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COVID-19 Update
May 29, 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, 18,752 Iowans have tested positive, up 254 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 146,216 Iowans tested.  19 more deaths were reported since our update yesterday, bringing the total to 519 deaths.  Now 10,563 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

At the Governor’s press conference, Sarah Reisetter gave an overview of how the state is handling business outbreaks. Reisetter confirmed an outbreak at the Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake, with 555 testing positive so far.

Reisetter said IDPH becomes aware of outbreaks when businesses tell them or the state facilitates testing at a site. Businesses are not required to report outbreaks to the state. Iowa law requires confirmation of outbreaks only when necessary to protect the public. IDPH has determined this disclosure is only necessary when there is a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. IDPH does not routinely collect information about employee numbers to enable confirmation of when 10 percent of the employees at a workplace might have tested positive. They are working on these processes, she said.

Governor Reynolds spoke about the importance of the food supply chain and essential workers in Iowa, and how they have worked through COVID-19. In touch with 50 different processors and manufacturers to offer to coordinate surveillance testing for employees and conduct contact tracing. The Governor covered the deep impacts of COVID-19 on Iowa’s farmers. She spoke about funding sources that cover farm losses, including the CARES Act.

She appropriated $24 million to IDALS for a new program to help Iowa pork producers. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig spoke about the challenges for processing capacity which has been massively disrupted by COVID-19, with packing plants running at less capacity or shutting down due to COVID-19. This has resulted in farmers struggling to find harvest capacity for their meat.

Approximately 600,000 pigs by mid-May were backed up on farms in Iowa, according to an Iowa State Study. Farmers are even changing feed rations to slow down gain, finding new markets or donating meat. The backlog is larger than these solutions can address, Naig said. He said humane euthanasia is a last resort to prevent animal welfare issues, but some farmers are facing this emotionally stressful decision. The Disposal Assistance Program will help defray the costs for producers to appropriately dispose of animals. It does not compensate the farmer for the market loss of the animal. The program is open for application now through IDALS, and will be distributed in three rounds of funding.

Governor Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Gregg also announced over $3.5 million in additional funding will be released to food programs to help food insecure Iowans. $500,000 will go to help the Pass the Pork program and expand it to turkey, beef and eggs. $I million will go to purchase bulk products, package them and distribute them, using Americorp volunteers. Funding will also go to food banks. Other funding will go to an existing program to supplement it through a dollar for dollar match for purchase of fruits and vegetables with SNAP dollars at farmers markets.

The Iowa Legislature will reconvene Wednesday, June 3rd.  The Senate has released their week’s committee schedule which can be found here.

LSA published a document showing the status of the Small Business Relief program, which uses revenue from a combination of state and federal CARES Act dollars. The report shows approximately $78.3 million of the $124.5 million fund has already been awarded to 4,162 businesses.
 
