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COVID-19 Update
May 27, 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

Governor 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.

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 18,187 Iowans have tested positive, up 543 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 138,336 Iowans tested.  20 more deaths were reported since our update yesterday, bringing the total to 481 deaths.  Now 9,842 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

The Governor announced at her press conference yesterday, that the existing disaster emergency proclamation will be extended to June 25. As previously announced, effective May 28, bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries and social clubs can reopen following social distancing and 50 percent capacity requirements. Restaurants and bars may also now set party sizes of up to 10 people instead of just 6.

Raceways and outdoor performance venues can hold live performances, bowling alleys amusement parks, casinos and arcades can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Skating rinks, skate parks, outdoor playgrounds can also reopen. June 1 sports gatherings can reopen, but venues are limited to 50 percent of operating capacity to meet social distancing requirements. This also allows practices, games, and competitions for youth and adult baseball, softball, and individual sports such as running, biking, swimming, tennis, and golf to resume with appropriate public health measures in place. Remaining businesses that are closed will be closed until June 17. Her full proclamation can be found here.

And the proclamation extends most regulatory relief to those affected by this public health emergency until June 25; However, the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions will expire at the end of today. The Governor announced she will allocate money from the CARES Act to a fund through the Iowa Finance Authority to prevent foreclosures and evictions through assistance for residential foreclosures and evictions. She did not know the exact amount that will be allocated to the fund. Those eligible must show a documented loss of income due to COVID-19 and meet income criteria. This week either Wednesday or Thursday more information will be available, and the website should be ready for Iowans on Friday.
 
Governor Reynolds said last week more than 28,000 Iowans were tested for COVID-19, and that Friday was the highest day for Test Iowa testing. As testing continues to increase, the number of positive tests continue to trend down. Now that Test Iowa criteria is open to whoever wants to take a test, they expect to see negative cases outpace positives.

Governor Reynolds is setting up a call with the Fair Board this week to discuss the State Fair for this year.

The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) published a map based on this Iowa State Study showing the impact of COVID-19 on Iowa Pork and Beef prices. The estimated losses through May 15 are $2.1 Billion to the hog industry and $658 Million to the cattle industry in the state.

IowaBio Member Highlights

Merck yesterday announced its multiple efforts to combat COVID-19. The company announced three significant scientific initiatives to combat COVID-19: two agreements to develop potential vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, and a research collaboration to advance the development of a novel antiviral candidate.
  • Merck will acquire Themis Bioscience, a company focused on vaccines and immune-modulation therapies for infectious diseases, including COVID-19;
  • IAVI and Merck are collaborating to develop a vaccine against COVID-19;
  • Merck and Ridgeback Bio are collaborating to advance the development of an oral antiviral candidate for COVID-19, EIDD-2801.
Read more here.

