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COVID-19 Update
December 22, 2020
IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.

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

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

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

Iowa Update

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 269,020 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,294 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,322,128 tested. Zero additional deaths were reported since our last update, keeping the total at 3,589 deaths. Now 219,072 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 12.6% the past 7-day average is 9.5%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 644 hospitalized patients.
 
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
 
Currently 32 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
 
Governor Kim Reynolds will hold a press conference from Iowa PBS at 11 am today. The event will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page.   
 
Federal Legislation
Supplemental IV
Timeline: We have reached the finish line. On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell announced a deal had been struck on a COVID-package. Last night, the House passed the bill 359-53. Moments ago, the Senate passed the bill 91-7. The President is expected to sign the bill. Congress passed a 7-day stopgap yesterday to allow for the bill to be enrolled, as it is expected to take multiple days to enroll given its size (it’s reportedly the longest bill in American history).
 
Process/Politics: Over the last couple days we’ve seen some fireworks that threated to blow up (or further delay) the package. Last Friday, Sen. Hawley said he would block any CR if direct assistance was not in the COVID relief bill. After leadership assured him it was in the bill, he backed down. The Senate was then able to pass the 2-day stopgap and avert a government shutdown.
 
As four corners continued to say they were close and moving closer, Sen. Toomey raised concerns over the Federal Reserve’s ability to loan money to states and municipalities, asserting that they could be used to circumvent Congress on fiscal policy. Late Saturday night, Leader Schumer reached a compromise with Sen. Toomey, where four lending facilities created by the CARES Act would be closed and identical programs could not be stood up without congressional action.
 
Committees had a Saturday evening deadline to put pens down and send latest language for final negotiations. Once a deal was reached on Sunday afternoon, there remained the task of compiling the text. There was some hope that they would be able to pass the bill yesterday but delays on text pushed votes to today. The House instead passed a one-day CR and 7-day stop gap to prevent a government shutdown, with the promise of votes on the end of year package today. The Senate passed the CR yesterday by hotline and passed the 7-day stop gap by voice vote before voting on the end of year package. Earlier this evening, the House passed the bill 359-53. A large majority of the no votes came from House Republicans. The Senate passed the bill 91-7.
 
Policy: After facing delays from printing and uploading issues, the text of the end of the year package was released yesterdat afternoon. The entire bill includes the 12 fiscal year 21 appropriations bills, the COVID relief package, a tax package, an energy package, the Water Resources Development Act, and other miscellaneous bills. Division M and N of the 5,593-page bill include the COVID package, with Division M dedicated to the package’s appropriations and Division N dedicated to the authorizations. House Appropriations Majority Division-by-Division/Section-by-Section summary of COVID package provisions here. Text here. Highlights and Committee summaries below.
 
Committee summaries below:
  • Ways and Means majority Economic Impact Payments FAQ here, summary of health-related provisions in the entire bill here, Unemployment Insurance Section by Section here
  • Ways and Means minority summary of end of year legislation here
  • Energy and Commerce minority summary here
  • Small Business Committee (same for House and Senate) section by section here
  • Senate Small Business majority summary here
  • House Small Business majority summary here
  • Financial Services majority Eviction Moratorium one pager/FAQ here, CDFI/MDI provisions one pager here
  • Education and Labor majority fact sheet here
  • House Agriculture majority section by section here

Division N – Coronavirus Package

Healthcare (Title I) – Senate GOP Policy Committee summary here, Energy and Commerce minority summary here
  • 3.75 percent increase for Medicare Physician Fee Schedule providers through 2021 (Section 101).
  • Extends temporary Medicare sequestration through March 31, 2021 (Section 102).
  • The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing section.
    • $8.75 billion for CDC to distribute to state, local, tribal, and territorial public health agencies for vaccine distribution, $4.5 billion to go directly to public health departments.
    • $20 billion for BARDA for vaccine and therapeutics procurement.
    • $3 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
    • $22 billion in grants to states for testing/tracing/COVID mitigation, $2.5 billion reserved for improve testing/contact tracing in high-risk and underserved populations.
    • $3 billion for grants to providers for health care related expenses and lost revenue through the Provider Relief Fund.
    • $4.25 billion for mental health and substance abuse support.
    • $10 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants for child care providers.
    • $1 billion for Indian Health Service ($210 million from CDC for vaccine distribution and $790 million for testing/tracing).

