members are working to find a way to move forward. When markups occur will depend on when the House returns. Majority and minority staff have been discussing how to space out members appropriately during markups and using larger hearing rooms. 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 is looking to markup NDAA 2021 the week of June 8, with the goal to have a bill to floor before the 4th of July recess.   

Remote voting: A bipartisan group in the House is reviewing 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). There continues to be a push for remote voting. The New Democrat Coalition sent a letter on Monday supporting remote voting. 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 the House will not be in session next week, the Senate will be holding various hearings. Only the Chair and Ranking Member will be permitted to be in the room and other members will be participating virtually. Senators are being trained on how to use the technology this weekend.

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

Tested Positive (0):

Currently Self-Quarantined (0):

Recovered (7): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Completed Quarantine (37): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Other Federal Actions
  • The Senate will return to Washington today and start right back up with hearings. Some notable COVID-19 hearings are:
  • Here is this week’s COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
  • Yesterday, the CDC launched the SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology and Surveillance (SPHERES), a new national genomics consortium to coordinate SARS-CoV-2 sequencing across the U.S. Large-scale, rapid genomic sequencing of the virus that causes COVID-19 will allow public health experts to: monitor important changes in the virus as it continues to circulate; gain important insights to support contact tracing; provide crucial information to aid in identifying diagnostic and therapeutic targets; advance public health research in the areas of transmission dynamics, host response, and evolution of the virus.
  • On the heels of some promising results out of an NIH clinical trial, the FDA has issued an EUA for the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. While there is limited information known about the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat people in the hospital with COVID-19, the investigational drug was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the time to recovery in some patients. The EUA allows for remdesivir to be distributed in the U.S. and administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease (defined as patients with low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or more intensive breathing support such as a mechanical ventilator).
  • CDC has updated and published additional documents on its dashboard, including guidance for community and faith based organizations, new FAQ about lab testing and reporting, information for environmental health practitioners, and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), which is a population-based surveillance system that collects data on laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations among children and adults through a network of over 250 acute-care hospitals in 14 states.
  • The CDC released a report saying that at least 4,193 workers at 115 meatpacking plants in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19.
  • HUD Sec. Ben Carson announced the Department will allocate $685 million in COVID-19 relief funding to help low-income Americans residing in public housing. The funding was made available by the CARES Act and will be awarded to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) in the U.S. You can find the list of allocations here.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue approved a request from Minnesota to provide online purchasing of food to SNAP households. This approval will allow the states to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Minnesota’s SNAP participation is nearly 400,000 individuals, and nearly 200,000 households.
  • You can view CMS’s overview of recent COVID-19-related actions here.
  • Yesterday, HHS (through HRSA) awarded $20 million to increase telehealth access and infrastructure for providers and families to help prevent and respond to COVID-19. The funds will increase capability, capacity, and access to telehealth and distant care services for providers, pregnant women, children, adolescents, and families, and will assist telehealth providers with cross-state licensure to improve access to health care during the pandemic.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) wrote a letter to the House chief administrative officer and attending physician to ask how best to reopen the U.S. House and Capitol. In the letter, Hoyer seeks guidance on what is needed to disinfect surfaces, as well as information on how many staff members ought to return first in each office during a phased reopening.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 1,062,446 and 62,406 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an EO extending Michigan’s state of emergency through May 28th, and was protested by a crowd of armed, unhappy residents. She is ultimately agreeing to allow some construction and outdoor work to resume May 7th.
  • Following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) order to close Orange County beaches, thousands gathered to protest at Huntington beach.
  • Los Angeles is the largest city in the country to offer free testing to anyone, regardless of symptoms. On Thursday, which was the first day of free testing in the city, nearly 10,000 people were tested.
  • More than 150 workers on a construction project at a nuclear power facility in Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 90 are “active confirmed positive cases” and 81 are workers who recovered and are “available to return to work.” 
  • Lawmakers in Arizona, Georgia, and Hawaii are grappling with when to reconvene or begin their state legislative sessions.  
  • The Oklahoma legislature will resume on May 4th, per an EO signed today.
  • Rhode Island has canceled hearings and General Assembly meetings through May 8th.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed an EO keeping ski areas closed until May 23rd, which might sound unnecessary (skiing in May??) unless you’re from Colorado and have seen people skiing on the 4th of July.
  • Hundreds of people met to protest at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield and in downtown Chicago today, demanding that Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) lift the stay-at-home order that he recently extended until May 29th.
  • Updates on Lockdowns/Reopening:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended the state’s stay at home order through May 15th.
      • Gov. Grisham also authorized the lockdown of the Town of Gallup due to the high population of Navajo who live in the town, and the high incidence of COVID-19 within the Navajo Nation.
    • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) extended the stay home order until May 18th, but will allow curbside food pickup. As part of the EO, Gov. Walz strongly encourages all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade mask at all times when they leave their homes to any place where social distancing is difficult.
