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COVID-19 Update
April 27, 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.
 
Over the weekend, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was notified, positive cases climbed to a total of 5,476 positive cases and a total of 30,614 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. The number of positive cases will continue to grow as Test Iowa sites open and additional surveillance testing of large businesses and nursing home staff continues.  
 
According to IDPH, an additional 5 deaths were reported Saturday and an additional 6 deaths were reported Sunday. 286 are currently hospitalized, and 1,900 Iowans have recovered. According to the Governor’s press release, at this time, 1 in 87 Iowans have already 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 new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county.
 
The first Test Iowa drive-through COVID-19 testing site opened this weekend in Des Moines. All 250 appointments were full, but the Governor expects to ramp up to make 3,000 tests per day available and to open additional testing sites in the state. All Iowans are encouraged to take the online assessment at www.testiowa.com, which helps the state gather data about the virus, and lets individuals know whether they qualify for testing.
 
On Friday the Governor issued a proclamation that allows elective and nonessential surgeries if health care providers meet certain conditions. The proclamation also allows farmers markets to be held, if they take certain measures that encourage social distancing. See the full proclamation here. She said she would announce plans to start to reopen some other businesses today.
 
Featured resources
  • Here’s a helpful study out of Iowa State University on the impact of COVID-19 on Iowa agriculture.
  • BIO has a coronavirus hub, to bring together resources and needs among companies combating COVID-19.
  • Johnson & Johnson and journalist Lisa Ling have teamed up for a live, eight-episode web series, The Road to a Vaccine, examining the latest efforts to respond to the pandemic and break down the complex process of developing a vaccine.  Catch the series every Tuesday at 12 PM ET, live online via JNJ.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. After the episodes air, they will also be available for viewing anytime at JNJ.com/roadtoavaccine and archived on all platforms.
  • 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.
Federal Legislation

Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0. / Phase 4

Timeline: As COVID 3.5 was signed into law, Congress will likely take a (brief) breather. This week 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. Speaker Pelosi may unveil the next coronavirus supplemental as early as mid/late next week. Further conversations between House Dems may push introductions back.

Process/Politics: All indicators point to Speaker Pelosi taking the lead on this supplemental and introducing a bill to begin negotiations from. However, getting Republicans to the table quickly likely will prove more difficult on this bill than past ones. Republicans have said they want to slow down and see how the spending so far has been used before moving forward. There is a sense that Republicans are beginning to have spending fatigue”, and Leader McConnell has signaled his opposition to providing additional funding to states. However, some Republicans have disagreed with that position, and earlier this week, the President called for another bill that would include aid to state and local governments, infrastructure investment, a payroll tax cut, and tax breaks for restaurants, sports, and entertainment interests.

Policy: This will likely be a large bill, at least $1 trillion. The bill Speaker Pelosi introduces will likely heavily mirror many of the priorities reflected in the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act”, which Speaker Pelosi and House Dems introduced prior to Senate passage of CARES.  Text here, summary here, and one pager here.  The bill will also likely include significant funding for state/local/tribal governments and additional priorities may include funding for Medicaid and FMAP, election security/vote by mail, protecting frontline and emergency services workers, and funding for the Postal Service.

Highlights from the Democratic “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act”, some of which were implemented in CARES include:
  • $150 billion for hospitals, CHCs, government medical systems, including $80 billion in low-interest loans to hospitals;
  • $1,500 to individuals in direct cash payment, up to $7,500 for family of five;
  • Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit;
  • Expands paid sick days and family medical leave (extends to 12/31/2021, paid sick leave required regardless of size of the company);
  • Health extenders extended to end of the fiscal year;
  • $500+ billion grants and interest-free loans (some forgivable) for small businesses, additional $184 billion for low-interest disaster loans;
  • $200 billion state stabilization fund, $15 billion in Community Development Block Grant for local governments;
  • $60 billion for schools/universities ($50 billion for states’ school funding and $10 billion for higher education);
  • $10 billion in grants to airports, $40 billion in grants to airlines and ground support contractors ($21 billion in loans), $100 million in grants to maintain service to small communities.
  • Housing support, including $100 billion for emergency rental assistance to low-income renters at risk of homelessness, $32 billion for state housing agencies, and $1.1 billion for HUD multi-family housing programs;
  • $25 billion for public transportation to ensure continued operations;
  • Over $250 million for investments in telemedicine (ReConnect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine), $2 billion for broadband hotspots/devices to for distance learning, and $1 billion for the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans.
As mentioned above, the President has called for aid to state and local governments, infrastructure investment, a payroll tax cut, and tax breaks for restaurants, sports, and entertainment interests. Some Republican members have said they want 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 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)

The House passed the bill by a vote of 388-5, with Reps. Biggs (R-AZ), Buck (R-CO), Hice (R-GA), Massie (R-KY), and Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) voting against the bill and Rep. Amash (I-MI) voting present. The President signed the bill into law this morning. 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.