Assistance to Individuals, Families, and Business (Title II) – Ways and Means majority UI section by section here, Ways and Means majority Economic Impact Payments FAQ here, Senate GOP UI summary here, Senate GOP UI section by section here, Senate GOP Tax section by section here
  • $300/week for unemployment insurance through March 14, 2021 (Sec. 203).
  • Extends both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program (Sec. 201) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program (Section 206):
    • Increases the maximum number of weeks individuals may receive benefits (for PUA increase is 39 to 50, for PEUC increase is 13 to 24),
    • Creates a phase out of benefits (allows individuals who have not reached the maximum number of weeks of benefits to continue receiving benefits through April 5, 2021),
    • Adds documentation requirements for new applicants to PUA, requires states to verify applicants’ identities (Sec. 241, 242).
  • $166 for direct stimulus payments, $600 for individuals or $1,200 for those filing jointly, with an income phase out at $75,000 for single-filers and $150,000 for those filing jointly (same phase out as CARES). Additional $600 per each child (does not include adult dependents), (Sec. 272).
    • Retroactively expands eligibility for direct stimulus payments to mixed-status households.
  • Extends the period by which employers can defer payroll taxes to April 30, 2021 and paid back by January 1, 2022 (Sec. 274).
  • Allows PPE and other COVID-19 related supplies to be eligible for the educator expense deduction, retroactive to March 12, 2020 (Sec. 275).
  • Allows expenses paid for with loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to be tax deductible and excludes PPP loans that are forgiven from gross income (Sec. 276).
  • Extends refundable payroll credits for paid sick and family leave that were included in FFCRA through March 31, 2021, allows self-employed individuals to use 2019 income rather than 2020 income to compute the credit (Section 286, 287)

Small Business (Title III) – Small Business Committee (same for House and Senate) section by section here, Senate Small Business Committee majority summary here, House Small Business majority summary here
  • $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, including:
    • Creates program for businesses to receive a second PPP loan, called “PPP second draw”, and eligible businesses must:
      • Have 300 or fewer employees,
      • Have or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan,
      • Show at least 25% reduction in income over a quarter in 2020 compared with same quarter in 2019.
      • Maximum loans are $2 million.
    • Set-asides (which the Secretary can alter after 25 days) for:
      • $35 billion for first time borrowers, $15 billion of which reserved for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.
      • $25 billion for second draw PPP loans for businesses with 10 or fewer employees and loans under $250,000 in low-income areas.
      • $15 billion for CDFIs and MDIs.
      • $15 billion for PPP loans issued by certain small depository institutions.
    • Expanded eligibility for news organizations, certain 501(c)(6)s, and Designated Marketing Organizations.
    • Expands eligible expenses to include software, cloud computing, other HR/accounting needs, property damage not covered by insurance, supplier costs from prior to taking out the loan, PPE and investments the help the loan recipient comply with relevant COVID-19 government guidelines. Expansions are retroactive, except for those who have already had their loans forgiven.
    • Prohibits use of loan for lobbying activities.
    • Creates simplified application process for loans under $150,000.
    • Prohibits entities that receive a grant under the venue grant program from receiving a PPP loan. Prohibits publicly traded companies from eligibility for PPP loans (Section 342).
  • $15 billion for a new grant program for Shuttered Venue Operators (live events venues, theaters, museums etc.) that demonstrate at least 25% reduction in revenue.
    • $2 billion set aside for businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees.
    • First two weeks of the program will only award grants to entities that have seen 90% or greater revenue loss, second two weeks will award grants to entities that have seen 70% or greater revenue loss. After those two periods, grants available to all other entities.
  • $20 billion for new EIDL grants in low-income communities (Sec. 331).

Transportation (Title IV) – Energy and Commerce minority summary here, Senate GOP Commerce Committee provisions summary here
  • $15 billion for airline payroll support, $1 billion for airline contractors’ payrolls (Sec. 402)
    • To receive funding, requires air carriers/contractors recall furloughed employees, provide backpay, refrain from layoffs or furloughs/reducing pay and benefits until March 31, 2021, and not purchase stock buybacks or pay dividends until March 31, 2021 (Sec. 404).
    • Places limits on executive compensation until October 1, 2022 (Sec. 406).
  • $2 billion for motorcoach, school bus, and ferry industries.
  • The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing package.
    • $14 billion for transit,
    • $10 billion for state departments of transportation,
    • $2 for airports and airport concessionaires,
    • $1 billion for Amtrak.