Federal Actions
  • There has not yet been movement in the Senate on an additional supplemental appropriations package. The House did pass a bill today that would make it easier for small businesses to utilize funds under the new Paycheck Protection Program, but Senate leaders have not signaled support for the measure. The House legislation would give businesses more time to have the loans forgiven and paid off by the U.S. government. 
  • President Trump announced he will extend National Guard orders authorizing domestic COVID-19 response missions through mid-August amid concerns that a previous end date would have complicated state support missions and denied the Guardsmen benefits.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,698,523 total cases and 100,446 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • COVID-19 infections and deaths are still on the rise in more than a dozen states. 
  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) approved several proposals from mayors across the state to reopen more businesses and operations under public health guidelines.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an EO which implements Phase 2 of the Stay Safe MN plan. Phase 2 includes outdoor dining at restaurants and bars to start June 1st with safety measures and capacity limits. Personal services like salons and barbershops can also open on June 1st at 25 percent capacity.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an EO authorizing businesses to deny entry to individuals not wearing masks or face-coverings.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that the state will remain in phase one of its reopening for a minimum of another week, while Northern Virginia can enter phase one of reopening on Friday. Gov. Northam also signed an EO requiring masks in indoor spaces.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that assisted living and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can allow outdoor visitation beginning June 8th.
  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced that movie theaters and bars will be allowed to open on Saturday, two weeks earlier than originally announced. Gatherings of up to 50 people will also be allowed, but businesses must follow social distancing requirements.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced that phase two of the state's reopening will begin on June 1st, including indoor dining at 50 percent capacity and personal services at limited capacity.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that starting tomorrow, sports fans will be allowed to attend games at outdoor venues in most counties in the state, so long as occupancy is limited to 25 percent. Fans still cannot attend indoor sporting events.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said today that schools in his state will allow in-person classes in the fall. Details are forthcoming. 
  • 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
  • Spain's Health Minister said the country will start lifting restrictions on Monday. 
  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that there will be a comprehensive easing of restrictions starting June 1st. Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen on June 1st, but bars and hookah cafés will remain closed. Additionally, a travel restriction prohibiting entry and exits from major metropolitan areas including Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir will be lifted.
  • French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said parks will reopen starting this Saturday, and beaches, lakes, sporting facilities, museums, and monuments will reopen on June 2nd. He added that gatherings must be limited to 10 people and the capacity of outdoor spaces will be limited to 5,000 people, under the condition that social distancing rules are enforced. It will be up to local mayors and regional officials to decide if masks should be mandatory for people visiting parks, beaches, and lakes. 
  • Houses of worship in Jordan will be allowed to reopen under public safety controls starting June 5th. Mosques will initially reopen for Friday prayers on June 5th, and other prayers will be allowed gradually.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain will begin lifting lockdown restrictions starting Monday in a phased approach.
  • Italy has seen a steady decline of cases and deaths and the number of active cases has finally dipped below 60,000.
  • Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte approved a recommendation on Thursday to relax COVID-19 lockdown measures in the capital city of Manila starting June 1st.
  • In what is being referred to as "phase one" of reopening, people in Scotland may meet with people from one other household starting tomorrow, but the group must not exceed 8 people in total.
  • The UN World Food Programme (WFP) estimates 13.7 million people could experience severe food insecurity due to the effects of COVID-19 this year. As job availability and economies decline, the WFP estimates the amount of people currently experiencing food insecurity- 3.4 million- could quadruple in 2020.
  • Global Cases:  5,837,541      Total Deaths:  360,919
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • A French study found 1 in 10 diabetic patients with COVID-19 died within a week of being hospitalized. Fewer than 20 percent were discharged within the week.
  • According to a senior administration official, the White House won’t issue updated economic projections this summer because of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The official said COVID-19 has resulted in fluctuating economic data, and that White House projections wouldn’t provide a meaningful snapshot of the economy. 
  • The Commerce Department reported the U.S. GDP fell at a 5.0% annual rate in the first quarter, adjusted for seasonality and inflation.
  • Initial claims for unemployment benefits declined to a seasonally adjusted 2.1 million last week from 2.4 million the prior week.
  • The American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, and dozens of other higher education groups sent a letter to lawmakers on Thursday expressing “fears of huge transactional costs associated with defending against COVID-19 spread lawsuits” without more legal protections. The action comes as institutions that have lost millions in revenue from closures are facing huge financial pressures to reopen and are trying to figure out how to do so while protecting the health of students and staff.
  • The National Restaurant Association released updated guidelines Wednesday, informed by the CDC and FDA. Recommendations include handler training for workers, contactless payment systems, and floor-plan updates for common dining areas. 
  • County officials approved Walt Disney World’s phased reopening plan: Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are set to open on July 11th, with EPCOT and Hollywood Studios following on July 15th. The plan still needs approval from the mayor and governor. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are planning to reopen in June.
  • MGM Resorts will reopen four Las Vegas casinos on June 4th, including the Bellagio and the MGM Grand. The announcement follows reopening guidelines just issued by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
  • 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
  • WHO has published a population-based age-stratified seroepidemiological investigation protocol for COVID-19 virus infection. This protocol was designed to investigate the extent of infection, as determined by positive blood tests in the general population, in any country in which COVID19 virus infection has been reported.
  • 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. 
  • Italy’s Serie A, the country’s top-flight professional football league, will restart its season on June 20th.
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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