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COVID-19 Update
April 15, 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

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 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.
The Governor unveiled a new dashboard where they are making more information available at It features statewide totals and statistics, and detailed county by county information, and demographic and epidemiological information not previously available.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 189 additional positive cases for a total of 1,899 positive cases. There have been additional 481 negative tests for a total of 17,467 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 6 deaths were also reported, 163 hospitalized, and 790 Iowans have recovered. 
The new numbers included surveillance tests conducted of Tyson Plant employees because of an outbreak in Louisa County. IDPH sent 200 testing swabs to the plant and are being very proactive to protect employees.  86 of 199 surveillance tests were positive. Three additional outbreaks have been reported in long term care facilities.
The Governor spoke about how packing plants are a critical piece of the supply chain and these plants need to be safely up and running. The RMCC, one of six such designated regions, will help meet needs and coordination in the area of the plant. IDPH is reaching out and making sure they can help these businesses and slow the spread, and stay up and running or reopen.
There have been challenges around testing, the Governor said. Iowa has seen expansions of testing capacity. In outbreak settings they are looking to use testing as a method of control.

Governor Reynolds said she’s hoping to start reopening the economy in May, but are working on metrics to determine how best to do that. Her office is communicating with other states including Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, and Wyoming. She said she is looking at it from a regional perspective, but each Governor must look at their individual metrics, to make a determination based on metrics in their states, how and when to dial back mitigation measures.
IowaBio Member Highlights
  • GSK announced yesterday, they are joining up with Sanofi in an unprecedented collaboration—it brings together two of the world’s biggest vaccine companies, with proven pandemic technologies and significant scale, all with the aim of developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine. Definitive terms of the collaboration are expected to be finalized over the next few weeks.  Both companies bring significant manufacturing capacity and while, they have a lot of work to do, given this is at an early-stage of development, they believe that, if successful, they will be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year.

    The companies plan to start Phase I clinical trials in the next few months and, if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required to make the vaccine available by the second half of 2021. Both GSK and Sanofi are committed to making any vaccine developed through the collaboration affordable to the public and through mechanisms that offer fair access for people in all countries. 
  • Boehringer Ingelheim has significantly stepped up its support in the fight against COVID-19. A Global Support Program has been set up to bring more financial relief, protective materials and medicine donations to healthcare institutions and communities in need around the world. Boehringer Ingelheim initially started with donations totaling over $1.5 million (€1 million) in January for affected regions in China. With the coronavirus spreading to become a global pandemic, efforts to provide relief and scientific support grew strongly these past few weeks. This ultimately resulted in a Global Support Program with four focus areas, which you can learn more about at this link:
    • Donations
      Boehringer Ingelheim has made available $6.4 million (€5.8 million) for financial and in-kind donations for local emergency aid across its markets. This includes, for example, protective masks, disinfectants, inhalers and medicines. The company is also working with local organizations that use financial and medicine donations to organize help for patients in their communities. 
    • Research for COVID-19 Therapies
      Since January, a growing team of currently more than 100 highly engaged Boehringer Ingelheim scientists from all areas of research and development (R&D) have contributed to projects aimed at finding potential treatment solutions for COVID-19.  

      An increasing number of collaboration partners and service providers is bolstering the team’s efforts. Most of the projects are part of larger collaborative efforts with academia, biotech and other pharma companies. Among them is a call by the Innovative Medicines Initiative of the EU (IMI), to which Boehringer Ingelheim is planning to commit in excess of 11,000 work hours in R&D. The company also joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim supports scientists worldwide with its open innovation portal, which offers 6 anti-viral compounds out of 43 high quality pharmacological tool compounds at no cost for testing of research hypotheses.

      As this work evolves, the company will commit further experts from multiple disciplines, as well as increased lab capacity.
    • Volunteering
      In many communities, helping hands from volunteers, for example with a medical or nursing background, are urgently needed. Boehringer Ingelheim offers all of its 51,000 employees the opportunity to take up to 10 days of paid leave to join approved external organizations as a volunteer to bring COVID-19 relief. Employees may choose to volunteer with our various community partners or with other nonprofit organizations in their own local communities.
    • Making More Health relief fund
      Over $630,000 (€580,000) in relief funds have been launched to support the global Making More Health (MMH) network of social entrepreneurs in Kenya and India, as well as the communities in which they live and work.