Banking (Title V) – Financial Services Majority Eviction Moratorium one pager/FAQ here, Financial Services Majority CDFI/MDI provisions one pager here
  • $26.2 billion for rental assistance to be administered by states (DC treated as a state), territories, and tribes (Section 501).
    • Eligible households must have a household income at or lower than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), are at risk of housing instability or homelessness, and qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship related to the pandemic.
    • Priority is given to lower income households and those that have been unemployed longer than 90 days.
  • Extends CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.
  • $12 billion for CDFIs and MDIs:
    • $9 billion dedicated for the Emergency Capital Investment Program for low-cost, long-term capital to depository MDIs and CDFIS (Sec. 522), and
    • $3 billion for the CDFI fund ($1.25 billion for current fiscal year, of the remaining $1.75 billion, $1.2 billion is reserved for “minority lending institutions”) (Sec. 523).
 
(Education) and Labor (Title VI) – Education and Labor majority fact sheet here
  • Waives certain statutory requirements for Jobs Corps students (Sec. 601).
  • The below are referenced in Division N (Coronavirus Appropriations) and not the authorizing package.
    • $82 billion for Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts, higher ed.
    • $4.1 billion for Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund, with a $2.75 billion set aside for private schools.
    • $54.3 billion for K-12, includes new allowable uses for funds.
    • $22.7 billion for higher education, including
      • $20.2 billion for public and private non-profit higher education institutions,
      • $908 million for for-profit colleges for the explicit purpose of financial aid to students.
      • $1.7 billion set aside for HBCUs, tribal colleges, MSIs,
      • $113 million for institutions with unmet needs or exceptions to formula.
    • $819 million for Bureau of Indian Education.
 
Nutrition and Agriculture (Title VII) – House Agriculture Committee majority section by section here
  • Increases SNAP benefit 15% through June 30, 2021. Excludes Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from being counted as income for SNAP.
  • $614 million for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico and America Samoa.
  • $400 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) through September 30, 2021.
  • $175 million for Older Americans Act nutrition programs, including $7 million for tribal programs.
  • $400 million to pay for milk to be processed into dairy products and donated to non-profit entities (Sec. 762).
 
Postal Service (Title VIII)
  • Allows USPS to borrow up to $10 billion from Treasury.
  • Allows money provided to USPS under the CARES Act to not have to be repaid.
 
Broadband (Title IX) – Energy and Commerce minority summary here, Senate GOP Commerce Committee provisions summary here
  • Expands eligibility for rip and replace program (Sec. 901).
  • Establishes Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at NTIA, appropriates $285 million for a pilot program focused on awarding grants to education institutions and other organizations that serve minority communities (Sec. 902).
  • $250 million for the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program (Sec. 903).
  • $3.2 billion to establish an emergency broadband benefit program at the FCC where eligible households receive a discount on internet service and subsidies for internet-connected devices (Sec. 904). Eligible households include those with:
    • Children who qualify for free/reduced lunch,
    • Pell Grant recipients,
    • Recently laid off/furloughed workers,
    • Individuals who qualify for Lifeline,
    • Individuals who qualify for low-income/COVID discount programs offered by ISPs.
  • $1 billion for NTIA grant program for broadband on tribal land (Sec. 905).
  • $300 million for NTIA grant program aimed at rural areas lacking broadband infrastructure. Program would prioritize projects that would reach the most unserved consumers (Sec. 905).
  • $65 million for FCC broadband mapping, $1.9 billion for rip and replace.
 
Misc (Title X)
  • Extends deadline by which governments must spend the distributed money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to December 31, 2021. Does not add flexibility or additional funding (Sec. 1001).
  • Recissions of the unobligated amounts at Treasury and Federal Reserve appropriated under the CARES Act. Prohibits Exchange Stabilization Funds from being used to create identical current Fed facilities that received CARES Act support (Sec. 1003).
 
