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COVID-19 Update
June 8, 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, 21,794 Iowans have tested positive, up 772 from our update Friday morning, with a total of 191,525 tested.  17 more deaths were reported since our update Friday, bringing the total to 606 deaths.  Now 12,828 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

Late Friday night, the Iowa House passed SF2338 (bill language in a committee amendment here), which is amended legislation that provides for business and health care providers liability protections related to COVID-19. The bill was approved along party lines 52-44. This legislation has become a top priority for the business lobby, as businesses reopen in the state.

The bill provides extensive protection against civil liability for COVID-19 for businesses and health care providers. It also provides protection for those who donated equipment, hand sanitizer or PPE. The bill contains a number of important provisions designed to protect businesses from lawsuits due to COVID-19, while still allowing litigation to proceed against those who would intentionally harm someone, act with reckless disregard or act with actual malice.

The bill:
  • Requires that individuals bringing suit meet minimum medical conditions, in this case hospitalization or death.  It also must be proved that the defendant in the case acted in in a way that was intended to cause harm or acted with malice.
  • Provides protections from liability lawsuits to persons in control of a facility unless that person recklessly disregards risks or acts with malice.
  • Provides protection from lawsuits if the business was in compliance with federal or state regulations, orders or guidance.
  • Provides protection from lawsuits to health care providers as their industry rapidly reacted to respond to COVID-19, treating patients with the virus, while other services and procedures were suspended.
  • Provides protection from lawsuits to those involved in providing products like disinfectants and face shields needed to fight the virus unless the person disregarded a substantial or unnecessary risk or acted with malice.
  • Contains language making the bill’s provisions retroactive to cover the entire period of the potential presence of the coronavirus COVID-19 in Iowa (January 1, 2020).
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, and it could be debated on the floor as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, with all indications it is a priority for Senate Leadership.

Legislators were sent home at the end of the day Friday and are set to return this week in hopes to finish the 2020 session by the end of this week or the following. The budget and tax policy have yet to be publicly introduced which will take up most of the conversation this week.

Federal Legislation
Supplemental IV – The Heroes Act (HR 6800)
Timeline/Process/Politics: Bipartisan negotiations have yet to begin, and Republicans are beginning to put together priorities for the next package. Leader McConnell likely won’t bring another COVID-19 supplemental to the floor until mid-July. If we consider how protracted the debate on the last bill was, negotiations may need a backstop like August recess to provide adequate pressure to move through the House and Senate. The jobs numbers Friday may have taken some pressure off Congress to move quickly, as the Trump administration touted the numbers as a victory. However, critics pointed out that the current crisis has made it difficult to define who is employed and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has had to modify their methodology extensively. All of that being said, the unemployment rate remains in double digits.
 
Policy: Republicans continue to push for liability protections and are working on strategies to combat the incentive structure of the federal boost to unemployment insurance. While the Heroes Act will not be taken up by the Senate (as Sen. McConnell has indicated), it can serve as an outline of Democratic priorities. Heroes Act text (as of 5/12/2020) here. Section by section here. One pager here. State and Local one pager here. NCAI’s summary on tribal provisions here. Manager’s amendment here. House Rules Committee report here.
 
The Department of Defense (DOD) has been socializing a $10.5 billion DOD-focused piece to be included in the next supplemental. The request is very similar to what was funding for DOD in the CARES Act, though they have yet to present it to the defense clerks.

Legislation to Watch
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act: Earlier this week the Senate passed the House PPP bill by unanimous consent. The bill was signed by the President Friday. Bill text here. PPP Loan Forgiveness Application here.
 