Federal Actions
  • HHS has delivered an 81-page COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan to Congress. The report outlines the national-level testing strategy, and recommends that states test at least two percent of their population by the end of June. The linked document outlines a state-by-state approach to COVID-19 testing, rather than a centralized national effort.
  • In response to the recent acceleration in the number COVID-19 cases in Brazil, President Trump has restricted U.S. entry for arriving travelers who have been to Brazil in the past 14 days. The list of international travel restrictions into the U.S. now includes: China, Iran, the European Schengen area, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, and Brazil. 
  • Many government agencies were pretty quiet over the long weekend, but the CDC continued to churn out updated guidance and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Over the last few days, the CDC published steps for evaluating and testing persons for COVID-19, new information about CDC diagnostic tests, and helpful information about antibody tests (among other resources). All CDC PSAs can be viewed here
  • The CDC also posted COVID-19Surge. COVID-19Surge is a spreadsheet-based tool that hospital administrators and public health officials can use to estimate the surge in demand for hospital-based services during the COVID-19 pandemic. A user of COVID-19Surge can produce estimates of the number of COVID-19 patients that need to be hospitalized, the number requiring ICU care, and the number requiring ventilator support. The user can then compare those estimates with hospital capacity, using either existing capacity or estimates of expanded capacity.
  • The FDA is hosting a virtual Town Hall today at 12:15 PM for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for COVID-19. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for COVID-19. 
  • The FDA issued an EUA in response to concerns relating to insufficient supply and availability of gowns and other apparel, such as operating-room shoe covers, for health care providers as PPE for health care settings in low or minimal risk level situations.
  • The FDA provided flexibility to farms regarding eligibility for the qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule during the pandemic. Farms that are currently eligible for the qualified exemption and associated modified requirements will still be considered eligible, even if they shift sales away from qualified end-users, so long as they continue to meet the requirement that their average food sales during the previous three years total less than $500,000.
  • The Senate is out for the week but the House is in session and hosting virtual hearings throughout the week. A handful of COVID-19 hearings are slated to take place in the next few days:
  • Republicans and Democrats remain divided over a few key issues including liability protections (both for employers and colleges), unemployment insurance, and funding for state and local governments, which will need to be addressed before the Senate will consider further COVID-19 legislation.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,662,414 total cases and 98,261 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 last week, an increase of 13 states from the previous week. South Carolina had the biggest weekly increase at 42 percent, Alabama’s new cases rose 28 percent, Missouri’s rose 27 percent, and North Carolina’s rose 26 percent.
  • California's Department of Public Health announced that, subject to approval by county public health departments, all retail stores can reopen for in-store shopping under previously issued guidelines.
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is recommending voluntary 14-day self-quarantine for those Kansans who traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, over the Memorial Day weekend and did not use protective measures, such as social distancing and face masks.  
  • Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that overnight facilities at West Virginia’s state parks and forests will start reopening to state residents only in following the guidelines of the Safer at Home order. Most day-use areas remain open to the public, though social distancing guidelines will be enforced.
  • Health care officials in Vermont announced that many medical businesses could open, especially for non-emergency procedures. Additionally, churches can fill more pews and operate at 25 percent capacity, and barbershops and salons can reopen on May 29th for limited services.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced the reopening of a variety of businesses including gyms, sporting facilities, pools, and many more.
  • Gov. Mike Parsons (R) announced the strategy to rapidly increase COVID-19 testing volume to 7,500 tests per day in Missouri.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced the extension of the state's "Safe-at-Home" order for one week until June 1st while loosening restrictions on some outdoor entertainment businesses. Starting June 1st, amusement parks, rides, water parks, go-cart tracks, mini-golf, and outdoor parks can open with certain restrictions. These facilities must operate at half capacity or less and there are additional requirements on sanitizing the park and social distancing.
  • Gov. Brad Little (R) announced a schedule to implement the recommendations of the Idaho Testing Task Force
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the state is making its contact tracing training curriculum available at no cost to all states through the National Governors Association to speed the process of creating contact tracing programs.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced the state will lift the ban on short-term rental units and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers on June 1st as part of the rolling reopening of Delaware’s economy.
  • Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) released industry-specific guidelines that allow for the safe reopening of businesses as the state progresses into the next phase of the Restore Illinois plan. All four regions of the state are on track to advance to Phase 3 of the plan in the coming days, allowing thousands of residents to return to work, and the reopening of businesses in the following industries: retail, offices, manufacturing, barbershops and salons, summer programs, various outdoor recreation activities, and bars and restaurants for outdoor dining.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an EO authorizing small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.
  • California's economy has taken a battering, with an estimated unemployment rate higher than 20 percent. With movie productions and the art industry down, the jobless rate has apparently reached 24 percent, which is equal to peak unemployment of the Great Depression. 
  • At least six Pueblo of Zuni citizens have died from COVID-19. The rising death toll on the Zuni reservation, which has about 8,000 people in western New Mexico, is raising concerns that the pandemic could devastate Native American nations with relatively few resources to battle the virus.
  • 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
  • The number of global COVID-19 cases has passed 5 million. 
  • The WHO Regional Office for Africa has provided training for Tanzanian health workers to equip them with skills for caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. A total of 160 health workers in Tanzania attended a three-day virtual training session organized by the Ministry of Health and the WHO.
  • The WHO Regional Office for Europe along with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that they will continue to repurpose their influenza surveillance systems to also detect the COVID-19 virus.
  • Officials in Wuhan have so far tested 6.5 million residents of their 11 million goal. As of this afternoon, only 200 tests have returned positive. 
  • Yesterday, Japan lifted the state of emergency on its remaining five prefectures, including Tokyo, which means that the emergency has been lifted for the entire country.
  • New Zealand, which has mounted one of the world’s most successful COVID-19 containment efforts, will permit gatherings of up to 100 people starting on May 29th. 
  • Singapore reported 383 new cases, 381 of which were among residents of migrant worker dormitories. Outbreaks in migrant worker dormitories continue to drive Singapore’s COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Mexico has recorded its largest single-day increases in both newly confirmed cases and reported deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak began.
  • Germany announced their social distancing restrictions will be extended until June 29th. A limit of 10 people are allowed to meet in public places. 
  • U.N. officials said they will meet on Thursday with over a dozen world leaders to discuss shoring up financial support for emerging economies hit hardest by the economic fallout from COVID-19.
  • Global Cases:  5,609,079      Total Deaths:  350,958
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • The WHO announced it would temporarily suspend the use of hydroxychloroquine following a recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet which raised safety concerns regarding the drug as a COVID-19 treatment. 
  • A new study found that there are four main risk factors that make COVID-19 victims more likely to have severe or life-threatening symptoms: age, sex, weight, and underlying illness. The study took into account data from more than 20,000 patients across 208 hospitals.  
  • Novavax said yesterday it has started the Phase 1 clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate and has enrolled the trial’s first participants, with preliminary results slated for July.
  • BIO’s coronavirus pipeline tracker today shows 501 unique compounds in development including 131 vaccines, 215 treatments and 155 antivirals.
  • As noted last Friday, data from a study published by researchers at the NIH concluded that remdesivir shortened the recovery time in adults with COVID-19 compared to a placebo. The research also notes a clear benefit when treatment was initiated early in the course of illness compared to later.
  • The stock market got a bit of a boost today, with the S&P 500 gaining 1.2 percent and crude oil prices on the rise. 
    • Likely due to the lifting of travel restrictions, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both gained more than 10 percent. 
  • The NHL is moving forward with tentative plans to resume the 2019-20 season; these plans do not constitute a commitment to play, but rather a framework under which to operate if the league determines it is safe to do so. 
  • The NBA is reportedly in talks with Disney to restart the 2019-2020 season at the company’s ESPN complex in Florida in late July. The location would serve as a “single site for an NBA campus for games, practices, and housing.”
  • On Friday, Bed Bath & Beyond announced plans to reopen 600 stores by June 13th, bring 11,000 associates back from furloughs, and expand contactless curbside pickup services. 
  • A recent study by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City found potential benefits of using convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 treatment, but stated that further analysis is needed.
  • A study published by researchers in the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia uses 18 previously published contact tracing and screening studies to evaluate the relative contribution of children in spreading COVID-19.
  • States are announcing safety guidelines to resume film and television production. On Friday, Georgia announced a filming “best practices” guide that stipulates temperature checks and masks while banning equipment-sharing. California was expected to release its own guidelines on Memorial Day, but no announcement has been made.
  • Researchers published data from a non-randomized Phase 1 clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine conducted in Wuhan, China. The vaccine candidate was generally well tolerated among the participants, with most adverse events being mild or moderate in severity and relatively short in duration. 
  • 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
  • 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 Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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