See below for tax provisions that were included in earlier drafts of COVID legislation that were included in the final bill, though not in the COVID package. Ways and Means summary here.
  • New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC),
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC),
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) – individuals claiming the 2020 credits are allowed to measure their income on their 2019 return rather than their 2020 return if it would lead to a better credit result. 
  • Permanent expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) including a 4% floor.
  • Expansion of the CARES Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) (Wyden summary here).
  • One-year extension of the CARES non-itemizer charitable contribution deduction policy, at the CARES $300 limit for single-filers.
  • Two-year version of Sen. Scott meals deduction proposal allowing 100-percent deduction for business meal expenses.
 
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)
Tested Positive (7):  Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Ken Calvert R-CA), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA),
Recovered from COVID-19 (48): Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico at large), Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Rep. Brian Steil (R-WI), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-TX), Rep. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)
Currently Self-Quarantined (1): Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
Completed Quarantine (49): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), 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), 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. 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), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI
 
Other Federal Actions
  • Congressional leaders on Sunday reached a hard-fought agreement on a $900 billion stimulus package that would fund the distribution of vaccines and send immediate aid to Americans and businesses to help them cope with the economic devastation of the pandemic.
  • NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and HHS Sec. Alex Azar will be vaccinated on Tuesday morning during an event at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. 
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an expert panel which advises the CDC, said in a meeting yesterday that adults over 75 and frontline essential workers should be in second Covid-19 vaccine priority group.
    • The committee also voted to recommend that the third stage of the national vaccination program focus on adults 65 to 74, people 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in the second phase.
    • Find slides from the meeting here.
  • Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday. 
  • Virginia and Maryland are each sending 8,000 extra COVID-19 vaccine doses from their own supply to D.C. as the city scrambles to inoculate health care workers amid the worsening pandemic. Under the current distribution formula, which is based on residency, D.C. received 6,825 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — a figure Mayor Muriel Bowser said would cover less than a tenth of the city's health care workers who are first in line to receive the vaccine.
  • The NIH announced last Thursday that it has begun two Phase 3 clinical trials evaluating investigational monoclonal antibody therapeutics for people hospitalized with COVID-19.
    • The trials are part of the ACTIV-3 master protocol, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (NIAID)
  • On Friday, the FDA approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for EUA. The vaccine requires two doses like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but it does not require ultracold storage.
    • Roughly 6 million doses of the vaccine will be shipped to more than 3,700 locations around the country this week, adding to the nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that were dispatched mostly to health care workers starting last week.
    • Health care workers at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center were among the first people to receive Moderna's vaccine on Monday. 
  • OWS estimates there will be enough vaccine doses available to vaccinate 20 million people in December, 30 million in January, and 50 million by the end of February.
  • President-elect Joe Biden received the coronavirus vaccine on live television on Monday at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., sending a message to Americans across the country that the vaccine is safe to take. Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all received the first dose of the vaccine on Friday. 
  • The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 17,790,376 total cases and 316,844 deaths. One American is dying from COVID-19 every 33 seconds.The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • The U.S. is now averaging 2,613 new coronavirus deaths per day – more than triple the seven-day average from two months ago. In the week ending Dec. 19, 16 states hit a record number of new deaths. California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas have all recorded more than 1,000 deaths in the past week. 
  • The total number of COVID-19 cases across the U.S. has increased by 13.6 percent in the past week. Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina have all set weekly records for newly diagnosed cases. Tennessee is identifying new COVID-19 cases at the highest per capita rate in the country. 
  • Nearly a third of hospitals across the country have more than 80 percent of their ICU beds filled. There are 115,351 people hospitalized across the country with COVID-19 according to the COVID Tracking Project. 
  • Statewide, California reported 2.1 percent availability of ICU beds on Friday. California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services said many hospitals in the state may also soon run out of room for patients who need to be admitted but do not require intensive care. Just 8 percent of ICU and inpatient beds were available across Arizona on Sunday, and ICUs in Utah have hit 99.4 percent capacity. 
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he has asked the DoD for 10 teams of 20 health care workers to assist the state’s hard-hit health care facilities. 