Details of the bill below:
  • Extends the PPP loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks after the loan is issued (or through 12/31/20 – whichever comes first). Those businesses who received a loan prior to passage of this bill can choose to keep the 8-week forgiveness window under the original program structure.
  • Extends from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020 the date by which businesses must restore staffing or salary levels previously reduced in order to have the full loan amount forgiven. This provision applies to worker and wage reductions made from February 15 through 30 days after enactment of the CARES Act (3/27/20).
  • Allows forgiveness amounts to be maintained for companies that can document their inability to rehire workers employed who were employed as of February 15 or their inability to find similarly qualified workers by the end of the year. Likewise, forgiveness amounts can be maintained if business can show that they could not resume business levels from before February 15 because they were following federal requirements for sanitization or social distancing.
  • Extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
  • Lowers the required percentage of forgiven loan amounts that come from payroll expenses from 75% to 60%.
  • Repeals a provision from the CARES Act that barred companies with forgiven PPP loans from deferring their payroll tax payments.
  • Allows borrowers to defer principal and interest payments on PPP loans until the SBA compensates lenders for any forgiven amounts (rather than the previous 6-month deferral period). Borrowers that don’t apply for forgiveness would be given at least 10 months after the program expires to start making payments.
  • Changes from 2 years to 5 years the minimum loan maturity period following an application for forgiveness {this only applies to PPP loans issued after enactment of this bill, though borrowers and lenders can agree to extend current loans}. 
New Implementation Information and Guidance
  • 6/5 – HHS leadership has indicated that they will begin distributed the remaining CARES Act funding soon. There will be another round of funding for hotspots soon, for hospitals that have had a certain level of COVID-19 inpatients between 1/1/2020 and some time in June. Providers will enter data on several variables, which will decide how much HHS will distribute to them. Another round of funding that will disbursed in the near future will go to hospitals with high levels of Medicaid DSH percentages and uncompensated care. HHS has also indicated that later down the line there will be funding distributed for the purpose of offsetting revenue loss and additional costs expended in preparing for and/or treating COVID-19 patients. HHS will likely set up a portal where hospitals can enter their lost revenue and expenses related to COVID-19. HHS has emphasized the necessity to keep all receipts and other records of expenses for preparing for COVID-19 patients.
Congress
Hearings/Floor Activity: House in pro forma session next week, no votes scheduled. It’s unclear if the House will continue to remain out until the end of July, considering the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The Congressional Black Caucus and House Judiciary Committee have been working with Rep. Clyburn on legislation. As of the current schedule, the House will return at the end of June for votes.
 
Appropriations: The Senate Appropriations Committee has released its 302(b) allocations to the subcommittee clerks. SAC plans to markup bills June 15-19, though it may slip to July. The schedule has been reported to be E&W, THUD, and Leg Branch on June 25; Interior, CJS, Ag, and DHS on July 2; and the remaining bills still have yet a subcommittee date to be set.
 
Subcommittees will poll their member rather than meet in person and save the in-person markups for full committee, to minimize the number of times that committee members have to gather.
 
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey sent out a Dear Colleague yesterday outlining that she plans to hold subcommittee and full committee markups the weeks of July 6 band 13. From there, the Committee is aiming to push all the bills to the House floor during the last two weeks of July, likely in two minibuses. Majority Leader Hoyer has said he wants to pass all the appropriations bills before the August recess.
 
House, Senate, and the White House have settled on an agreement for Veterans Affairs funding to exempt the Veteran’s Choice health care program from the budget caps and categorize it as emergency spending. This would save $11-$12 billion on the discretionary side and increase the odds of producing bipartisan bills.
 
NDAA: SASC is set to markup subcommittees next week (June 8-9) and hold the full committee markup June 10. MLAs have received their books and will be briefed tomorrow. Amendments are due 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4.
 
The HASC markup is tentatively scheduled for the end of June. Subcommittees will likely go on the week of June 22-26 and full committee will markup the last week of June or the week after. Markups will likely take place in a larger hearing room than normal. Aim is to pass the bill before August recess.
 
