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COVID-19 Update
June 4, 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, 20,574 Iowans have tested positive, up 557 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 173,280 Iowans tested.  14 more deaths were reported since our update yesterday, bringing the total to 578 deaths.  Now 12,157 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

Legislators returned Wednesday morning from their more than two-month break during the initial spread of the coronavirus. Over the coming days, they will work to finish passing policy bills and craft the state budget.

As Iowa’s legislative session resumed yesterday, an anti-vaccination rally was held outside the capitol. Representative Jeff Shipley (R-Birmingham) spoke at the rally saying, "It doesn't matter that this vaccine doesn't exist, it's probably impossible to develop a safe vaccine, it's hardly going to work anyway and this virus isn't even killing anybody. They must think you're really stupid," he told the crowd. For more on the start of session amid coronavirus and the rally click here.

Visitors to the capitol were required to undergo a temperature check before entering. A staff member offered face masks to those who wanted them. Signs encouraged people to maintain 6 feet of social distancing, and several hand sanitizer stations could be found around the building.  During subcommittee meetings, chairs were set up a few feet apart, rather than in the traditional side-by-side rows, to encourage social distancing. The subcommittee meetings were live-streamed to a television outside the room, and submission of comments online was encouraged. You can watch live stream of the session by visiting the legislative website here.

Legislators got to work on some of their major priorities Wednesday. Liability protections for Iowa businesses, a new coronavirus-related priority, advanced through both a House subcommittee and committee on Wednesday as an amendment to an existing bill.  
 
Legislators are facing a Saturday deadline, known as the “second funnel,” to pass most policy bills through either the Senate or the House as well as a committee in the other chamber to remain eligible for consideration.  Next week the legislators will turn their attention to the budget. 

Federal Legislation
Supplemental IV – The Heroes Act (HR 6800)
Timeline/Process/Politics: While internal discussions between Republicans have begun, some have said that Leader McConnell likely won’t bring another COVID-19 supplemental to the floor until mid-July. Notably, some committees have not been told by Republican leadership to begin compiling priorities for the next bill. If we consider how protracted the debate on the last bill was, negotiations may need a backstop like August recess to provide pressure.
 
The Senate passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act today took some pressure off to move quickly. However, outside groups that usually side with Republicans (i.e. the Chamber of Commerce) have pushed Congress to move quickly on passing another bill,
 
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.
 
Legislation to Watch
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (HR 7010): After overcoming two holds on the bill, earlier today the Senate passed the House bill by unanimous consent. The bill is now on its way to the president for signature. 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}.
Infrastructure: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its piece of an infrastructure package. The Committee plans to mark up its part of the package on June 17. Text here. Bill summary here. Section by section here.
 
Other committees that will have a say in an infrastructure package include Ways and Means (financing), Energy and Commerce (water, broadband), Education and Labor Committee (school construction), and House Financial Services (Housing). The Ways and Means piece will likely include members’ priorities (items in the bonding/tax credit space) and possibly parts the Green Act (press release here, section by section here, text here). On a Ways and Means call the committee indicated that because the infrastructure package is a stimulus, they will not be expected to include payfors.
 
New Implementation Information and Guidance
  • 6/2 – Treasury expects that the next round of payments to tribes from the Coronavirus Relief Fund will be delayed by a week after problems with the data request. Per a court document filed yesterday, Treasury indicated that as of the May 29 deadline for the data request, 61 tribes had not made submissions and many submissions that were received were incomplete or had errors. As of 6/2, Treasury was missing submissions from 57 tribes, and 336 submissions contained incomplete/incorrect information.
  • 6/2 – HHS/ASPR published a website giving an overview of hospital funding put out to date. Website here.
  • 6/2 – CDC published a website outlining the funding that has gone to state, local, tribal and territorial health departments. Website here. For tribal funding, the column is blank for CARES funding, but at the bottom you see the total is $125 million for tribal health departments. CDC explained on a call that this is due to the fact that tribal funding is going out on a rolling basis based on applications, and is not a set formula. 
Congress
Hearings/Floor Activity: House in pro forma session this week, no votes scheduled. It’s unclear if the House will continue to remain out until the end of July, considering the nationwide 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.
 
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. SAC will likely not markup the Homeland Security and MilCon/VA bills. 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.
 
