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COVID-19 Update
April 10, 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

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 125 additional positive cases for a total of 1,270 positive cases. There have been an additional 882 negative tests for a total of 13,703 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 2 deaths were also reported.

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

At the Governor’s press conference yesterday, Beth Townsend Director of Iowa Workforce Development covered unemployment benefit programs and how to apply. IWD is waiving employer charges now until they get to a trigger for employer charges once Unemployment Trust Fund reaches $950 million. There is currently $1.13 Billion in the trust fund—$180 million from the trigger. The state is currently in tax table 7 (which determines employer unemployment tax rates) and Director Townsend thinks the trigger will help keep next year tax table at a lower rate and minimize impact of this event on employer tax rates. Townsend reminded everyone that you can’t voluntarily quit your job and receive unemployment benefits.

The Governor broke down the statistics for the six regions and where they are on a ten-point scale they use to describe the severity of the outbreak in that region.

She talked about workers, businesses and individuals who are manufacturing PPE. PPE is going to continue to be an issue. They are deploying it where they need it, but she said they “can’t let up for a second.”

The Governor fielded questions about testing. She said individual providers are able to do tests and the State Hygienic Lab (SHL) is able to do additional testing. SHL did get 15 of the Abbott COVID-19 test machines that get results in 5 minutes, but there are a limited number of tests for these machines now. The machines, that look like small boxes, are mobile. IDPH will look at where the hotspots are and look at areas of the state where the machines will be most beneficial like long term care facilities.

Federal Actions
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos said yesterday she was moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in coronavirus economic stimulus money that has been earmarked for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The funding is the first tranche of the nearly $31 billion of overall education aid that was included as part of last month’s stimulus package. The bill makes available aid for college students for things like technology, course materials, food, shelter, and health care. Allocations are available here.
  • NIH has started a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of adults hospitalized with COVID-19. The first participants are now enrolled in Tennessee.
  • The White House COVID-19 task force released testing data today and provided a breakdown of how the virus is impacting various age groups. The data highlights that, in the higher age groups, there are also higher rates of infection. Of those tested:
    • 11 percent of those under 25 were positive.
    • 17 percent of those between 25 and 45 were positive.
    • 21 percent of those between 45 and 65 were positive.
    • 22 percent of those between 65 and 85 were positive.
    • 24 percent of those over 85 were positive.
  • CMS announced that they have temporarily suspended a number of rules so that hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities can boost their frontline medical staffs. The changes affect doctors, nurses, and other clinicians nationwide, and focus on reducing supervision and certification requirements so that practitioners can be hired quickly and “perform work to the fullest extent of their licenses.”
  • CMS has updated their Q&A to assist Medicare providers to a more recent version.
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for violations of the HIPAA Rules against covered entities or business associates in connection with the good faith participation in the operation of COVID-19 testing sites during pandemic response. The notification was issued to support certain covered health care providers, including some large pharmacy chains, and their business associates that may choose to participate in the operation of a Community Based-Testing Site (CBTS), which includes mobile, drive-through, or walk-up sites that only provide COVID-19 specimen collection or testing services to the public.
  • The Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield calling for immediate racial data reporting for COVID-19 in every state. The letter urges the CDC to prioritize the collection and reporting of vital public health data which will include race and risk factors. The letter is in response to the alarmingly high rates at which black Americans and other minorities are being infected by, and dying from, COVID-19.
  • The FDA’s daily COVID-19 roundup is available here.
  • This resource is tracking recent statements from members of Congress about COVID-19.
  • Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the White House COVID-9 task force from yesterday’s press briefing are available here.
  • The Senate was unable to pass a bill by unanimous consent (Republican bill here, Democratic bill here) and adjourned. Speaker Pelosi has previously indicated that the next Democrat-led supplemental proposal will be similar to the recently passed CARES Act, with focuses on small business assistance, unemployment benefits, direct payments to individuals and families, and additional funding for public health. The bill will likely include significant plus ups to programs outlined in CARES and provisions from the Pelosi bill from two weeks ago.
  • No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. 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 to test positive (or be presumptive positive) at this point. Five other members are in self-quarantine.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 427,460  travel-related: 1,930 “close contact”: 9,763 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The CDC is reporting 14,696 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • New York continues to see high death and infection rates of COVID-19. For the second day in a row, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo compared the impact of the virus to the September 11th terrorist attacks, referring to the outbreak as a “silent explosion that ripples through society with the same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.” New Yorkers are encouraged to continue complying with social distancing measures.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state will be dividing up 500 ventilators to send to Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. The Governor has been criticized for his decision to send California resources to other states during this time of crisis, but he has backed up his decision by insisting it was the right and responsible action to help other states.
  • While many states have canceled school for the remainder of the year, some governors have yet to make decisions about state-wide closures. This map continues to track state-by-state school closures.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves reported an 8000 percent increase in unemployment in his state.
  • This week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced his plan to extend the state of emergency through May 13th to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It was previously set to be lifted on April 13th.
    • Multiple other governors have made similar announcements this week, all of which are highlighted in the MultiState tracker below.
  • 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
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care today. He is reportedly in good spirits.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is cautiously optimistic about her country’s prevention of COVID-19 spread. She will not be lifting the restrictions on social distancing, however.
  • OPEC and the other oil-producing countries agreed to cut about 10 million barrels of oil per day, or about 10 percent from normal production levels, in May and June. The Group of 20 nations will meet tomorrow to discuss furthers cuts.
  • European Union finance ministers agreed today on the outlines of a loan package worth more than half a trillion euros to help the bloc’s nations relieve the severe economic blow from the pandemic. The agreement includes 100 billion euros to fund unemployment benefits, €200 billion for loans to smaller businesses, and up to €240 billion lent by the Eurozone’s bailout fund to member states, to cover potentially crippling health care-related costs.
  • As millions of Christians, Jews and Muslims celebrate Easter, Passover and Ramadan, WHO has released guidance for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19.
  • All members of Botswana’s Parliament have been confined to mandatory quarantine due to possible COVID-19 exposure.
  • Global Cases:  1,436,198               Total Deaths:  85,522
Lifestyle and Economy
  • The stock market is up yet again, posting the biggest week of gains since 1974. The S&P 500 added about 1.4 percent and the Dow increased by about 1.2 percent. One reason analysts have said stocks have proved to be more resilient than expected: central bankers have stepped in to provide unprecedented levels of support for the economy.
    • Many of the major stock markets in the world will be closed tomorrow for public holidays.
  • An additional 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. The three-week total is now greater than 16 million which is more than we saw in the last recession over the course of two years.
  • COVID-19 is starting to creep into meat processing plants, where workers are confined to close quarters and are unable to take time off from work. Some plants have offered financial incentives to keep workers on the job, but the virus’s swift spread is causing illness and forcing plants to close, like Smithfield Foods’ pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who announced today that it would close temporarily after more than 80 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Doctors and nurses across the country are being instructed by their employing health systems not to speak to news outlets about resource shortages.
  • The American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Academy of Medicine have hosted a series of webinars to explore the state of the science surrounding the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. and globally, with a focus on the emerging evidence on how to best mitigate its impact. The transcripts of webinars 1 and 2 are available here, and webinar 3 should be ready soon.
  • 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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