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)
Tested Positive (0):
Currently Self-Quarantined (0):
Recovered (7): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
Completed Quarantine (38): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
 
Other Federal Actions
  • Here is this week’s COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
  • The CDC dashboard posts updated guidance daily. Friday, the agency posted best practices for travel on public transit, rideshares and taxis, micro-mobility devices, and personal vehicles. 
  • Early data from a clinical study out of NIH suggest that blocking the Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) protein provided clinical benefit to a small group of patients with severe COVID-19. Researchers observed that the off-label use of the cancer drug acalabrutinib, a BTK inhibitor that is approved to treat several blood cancers, was associated with reduced respiratory distress and a reduction in the overactive immune response in most of the treated patients.
  • HHS posted a fact sheet titled, "HHS Initiatives to Address the Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and Other Racial and Ethnic Minorities."
  • On Tuesday, June 9th, at 12:00 PM, the FDA, along with speakers from CDC's NIOSH and OSHA, will begin a webinar series on the topic of Respirators for Health Care Personnel Use during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • The FDA issued an updated FDA COVID-19 Response At-A-Glance Summary that provides a quick look at facts, figures and highlights of the agency's response efforts.
  • Effective immediately, new guidance issued by the FDA expands the availability and capability of non-invasive monitoring devices. These remote devices facilitate patient monitoring while reducing patient and healthcare provider contact and exposure to COVID-19 for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new guidance expands the scope of the March 20th guidance to include additional device types (product codes) and provides additional references and standards for consideration.
  • VA officials announced that committal services at most department cemeteries will resume next week, while full memorial services will return next month.
  • There are multiple COVID-19 hearings slated to place in Congress next week:
    • Tuesday (6/9) 10 AM Senate Homeland Security: Hearings to examine the Federal government's procurement and distribution strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Tuesday (6/9) 12 PM House Energy and Commerce: Pollution and Pandemics: COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Environmental Justice Communities.
    • Tuesday (6/9) 2:30 PM Senate Finance: Hearings to examine unemployment insurance during COVID-19, focusing on The CARES Act and the roles of unemployment insurance during the pandemic.
    • Wednesday (6/10) 10 AM Senate HELP: Hearings to examine COVID-19, focusing on going back to school safely.
    • Wednesday (6/10) 12 PM House Financial Services: The Rent Is Still Due: America's Renters, COVID-19 and an Unprecedented Eviction Crisis.
    • Wednesday (6/10) 12 PM House Oversight: No Worker Left Behind: Supporting Essential Workers.
    • Thursday (6/11) 1 PM House Administration: The Impact of COVID-19 on Voting Rights and Election Administration: Ensuring Safe and Fair Elections.
    • Thursday (6/11) 1 PM House Appropriations: Indian Health Service COVID-19 Response.
    • Thursday (6/11) 2 PM House VA: Assessing VA's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: 90 Days Later.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,920,904 total cases and 109,901 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) approved Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal to re-open designated indoor/outdoor businesses and operations, including fitness facilities and bars. The businesses will open with limitations starting on June 19th.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the order moving Louisiana to phase two of the White House plan for reopening, while cautioning members of the public and businesses to continue to take mitigation measures, like wearing masks when in public, and encouraging social distancing.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to enter phase two of reopening on June 9th and Long Island is on track to enter phase two of reopening on June 10th.
  • Gov. Kate Brown (D) approved 26 counties to move to phase two of reopening on June 5th, 6th, and 8th under her framework for reopening Oregon.
  • Gov. Tom Wolf (D) amended the Pennsylvania yellow phase order to include 10 counties moving to the yellow phase today. In addition, the governor amended green phase orders to include 16 counties moving to the green phase.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued guidance for sporting activities in phases two and three in Washington. The guidance covers professional sporting activities, youth team sports, and adult recreational team sports.
  • Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced phase three of the Stay Safe MN plan allowing for re-opening of indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues beginning June 10th.
  • Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed an EO that will allow for certain activities in West Virginia to open beginning June 8th. They include low-contact outdoor youth sports, WVSSAC-sanctioned athletics and band summer training programs, little league sports practices, and all remaining adult sports facilities including indoor tennis courts, racquetball courts, outdoor basketball courts, and similar venues.