      The fund will help social enterprises and their activities to sustain a longer period of low economic activity and will invest in social entrepreneurial ideas that can help reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
Latest on the Virus
  • There are now 70 candidate vaccines in development globally, up from to 44 on March 20th. Of the 70 COVID-19 vaccines in development, only three are currently in clinical trials, meaning they are being tested on humans. 

    China’s CanSino Biological, in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, is in the lead, with the only candidate vaccine currently in phase two trials. U.S. players Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are the other two developers testing vaccines on humans and both are currently in phase one. The remaining 67 potential vaccines are still only in the pre-clinical trial stage. Read more here.
Federal Actions
  • President Trump announced the formation of 17 “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups” that have been tasked with mapping out the best way to reopen the U.S. economy.
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced today that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment (PPE) to public and private healthcare centers.
  • Sec. DeVos also announced that nearly $3 billion will be allocated to governors to continue education for K-12 students throughout the crisis. The money comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized through the CARES Act, and is an emergency block grant.
    • DeVos will also allocate $6 billion to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to students.
  • Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter yesterday to HHS Sec. Alex Azar calling on the Administration to quickly and efficiently allocate the remainder of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSF) to healthcare providers.
    • In their letter, the senators voiced their concern for a more targeted distribution of funds to COVID-19 “hot spots.” Currently, $30 billion of the total $100 billion allocated will be dedicated to all providers enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B based purely on their claim value.
  • The CDC published two new articles in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 and Transmission of COVID-19 to Health Care Personnel During Exposures to a Hospitalized Patient.
  • The CDC has posted multiple new guidance documents on its COVID-19 dashboard, including useful information about testing in the U.S.
  • The latest CMS news updates can be viewed in the daily roundup.
  • The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis (OPA) has developed a comprehensive, 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.
  • The House and Senate will both remain recessed until May. House and Senate leadership continue to engage in negotiations about additional supplemental funding packages (COVID 3.5, COVID IV, and COVID V), but nothing has been formally agreed upon or introduced.
  • Reps. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) remain the only members of Congress to have tested positive for COVID-19 (or be presumptive positive).
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 579,005  travel-related: 6,814 “close contact”: 14,728 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The CDC is reporting 22,252 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced today that public schools in Mississippi will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. School districts have been asked to submit plans for continued distance learning through the end of this school year.
  • The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National League of Cities (NLC) released findings of a survey that reported nearly nine in 10 cities expect a budget shortfall due to the impact of COVID-19 on their economies. The findings were drawn from responses of more than 2,400 cities and indicated that, without federal support, many will be forced to furlough or lay off city employees and cut back on critical services.
  • The USCM sent a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate urging that the “Interim Supplemental” currently being negotiated provide $53.55 billion in emergency fiscal assistance through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) structure for America’s cities.
  • At least 45 residents of a nursing home in Virginia have died from COVID-19, the highest death toll reported at a long-term care facility in the U.S.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that teams of National Guard personnel were being dispatched to dozens of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities where COVID-19 cases have been found, to test residents and staff for the virus.
  • New York City has revised its death counting methodology to now include people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died because of it. The new standard sharply increased the city’s death toll by more than 3,700, which means there have now been over 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 in New York City.
  • Yesterday, two groups of governors announced that they were forming regional working groups to help plan when it would be safe to begin to ease coronavirus-related restrictions to reopen their economies. In the East, the governors of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island plan to establish a committee of public health officials, economic development officials, and their chiefs of staff to navigate easing their mitigation strategies. Governors Jay Inslee (Washington), Gavin Newsome (California), and Kate Brown (Oregon) have created the “Western States Pact” to work together on a joint approach to reopening their states’ economies.
    • Today, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state would eventually revisit its broad-based stay-at-home orders with the possibility of replacing them with more localized and less restrictive measures. He warned that, when things get back to normal, masks and face coverings will likely be commonplace for quite a while. Gov. Newsom also said patrons of restaurants are likely to have their temperature taken before being seated and will be served by someone in a mask and gloves. The Governor outlined several indicators that the state will try to meet before rolling back protective measures, which Oregon and Washington are likely to follow:
      • expanding testing and contact tracing, with the goal of isolating infected patients;
      • reducing the exposure of vulnerable people, such as the homeless and the elderly;
      • the ability of hospitals to handle a surge of patients;
      • a plan for businesses, schools and other facilities to open while maintaining social distancing; and
      • a plan to reinstitute restrictions if infections rise again.
  • Johns Hopkins University launched its newest 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.
  • Useful state data:
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • 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
  • President Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. will halt funding to the WHO until his administration has had an opportunity to review the WHO’s response to COVID-19.  
  • Britain’s Office of National Statistics released figures indicating that deaths could be at least 10 percent higher than the official toll — 12,107 as of today — which does not take into account many people who die in nursing homes or at home. More than 2,000 nursing homes, about 13 percent of the country’s total, have had coronavirus cases.
  • Italy today started to reopen some bookshops and children’s clothing stores.
  • Austria is now allowing thousands of hardware and home improvement stores to reopen, as long as workers and customers wear masks.
  • In Singapore, new lock down rules have been instituted after a second wave of COVID-19 hit. Anyone who breaks the rules, including spending time with anyone not in their household, can be imprisoned, fined the equivalent of $7,000, or both.
  • Chinese exports of N95 respirators, surgical masks, and other PPE have been delayed again as China’s customs agency hasn’t resolved a critical regulatory issue. After complaints came in from Europe stating that some medical supplies had quality problems, China’s customs administration issued a new regulation last week that each shipment of medical supplies must be inspected for quality before it can be exported. Consequently, the shipment of millions of masks, thousands of ventilators, and other equipment has been sorely delayed.
  • Measles immunization campaigns in 24 countries have been delayed, with more expected to be postponed. The Measles and Rubella Initiative stated they agreed with the WHO’s new guidelines recommending pausing preventative immunization campaigns where there is no active outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease as long as unvaccinated children are tracked.
  • A group of scientists, physicians, funders, and manufacturers from around the world have pledged to collaborate, in coordination with WHO, to help speed up the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19. Their statement can be found here.
  • Global Cases:  1,844,863               Total Deaths:  117,021
Lifestyle and Economy
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of clinical trials to grind to a halt, stalling research into cancer, strokes, dementia, and more. Read about it here.
  • Johnson & Johnson will launch a live weekly original educational series called “The Road to a Vaccine.” The eight-episode original series, hosted by journalist and producer Lisa Ling, will uncover the incredible scientific efforts underway around the world to develop a vaccine at unparalleled speeds. In each episode, we will discuss how it is being made possible—and what we might expect from an approved vaccine. Each week, Ling will be joined by expert Johnson & Johnson guests such as Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels, M.D., as well as leading scientists, public health experts and community health workers who are working tirelessly in the fight against coronavirus. From the lab to the frontlines, this series will bring you behind-the-scenes to learn about the work being done to help end this pandemic. Learn more here.
  • Although the standard has been to keep six feet of space between individuals to stop the spread of COVID-19 germs, researchers from M.I.T. found that a sneeze could send particles as far as 26 feet. This 3D simulator from the New York Times gives an incredible breakdown of how particles travel between humans.
  • The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) wants the federal government to implement a national COVID-19 diagnostic testing and support strategy. ASCP listed a series of recommendations including expanded laboratory testing infrastructure, prioritizing molecular testing for COVID-19, and enhancing existing surveillance programs to identify national outbreaks earlier.
  • More than a dozen black leaders in academic medicine wrote an op-ed in USA Today describing why and how the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on minority communities and especially the black community in the U.S. The authors also made recommendations for refining governmental and healthcare responses, including broadly recording and reporting demographic data on the virus’ spread and mortality; ensuring that minorities have access to current and emerging therapies and clinical trials; providing mobile testing sites for vulnerable urban and rural communities; communicating with disadvantaged communities through trusted local stakeholders and leaders; and organizing nationally, regionally, and locally to address the medical and social determinants of health.
  • Registration is now open for the next APHA webinar: Crisis Standards of Care During COVID-19, tomorrow at 5pm. Register here.
  • Financial technology firms PayPal, Square, and Intuit, after winning approval to participate in the loans distribution effort, are starting to lend to small businesses that couldn’t get access to COVID-19 relief funds through big banks.
  • After China reported a smaller-than-expected hit to trade and some countries began to take tiny steps to reopen their economies, the S&P 500 rose about 3 percent.
  • The IMF warned that the global growth is headed for its worst performance since the Great Depression, with a new forecast predicting the world economy will contract by 3 percent in 2020.
  • Airlines for America reported that American airline carriers have idled 2,200 aircraft and passenger volume is down 95 percent from a year ago.
  • 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.


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

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