  • Multiple governors and state officials – including authorities from Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington – said they will be allocated 20 to 40 percent fewer vaccine doses than expected in their second shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the federal government.  
  • Vaccinations in New Jersey nursing homes will begin a week late, Dec. 28, instead of today, after state officials missed the deadline for federal approval by one day. 
  • West Virginia is leading the nation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration, having doled out nearly 91 percent of its available doses. Gov. Jim Justice (R) said his state is ready to roll out the Moderna vaccine. 
  • The head of Oklahoma’s largest teachers union praised Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Monday for moving school personnel to phase two of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. 
  • Dozens of protesters trying to force their way into Oregon’s State Capitol building on Monday were met by officers in riot gear, as lawmakers gathered for a one-day special session amid growing tension over coronavirus restrictions in the state. 
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) extended a state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional 60 days. 
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an EO to limit public gatherings to no more than 10 people. The governor urged Tennesseans to limit holiday gatherings to only those living in their household. 
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced the end of several restrictions implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In-person classes can resume at high schools and colleges, indoor venues such as movie theaters can reopen with capacity limits and other safety precautions, and outdoor group fitness activities can also resume. The new guidelines will remain in place until Jan. 15. 
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced an update in the metrics used to inform local school district decisions for in-person learning. 
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced the launch of WI Exposure Notification, a new mobile app to assist in notifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. The app will go live for Wisconsinites next week. 
  • Pennsylvania’s health department unveiled a new digital case investigation tool, the Connect & Protect Form, to allow for more efficient COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. The state already has a contact tracing app available. 
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed an EO that suspends and modifies tax deadlines and collection efforts for tax bills that become due and payable on Jan. 1; suspends municipal assessor certification program requirement; and allows caterer liquor permittees to sell and provide closed or sealed containers of alcoholic beverages. 
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said Monday that he's "basically begging" Massachusetts residents not to travel for Christmas. 
  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed an emergency proclamation reducing the state's mandatory self-quarantine period for travelers entering the state and traveling between counties from 14 to 10 days. 
  • Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (D) tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • South Carolina first lady Peggy McMaster and Tennessee first lady Maria Lee have both tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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. NPR's map can also be used to monitor you state's heat wave. 
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
    • This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
International Affairs
  • The E.U. granted authorization on Monday for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, paving the way for millions of doses to be transferred by Pfizer to the bloc’s 27 member states. Immunization is expected to begin in most countries over the next few days and gather speed in early January. 
  • The E.U.’s drug authority, the European Medicines Agency, is expected to give its decision on the Moderna vaccine authorization request on Jan. 6. 
  • The creators of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine Monday signed a memorandum of intent with British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to work together on developing a vaccine, a major boost to Russia’s efforts to advance its vaccines to the global market. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that by working together with AstraZeneca, Russia was following WHO advice to pool COVID-19 vaccine efforts. 
  • More than 40 countries across the globe have shut down travel from England in response to reports of a more contagious strain of COVID-19 in England, though scientists have yet to determine whether the new strain is indeed more contagious. 
  • France imposed a 48-hour suspension of freight transit across the English Channel, leaving thousands of truck drivers stranded in their vehicles on Monday as the roads leading to England’s ports were turned into parking lots. 
  • Saudi Arabia announced a one-week ban on international travel. 
  • Air passengers from the U.K. arriving in Germany were detained at airports on Sunday night. 
  • Spain announced that only Spaniards and residents of Spain will be allowed to fly to Spain from Britain, and implemented tighter border checks with Gibraltar, the British territory located at the southern tip of Spain. 
  • Hong Kong on Monday closed its borders to travelers from Britain. 
  • Israel is halting air travel to most foreign nationals beginning on Wednesday. 
  • Peru suspended flights from Europe for two weeks and has put its health and travel authorities on high alert. 
  • Eight countries, including The Netherlands, Germany, and Turkey, have barred travelers from South Africa, where cases of the new strain have also been reported. 
  • Qatar received its first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, just hours after regulators approved it for use in the Gulf state. Qatari officials say the country will inoculate all residents free of charge. 
