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COVID-19 Update
October 20, 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

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
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 108,176 Iowans have tested positive, up 614 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 905,212 tested. 16 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 1,548 deaths. Now 83,416 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 12.0% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate 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 501 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.

Currently 15 counties are above 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days:

Harrison 22.9%
Sioux 22.0%
Taylor 20.5%
Delaware 19.0%
Monroe 18.9%
Carroll 18.7%
Osceola 18.6%
Humboldt 18.3%
Plymouth 18.1%
Cass 16.5%
O’Brien 16.1%
Winnebago 15.7%
Crawford 15.4%
Decatur 15.2%
Mahaska 15.0%

Des Moines Public Schools elementary students started their first day of hybrid learning yesterday, as the district attempts to come into compliance with statewide guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, to have at least 50 percent in person instruction.

Federal Actions
  • HHS and DoD announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs. The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program provides complete management of the COVID-19 vaccination process. This means LTCF residents and staff across the country will be able to safely and efficiently get vaccinated once vaccines are available and recommended for them, if they have not been previously vaccinated. It will also minimize the burden on LTCF sites and jurisdictional health departments of vaccine handling, administration, and fulfilling reporting requirements.
  • CMS released data showing that 21 percent of Medicare beneficiaries report forgoing non-coronavirus care due to the pandemic, and nearly all - 98 percent - of beneficiaries have taken preventative measures to keep themselves safe from the virus. According to the survey, the most common type of forgone care because of the pandemic was dental care (43 percent), followed by regular check-up (36 percent), treatment for ongoing condition (36 percent), and diagnostic or medical screening test (32 percent). The most common reason cited for forgoing care was not wanting to risk being at a medical facility (45 percent).
  • Here is the most recent 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.
  • And here is the most recent COVID-19 Science Update from the CDC. 
  • The CDC has continued to publish and update COVID-19 materials and resources on their dashboard. Recently the CDC posted the following helpful pages:
  • On Oct. 22, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s (CBER), Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet in open session, to discuss, in general, the development, authorization and/or licensure of vaccines to prevent COVID-19. No specific application will be discussed at this meeting. Read more here
  • 282 tests are authorized by FDA under EUAs; these include 220 molecular tests, 56 antibody tests, and 6 antigen tests.
  • Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 8, OSHA has cited 85 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,222,156. OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to: Implement a written respiratory protection program; Provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment; Report an injury, illness or fatality; Record an injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms; and Comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
  • More than 1,000 current and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemic intelligence officers signed an open letter, decrying "the ominous politicization" of the agency throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Following the release of the letter, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) called on the GAO to investigate the Trump Administration’s political influence over the CDC and the FDA, and to determine whether this interference has violated the agencies' scientific integrity and communication policies.
  • Talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin have continued, with major sticking points still remaining about additional COVID relief. Speaker Pelosi set a 48-hour deadline to strike a deal before the Election, but said any point after that window (end of the day Tuesday) will be too late for Congress to approve before Nov. 3. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is bringing a $500 billion skinny bill to the floor this week. 
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 8,128,524 total cases and 218,986 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • Only two states are showing downward trends in new COVID-19 cases of at least 10 percent compared to the previous week — Hawaii and Vermont. Twenty-seven states are showing upward trends, and 21 states are showing steady trends.
  • On Monday, Florida reported fewer than 2,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the first time in a week, according to the Department of Health.
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 34 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday announced the state will independently review the safety of any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine before it is distributed in the state.
  • Of the 50 largest school districts across the country, 24 have resumed in-person classes for large groups of students, and 11 others plan to in the coming weeks. An additional four have opened, or plan to open, for small groups of students who need extra attention.
  • Contact tracing revealed two out of three Chicagoans who tested positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus from someone they know, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner.
  • In response to a startling rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Amarillo and Lubbock areas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Friday that the state is sending additional medical resources to those areas.
  • Eighteen outbreaks of COVID-19 stemming from church services have been reported in parts of West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said.
  • On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced the launch of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Transparency website, providing oversight and public confidence in the expenditure of federal recovery funds as the State continues to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the state will withhold funds for localities and schools in COVID-19 cluster zones that fail to enforce public health laws.
  • Gov. Cuomo also announced that the state will provide 200,000 rapid test kits to New York City schools in "Yellow Zones,” that movie theaters outside of New York City can reopen at 25 percent capacity under state guidance starting Oct. 23, and that ski resorts can reopen with 50 percent indoor capacity and with strict health and safety protocols starting Nov. 6.
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Friday announced four steps that will go into effect Wednesday and stay in place at least through Nov. 30. Hospitals will need to protect 10 percent of their bed and intensive care availability to leave room for incoming COVID-19 patients. Indoor occupancy limits will be reduced from 75 percent to 50 percent, and individual groups at a gathering will be limited to eight per party. People patronizing bars and restaurants must remain seated, with table sizes limited to eight people. Wedding and funeral receptions must limit table sizes to eight people.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended an EO increasing the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminating cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced Monday that a mask mandate will be reinstated for nine counties in an effort to combat the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state. In addition, hospitals where elective procedures and surgeries are performed must reserve at least 10 percent of their available beds to care for COVID-19 patients. If they can't, all elective procedures in those hospitals must be delayed. The EO also limits outdoor social gatherings to 50 people and indoor social gatherings to groups of 10 people.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group held its first meeting last week. The group was created to advise the administration on preparations for a COVID-19 vaccine, including the optimization of a statewide vaccine distribution strategy, and communicating critical medical information about the vaccine with the state’s residents.