Highlights include:
  • $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 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:
  • 4/23 – Treasury issued an updated PPP FAQ here
  • 4/23 – The Treasury Department has asked all publicly traded companies that received funds under the Paycheck Protection Program to return the funds within two weeks.
  • 4/24 – FEMA announced the application deadlines for fire service organizations to apply for the $100 million provided in the CARES Act for grants to local fire departments for PPP and other supplies. Fact sheet here. Advisory here.
  • 4/24 – HHS announced that the deadline for hospitals to submit data that will affect how HHS distributes funding for high impact areas is now 3:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 25.
Small Business Loans
  • 4/3 – The Treasury Department released affiliation guidelines for the small business loan program.
    • On April 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. See here for a report from SBA on approvals through 4/13. .
  • 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)
    • 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.
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
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 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 next 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.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here.
  • Factsheet on accelerated and advance payments for providers/suppliers here
  • 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.
  • 4/10 – HHS issued guidance, announcing the formula and mechanism in which hospitals will receive the first $30 billion in relief funding. 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
  • 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.
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 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. While consultation has been completed, more than a dozen tribes have sued the Treasury Department over its guidance identifying Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as eligible entities for the fund. On 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.
  • 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: Congress 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. 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: 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 first markups were slated to begin April 22. The House may try to hold markups soon after the next package is passed, when all members have returned D.C. for a more extended period. 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 Republicans, Speaker Pelosi pulled a proxy voting proposal, and instead tasked 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 (any 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
  • Here is last 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.
  • Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) wrote a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield expressing concern that federal public health officials are “behind the curve in assessing public health threat levels, because they lack immediate visibility into population health data.” In the letter, they press the CDC to implement a real-time national system for tracking COVID-19.
  • The FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication regarding known side effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, including serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems, that have been reported with their use for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, for which they are not approved by the FDA.
  • The USDA announced Vermont has been approved to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This will allow Vermont to join 16 other approved 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.
  • Fire service organizations nationwide fighting against COVID-19 will soon be able to apply for a share of $100 million in funding for PPE and medical supplies through the FEMA Assistance for Firefighters Grant Program. FEMA will begin accepting applications for FY20 on 4/28 with a deadline of 5/15.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 865,585 and 48,816 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • COVID-19 became Los Angeles County’s leading cause of death after California’s worst day of the pandemic yet. L.A. has seen nearly 800 deaths from COVID-19 since the onset of the outbreak.
  • The National Governors Association and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) published a “Roadmap to Recovery,” which outlines public health infrastructure needs that should be addressed before a state’s gradual reopening.
  • Hawaii has started offering tourists a free ticket home. With a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has begun helping to return travelers who don’t have the means to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which involves paying for lodging, and food delivery. Since starting the program three weeks ago, the organization has sent 20 visitors back to their airports of origin, including travelers from Guam, Los Angeles, Denver, and Birmingham.
  • In Georgia, lines started forming around 7:00 am after Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an order generally allowing barbershops, nail salons, gyms, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors to reopen today. Dine-in service at restaurants will be allowed to resume on Monday. At a shopping center in Atlanta, every parking spot was full, and few employees were wearing masks.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) reported preliminary results from a serological study conducted across New York state; the preliminary results found that nearly 14 percent of New York residents may have been previously infected with COVID-19.
  • Gov. Cuomo also announced that he would direct the New York State Board of Election to send every voter a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot for the upcoming June 23rd primary.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that schools will remain closed through the end of the school year.
  • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) extended the Emergency Declaration through June 15th (not an extension of the stay-at-home order).
  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) also extended an Emergency Declaration for an additional three weeks but did not extend a stay-at-home order.
  • Updates on Lockdowns/Reopening:
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced a three-stage plan to reopen the state's economy.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15th, but said that some businesses will be able to reopen (like golf courses).
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced he was replacing the shelter in place order with a new “Safer At Home” order. The order will relax some of the restrictions in previous executive orders by allowing some retail businesses to re-open under strict mandates. Museums, theaters, casinos, bars, salons, tattoo parlors, and gyms will remain closed.
  • 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
  • The Italian Association of Doctors said that at least 150 doctors have died of COVID-19 and health care professionals account for about 10 percent of the country’s infections.
  • Leaders of the EU have yet to come to an agreement on an economic recovery program for member states. Member countries met virtually yesterday to review a number of proposals, and made significant progress toward an agreement.
  • Today the WHO announced the initiation of the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator to promote the rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics, as well as equitable access to those treatments. The U.S. will not be a formal member of the partnership, but will support international efforts to develop and produce a vaccine.
  • WHO has published an interim guidance “COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for competent authorities responsible for national food safety control systems.” The guidance document provides advice and recommendations for national food safety authorities to optimize food control functions and prioritize critical services that preserve the integrity of food safety systems.
  • Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a detailed plan to gradually lift the country's coronavirus restrictions. Under the new rules, all shops will be allowed to open their doors starting May 11th. Schools will reopen the following week with a cap on the number of students allowed in each class.
  • The Czech Republic's ban on free movement has been lifted. Czechs will be able to gather outside in groups of up to 10 as the COVID-19 situation has improved. They can leave home whenever they want, but social distancing rules and face masks remain compulsory. The country's lockdown began on March 16th.
  • Air France-KLM Group and Air France have secured $7.5 billion in financing to help it remain solvent during the pandemic. The financing comes in two parts: a French state-backed loan of roughly $4.3 billion (4 billion euros) granted by a syndicate of six banks (guaranteed by the French state up to 90 percent) and a direct shareholder's loan of roughly $3.2 billion (3 billion euros) from the French state to the airline group.
  • The U.K. will host a "Global Vaccines Summit" on June 4th in an effort to encourage the international community to “come together” to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Global Cases:  2,626,321               Total Deaths:  181,938
Lifestyle and Economy
  • U.S. grocers are struggling to secure meat, looking for new suppliers and selling different cuts, as COVID-19 cuts into domestic production. Outbreaks among employees have closed about a dozen U.S. meatpacking facilities this month and slowed production at many others.
  • The IRS is ready to release the second big wave of stimulus payments and will send money over the next few days to people who recently provided their direct-deposit information. These payments will likely go to two groups: One set is tax filers who successfully used the IRS website’s “Get My Payment” tool to add bank information by midday on April 22nd, according to the IRS. The other set is people who don’t file tax returns but who receive Social Security or Social Security disability benefits, according to the Treasury Department.
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is using a robot dog to help clinicians screen patients. The robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, allows physicians to communicate with and deliver supplies to patients without potential exposure to COVID-19; the robot also limits the use of PPE.
  • According to doctors, older adults with COVID-19 have several “atypical” symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment. COVID-19 is typically signaled by three symptoms: a fever, a bad cough, and shortness of breath. But older adults — the age group most at risk of severe complications or death from the illness ― may show none of these characteristics. Instead, seniors may seem “off” — not acting like themselves ― early on after being infected. They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings. They may become dizzy and fall. Sometimes, seniors stop speaking or simply collapse.
  • Polls continue to show that Americans support COVID-19 lockdown restrictions (around 80 percent support, and 20 percent think it is doing more harm than good).
  • The Federal Reserve wants to make it easier for consumers to access cash in savings accounts and money-market funds during the pandemic, so it is eliminating a rule that generally limits individuals from making more than six withdrawals from such accounts each month without paying a fee. The move enables banks to allow for unlimited withdrawals and transfers each month, though lenders aren’t required to eliminate the existing limits and can retain their existing fees on transactions of more than six a month.
  • Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor released new information indicating that more than 4.4 million individuals filed initial claims for unemployment. While this number is a decrease from the previous week, it brings the national total to approximately 26 million new claims.
  • Facebook is rolling out a new video-chat feature to rival Zoom, part of a suite of new offerings aimed at users kept home by the coronavirus. Facebook said today that it is launching Messenger Rooms, an invitation-based group video chat that can accommodate up to 50 people, along with additional video options for gamers and singles looking to chat with matches on Facebook Dating. They will also be expanding the Messenger Kids app, which includes parental restrictions, to new countries.
  • Unilever says people are using personal-care products such as shampoo and deodorant less than usual, estimating 11 fewer uses in a typical week. Also, people are cooking more at home, which has increased demand for things like soup cubes, mayonnaise, and instant noodles.
  • 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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