  • COVID-19 cases at two correctional facilities and an ICE detention center in Otero County, New Mexico are up to 583, according to the state’s department of health. 
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is tracking which states are reopening and which are still shut down.
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers, and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country.
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. 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 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
  • Peru is combating an oxygen shortage as cases of COVID-19 increase. Demand from hospitals and health clinics has recently multiplied around four- or five-fold due and prices of oxygen have spiked on the black market. Yesterday, Peru's President Martin Vizcarra acknowledged the public outcry and announced emergency measures (including $28 million to Health Ministry) to increase production and access to oxygen for medical purposes and declared the gas a strategic health resource.
  • In Mexico, since stay-at-home measures were ordered March 23rd, there has been an increase in homicides where women are the victims, according to government data released last week. April was the deadliest month in the last five years with a record 267 murders of women. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has dismissed the scale of the problem, blaming the governing model of his predecessors.
  • Saudi Arabia announced today that a curfew will be re-imposed in the city of Jeddah from 3 PM to 6 AM local time for 15 days starting Saturday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Prayers in mosques and working in offices will reportedly be suspended for the 15 days, and dining in restaurants and cafes will also be stopped. Last week, the government announced plans to lift the initial curfew fully starting on June 21st in most Saudi cities. However, over 1,500 new cases have been recorded daily for over a month in the kingdom.
  • The government of Spain is aiming to reopen the country for tourism in July. Just over half of Spain's population will advance next Monday to the final phase of deescalation, allowing for more activities and movement, as the government lifts additional confinement measures that have been in place since March to battle the pandemic.
  • Mosques across Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta reopened today for the first time in three months. The mass prayer led by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Baiturrahim Mosque, the Presidential Palace Complex, was the first to be held at the mosque since the implementation of large-scale social distancing in Jakarta due to COVID-19. In line with the country's health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19, the president wore a mask and had to undergo a body temperature check before entering the mosque.
  • France’s COVID-19 outbreak is now “under control,” according to the head of France’s government scientific advisory council. Jean-François Delfraissy said in an interview that, although the virus continues to circulate, it is doing so at a “slow speed.” He said he was confident that France now had “all the tools to detect new cases." Delfraissy attributed part of this slowdown to the widespread use of masks.
  • The WHO endorsed the use of face masks by the public to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The WHO had previously refused to endorse mask use, but told governments to encourage it. 
  • Global Cases:  6,036,623       Total Deaths:  403,131
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • The job market did start to turn around as some COVID-19-related restrictions were lifted and employers added 2.5 million jobs last month. Unfortunately, tens of millions of people remain out of work, and the unemployment rate, which fell to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April, remains higher than in any previous postwar recession.
  • Due to the relatively positive job market news, the stock market had a good day today. The S&P 500 rose 2 percent, and now sits only about 1 percent below where it started the year. 
  • New research suggests that by September, most American students will have fallen months or more behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms. And the disruption to education caused by the pandemic is likely to widen racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections, and direct instruction from teachers.
  • The University of Minnesota CIDRAP released an episode of the Osterholm Update: COVID-19 podcast about science and masks. In this episode, Dr. Osterholm and host Chris Dall discuss the current science on COVID-19 and cloth masks.
  • Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, plans to lay off nearly 700 employees this summer at its factories in Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina. The company is also trying to find buyers for the factories by mid-July, and expects to close them if it can’t.
  • BIO has a great tracker tool here, for all developing vaccines, treatments and antivirals. 548 unique compounds are currently in development.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. They are now reporting 133 potential vaccines, 10 of which are in clinical trials in the U.S., U.K., and China. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines
  • 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.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • RetailDive tracks store reopenings in the U.S. 
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 Biotechnology Association, All rights reserved.


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