  • Connecticut’s Department of Public Health launched a new weekly, color-coded COVID-19 alert map for every city and town in the state, identifying the average daily case rate per 100,000 population over the last two weeks. The new weekly alert level is also accompanied by municipal-level guidance on recommended actions for individual residents, institutions such as schools, houses of worship, community organizations, municipal leaders, and local health directors.
  • Hawaii’s “Safe Travels Hawai’i” program has officially launched. Under the Safe Travels Hawai‘i program, travelers now have the option of taking a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test from a trusted testing partner, and if given a negative result for COVID-19, allowed to bypass the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine.
  • Organizers of the South Carolina State Fair will host the first ever drive-thru state fair this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive-thru fair is expected to start on Tuesday and will go through Wednesday.
  • A judge in Wisconsin ruled to uphold Gov. Tony Evers's EO that limits public gatherings to 25 percent of a building or room’s capacity.
  • The surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is so severe in the Kansas City area that some hospitals have been forced to refuse ambulances due to a lack of space.
  • 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.
    • 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, and this tracker, created and maintained by MultiState Associates, has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
International Affairs
  • Here is the most recent (10/16) edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update.
  • A total of 184 countries have now joined the Covax facility, which aims to finance vaccines to be distributed fairly to both rich and poor countries. Ecuador and Uruguay are the most recent countries to join.
  • The U.N. said it plans to stockpile one billion syringes around the world by the end of 2021, to be used for the delivery of any future coronavirus vaccine. UNICEF plans to stockpile 520 billion syringes in its warehouses by the end of the year.
  • Chinese health authorities investigating a recent COVID-19 outbreak say they have discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains.
  • Coronavirus cases continue to surge across Europe as leaders scramble to simultaneously slow the pandemic’s spread and compile resources to help treat the many people falling ill.
  • French health authorities said the number of people treated in intensive care units for COVID-19 has gone beyond the 2,000 threshold on Monday, a first since May 17.
  • At least half of India’s 1.3 billion people are likely to have been infected with coronavirus by next February, helping slow the spread of the disease, according to a member of a federal government committee tasked with providing projections.
  • After almost five months of a strict lockdown and dusk-to-dawn curfew, authorities in Kenya last month eased the restrictions meant to curb the spread of the pandemic. But on Sunday, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the relaxation of the rules could lead to a second wave of COVID-19. He said the percentage of positive test results had increased this month, after restrictions were lifted, and admissions to intensive care units had increased in recent days.
  • A temporary national lockdown will be put into place in Wales.
  • Ireland will move to the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions under the government’s five-tier roadmap for dealing with the virus.
  • Belgium has imposed a nationwide overnight curfew beginning yesterday.
  • Switzerland has made wearing face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces and limited in-person public gatherings to no more than 15 people.
  • Italian Prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced new measures over the weekend that allow mayors to close public squares after 9 PM, permitting access only to reach homes or businesses.
  • The Polish government announced Monday that it will turn the country’s national stadium into a field hospital capable of treating up to 500 patients at a time. In the past day, more than 7,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Poland, marking a positivity rate higher than 20 percent.
  • In Australia, restrictions in Melbourne have been eased, with residents no longer limited in the time they can spend away from home for education or socializing. Restrictions allowing people to travel three miles from home have been increased to 15 miles, and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households will be allowed. The partial reopening of shops, bars and restaurants will begin on Nov. 2.
  • Twenty-five crew members aboard a livestock carrier docked at a port in Western Australia have tested positive for the coronavirus. The ship, the Al Messilah, has 52 crew members, and the authorities warned that further positive test results were possible.
  • Restrictions on all nonessential travel at U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico remain in place until Nov. 21, U.S. Acting Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf said Monday.
  • Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also announced Monday that Canada will extend the border restrictions until Nov. 21.
  • Panama is the latest country to offer travelers a COVID-19 test when they arrive at its main airport, a little less than a week after resuming international flights following a seven-month suspension due to the pandemic.
  • A “test-and-release” system to cut the quarantine period for international arrivals to the U.K. should be in place by Dec. 1, Transportation Sec. Grant Shapps said.
  • South Africa’s health minister Zweli Mkhize and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Global Cases: 40,464,761               Total Deaths: 1,119,369
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Pfizer confirmed Friday it expects to seek emergency authorization of its experimental vaccine against COVID-19, if it is effective, in the third week of November.
  • Only 58 percent of respondents in a recent poll said they would get vaccinated right away, down from 69 percent who said the same in August. Among Black respondents, only 43 percent said that they would get the vaccine, down from 65 percent in August.
  • Dr. Tony Fauci suggested two additional ways to combat COVID-19 as the weather cools. The first is to keep windows open to promote airflow in indoor spaces, and the second is to wear a mask in your home if you're unsure whether or not your guests have been social distancing. 
  • The number of Hispanic Americans who died from the coronavirus increased from May to August, while all other racial groups saw a decline in fatalities according to the most recent MMWR article
  • Scientists out of Penn State have found that certain mouthwashes, and a %1 baby shampoo solution used to rinse the sinuses, can potentially neutralize the coronavirus. The results indicate that some of these products might be useful for reducing the viral load, or amount of virus, in the mouth after infection and may ultimately help to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • The U.S. budget deficit tripled to a record $3.1 trillion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, thanks in large part to the coronavirus. As a share of economic output, the budget gap in fiscal year 2020 hit roughly 16.1 percent, the largest since World War II production in 1945, according to the Treasury Department.
  • Commerce Department data showed that retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online, rose a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent in September. The gain marked the fifth straight month of retail-sales growth.
  • Unfortunately, U.S. industrial production fell in September, snapping four months of growth, in another sign of a slowing recovery. According to the Federal Reserve, output remains 7.1 percent below where it was in February, before the pandemic hit.
  • Do you have questions about vaccines? Try this article
  • 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. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints 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

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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