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) presented an approach his administration is considering to reopen Connecticut’s economy in phases beginning May 20th. The plan relies on metrics surrounding disease conditions, virus management, health care capacity and supplies, and the ability to continue social distancing practices.
    • Gov. David Ige (D) in Hawaii authorized Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell's reopening plan that started today.
    • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) presented her framework for gradually, safely re-opening the Kansas economy and getting Kansas back to work. Kelly’s framework, “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” is structured to return more flexibility to local community response efforts, while still operating under a statewide, regulatory baseline.
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) laid out the State’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery plan, designed to build a path forward and safely restart Nevada’s economy. The criteria includes a consistent downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization over a 14-day period, hospitals having the ability to maintain hospital capacity without employing Crisis Standards of Care, and expanded testing and case contract tracing.
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced he is implementing a new, modified Stay-at-Home Order (Stay at Home 2.0) which will be in effect until May 31st
    • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a "Stay Safe Ohio Order." The new order, which incorporates the openings of businesses and services announced as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan, will replace the previous "Stay at Home" order, which expires at midnight tonight.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that the statewide “Work-or-Home” order will be lifted and returned to voluntary status on May 4th. He also announced that beginning on May 4th, restaurants throughout the state may provide outdoor customer dining service in addition to existing take out, curbside, and delivery services. 
    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said he will be extending the state’s stay-at-home order until at least the end of May.
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is now tracking which states are reopening and which are still shut down.
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country.
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard.
    • 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.
Military/Defense
  • U.S. intelligence agencies have found no evidence that COVID-19 was created by humans or genetically modified in China.
  • Nearly 9,000 VA patients have tested positive for COVID-19 following a 2,000-case increase in the last five days. VA deaths have reached 512 while dozens of VA health sites have recorded more than 100 COVID-19 cases among patients.
  • After more than a month of isolating sailors and sanitizing the ship, there are 1,102 active cases of COVID-19 among USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors. An additional 53 sailors have recovered and one has died.
    • Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday today directed Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke to “conduct a follow-on command investigation into the events surrounding the outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt”. The report should be completed by May 27th.
International Affairs
  • The U.K. set a goal at the beginning of April to test 100,000 people a day for COVID-19 by the end of the month. Today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the U.K. had accomplished that goal.
  • As Israel lifts restrictions aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, the government is considering a points-based system to help determine who should consider isolating even after measures are removed. Clalit Health Services, a semipublic health care provider that serves about half of the Israeli population, has proposed a system that would assign points to help people determine their risk level and decide whether to remain at home after restrictions are lifted. Risk would be assigned based on the person’s health and age, and pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure would be worth a point each on one’s risk profile, as would a history of smoking, obesity, or hospitalizations.
  • Doctors in Italy and the U.K. are concerned about a small but growing number of children displaying symptoms of a rare blood-vessel disease, Kawasaki disease, that may be linked to COVID-19. In both countries, doctors have alerted their colleagues to look out for symptoms associated with the inflammatory condition that typically affects young children and has symptoms including stomach pain, skin rashes, and a high fever.
  • After authorities banned the annual May Day protest organized by trade unions in Hong Kong, a city which has imposed a law prohibiting more than four people gathering, riot police used pepper spray to clear a large group of demonstrators from a shopping mall.
  • Nigeria’s economy is struggling as crude oil demand remains low. At least seven vessels carrying 12 million barrels of unsold Nigerian oil—seven days of production—are currently stranded at sea.
  • India’s lockdown has been extended for an additional two weeks.
  • Some residents in Indonesia are refusing to allow bodies of those who have died from COVID-19 to be buried in their communities, despite government assurances that doing so is safe. In the capital, Jakarta, special police units have been formed to guard burial processions for COVID-19 victims, after protesters blocked streets in several cities in the world's largest Muslim-majority country to prevent the dead from being transported to cemeteries.
  • Global Cases:  3,524,429         Total Deaths:  247,838
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Today was college decision day but, of some 700 universities with a May 1st acceptance deadline, which include many of the country’s most competitive, about half have already given students an extra month to decide. Many students are hoping to wait to make their decisions until they know if campuses will be open in the fall. For some, the issue is purely because they want the true college experience. For others, it comes down to not wanting to pay full tuition for virtual classes.
  • After conversations about privacy with governments and public health app developers, Apple and Google plan to implement stronger privacy protections in their forthcoming COVID-19 contact-tracing tool. Tracking keys will be more randomly generated, Bluetooth will be encrypted, and apps that use the tool will limit the recording of the time people are exposed to an infected person to a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • When the Las Vegas Strip is cleared to reopen, MGM Resorts International will open two or three of its casinos, including the flagship Bellagio, as part of a gradual relaunch. Casinos will open with safety measures including social distancing, which the public can expect to see in a full plan in about two weeks.
  • U.S. auto sales fell an estimated more than 50 percent last month over the prior year. Additionally, the selling pace was its lowest on record since at least 1979. Specifically, Hyundai reported a 39 percent drop in its U.S. sales last month, while sales for Mazda declined 44 percent and Toyota said its U.S. sales dropped 54 percent.
  • 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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