  • Nigeria is advising its sub-regions to limit public gatherings and close bars and night clubs over the next five weeks amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Lagos, the country’s largest city, has ordered schools to shut indefinitely, banned concerts, carnivals, and street parties, and asked certain civil servants to work from home. 
  • Morocco will impose a three-week curfew from 9 PM to 6 AM starting on Wednesday, to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Shops, malls, and restaurants will have to close at 8 PM across the country. 
  • Seoul, South Korea has banned gatherings of more than five people, though weddings and funerals are capped at 50 people. The restrictions, which will go into effect on Wednesday, will remain in place through Jan. 3. As of Sunday, there were just four intensive care unit beds remaining in the greater Seoul area. The government has ordered private hospitals to free up more than 300 beds to be used for coronavirus patients. 
  • Authorities in Sydney, Australia have put about a quarter of a million people in the city’s northern beach suburbs into a strict lockdown and restricted gatherings across the rest of the city in a bid to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Ontario, Canada will enter sweeping COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday that will last until at least Jan. 23. Most stores, aside from pharmacies and groceries, will be closed except for delivery and curbside pickup. Indoor gatherings will be limited to groups made up of household members with the exception of weddings and religious services involving no more than 10 people. The majority of students will shift to online learning after their holiday break, and residents are being urged to avoid all but essential travel. 
  • Citing poor pay, lack of medical insurance, and inadequate PPE, doctors across Kenya went on strike on Monday as coronavirus cases continued to rise nationwide. 
  • A 63-year-old coronavirus patient has been arrested in Hong Kong after he escaped from a hospital isolation ward. Hong Kong has strict quarantine and isolation requirements for people who contract the virus and their close contacts. 
  • Thailand has eased travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries in a bid to boost the country’s pandemic-hit tourism industry. Visitors will be required to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine. 
  • Thai authorities this week plan to test more than 10,000 people connected to a major seafood market after a spike in COVID-19 cases. The cluster around the shrimp market, a hub for migrant workers, marks Thailand’s worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
  • Global Cases: 77,482,272      Total Deaths: 1,705,300
Science, Lifestyle, and Economy
  • A mutant strain of the coronavirus, called B.1.1.7, prompted strict lockdown measures in England and halted travel between the U.K. and more than 40 countries following reports that the mutant virus is spreading between people more quickly. Scientists are not yet sure of the strain’s importance or whether it is more contagious. It has also been detected in South Africa and Australia.
    • WHO officials said Monday that there is no evidence at this point to suggest that the new coronavirus variant discovered in the U.K. "is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.” 
  • The CDC said it is monitoring reports of severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • The NIH said Monday it is planning a study to find out what’s behind the handful of severe allergic reactions that have been reported. Medical experts say that Pfizer’s vaccine is still safe for the general public, noting that allergic reactions are extremely rare and expected on a small scale with any type of vaccine.
  • More than 3 million elderly and infirm residents of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities may face delays in getting coronavirus vaccines as the facilities confront the difficult task of obtaining consent, consumer advocates say.
  • More than a million travelers a day passed through American airport security checkpoints on each of the last three days, a spike in holiday travel that comes despite warnings from the CDC against travel. 
  • Delta Air Lines said on Monday that it will require pre-departure COVID-19 tests from passengers leaving the U.K. who are flying to New York. 
  • Virgin Atlantic will also require all travelers from London to the United States to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before departure under a new pre-departure screening beginning Dec. 24. 
  • Health officials are administering the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine in Indigenous communities across the U.S., one of the populations most vulnerable in the pandemic. About 68,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will initially be distributed among the population, the Indian Health Service said. 
  • Stanford Medicine apologized on Friday for its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan – a plan that came under fire for leaving out nearly all of its medical residents and fellows, many of whom regularly treat COVID-19 patients. 
  • During a "Sesame Street" town hall with CNN on Saturday, NIH director Dr. Anthony Fauci assured kids Santa Claus would be able to visit them on Christmas, because he traveled to the North Pole to vaccinate Santa personally. 
  • After moving their entire football operation to Arizona for what they initially hoped would be just a three-week stay, the San Francisco 49ers will finish the 2020 regular season in the desert. A team spokesman said the decision was made to remain in the Phoenix area through the end of the NFL season after Santa Clara County announced it would be extending its COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on contact sports, through at least Jan. 8.
  • There were nearly 12,000 more deaths than expected among young adults between March and July, according to new research published last week in JAMA.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. BIO’s pipeline tracker is here. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. 
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
Helpful Articles/Media
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 Biotechnology Association, All rights reserved.


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