The House Appropriations Committee aims to begin its FY21 markups after July 4 recess, with subcommittees marking up on July 6-7. Full committee will mark up later that week or the next. 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
  • The Trump Administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for COVID-19. The five companies are Moderna, Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer. By narrowing the pool, the government is hoping to identify the most promising vaccine projects at an early stage, and speed along the process of determining which will work to ensure that the winner or winners can be quickly manufactured in huge quantities and distributed in mass quantities. 
  • Indian Health Service (IHS) announced that it is forming a Critical Care Response Team of expert physicians, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals on an as needed basis to provide urgent lifesaving medical care to COVID-19 patients admitted to IHS or tribal hospitals. These expert medical professionals will conduct hands-on clinical education while treating patients, expanding capacity and training the frontline health care professionals on the most current information for the management of COVID-19 patients, and other critically ill patients. In the event a hospital or other medical location needs additional resources, the critical care response team can be mobilized and at the bedside of the patient within 24-48 hours notice.
  • HHS/ASPR is providing an additional $250 million to aid U.S. health care systems treating patients and responding to COVID-19. As authorized by the CARES Act, HHS has now provided a total of $350 million to health care systems for pandemic response, including $100 million released in April 2020. The funds will support hospitals and other health care entities to train workforces, expand telemedicine and the use of virtual healthcare, procure supplies and equipment, and coordinate effectively across regional, state and jurisdictional, and local health care facilities to respond to COVID-19. Specific funding for these awardees can be found on phe.gov/hpp.
  • CMS Administrator Seema Verma penned a blog post in HealthAffairs, "New CMS Payment Model Flexibilities For COVID-19."
  • The Director of NIH's office of AIDS research said that the NIH is in the early stages of bringing back staff who work on matters not related to COVID-19 research. Over the last few months, many non-COVID studies have been paused. 
  • Please continue to check the CDC dashboard where they post updated guidance daily. Today, they posted updates to the Interim COVID-19 Contact Tracing Communications Toolkit for Health Departments
  • There are multiple COVID-19 hearings set for this week. **memo available upon request:
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,827,425 total cases and 106,202 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that Maryland will begin Friday to move into stage two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ with a gradual reopening of certain businesses, along with additional personal services.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said today that the majority of the state will move to phase two of its plan to reopen this coming Friday.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) renewed the 90-day disaster declaration he originally signed on March 6th following the announcement of the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. The declaration was set to expire on June 4th.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the third phase of the state's plan to safely open the economy while containing the spread of COVID-19. Under phase three, effective immediately, all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at up to 50 percent capacity, with very limited exceptions.
  • Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced details about phase two of reopening, allowing for 31 counties to apply to enter phase two on Friday, June 5th.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said today that 7 regions in the state will be able to enter phase two and resume outdoor dining tomorrow. 
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an EO allowing counties to provide three days of early voting ahead of the November 3rd general election, if they are to consolidate in-person sites to limit mass gatherings during the pandemic. With the order, registered voters in California can begin casting ballots the Saturday before the general election. Drop-box locations will be accessible from October 6th to November 3rd.
  • 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
International Affairs
  • Two thousand Brazilians will participate in tests of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca pharmaceutical.
    • Sao Paulo's government has projected that its COVID-19 cases could double by the end of the month. 
  • Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through classrooms — including at least 130 cases at a single school — has led officials to close dozens of schools where students and staff were infected. In response, officials have put in place a new policy which orders any school to close where a virus case emerges.
  • Germany will lift its travel ban on 29 European countries, including Britain and Iceland, on June 15th and replace it with travel advisories. According to the new rules, if regional infections increase, bans to specific countries could be reinstated.
  • India is dealing with the aftermath of a powerful cyclone, which pushed thousands of people into shelters in the commercial hub of Mumbai, which is struggling to contain a rising number of infections. More than 100 COVID-19 patients were evacuated from a makeshift hospital to higher ground.
  • The architect of Sweden’s unique anti-lockdown approach to fighting COVID-19 said that, in light of the high death rates, he should have advised more restrictions on society to protect lives. Sweden has reported upward of 38,000 coronavirus cases and 4,468 deaths, giving it a far higher per capita death rate than other Nordic countries, which all introduced mandatory lockdowns.
  • As COVID-19 sweeps through Yemen, rebels who control the north of the country have been threatening medical workers to remain silent, part of an effort to cover up the true toll of the outbreak. In southern Yemen, ill-equipped hospitals are turning away patients with virus symptoms, leaving them uncounted and often to die at home, according to international aid workers, local health officials, and postings on social media.
  • Nearly 44,000 more people have died since the beginning of 2020 than in the same period last year — an increase of 24 percent — Spain’s National Statistics Institute reported Wednesday.
  • Global Cases:  6,535,019      Total Deaths:  386,464
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada published a study in which hydroxychloroquine didn’t prevent people from contracting COVID-19 after exposure any better than those who received a placebo. About 12 percent of people given the pills tested positive for the virus or developed symptoms such as fever or breathing difficulties, compared with 14 percent of people given a placebo.
  • Visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. decreased 42 percent over four weeks in April, compared to the same period in 2019, according to a new analysis released today by the CDC. The declines were greatest among children 14 and younger, women and in geographic areas like the Northeast. While there were high numbers of emergency room visits because of the virus, including an increase in visits related testing for infectious diseases and for pneumonia, these were outweighed by the steep declines in visits that typically make up trips to the emergency room.
  • Public Health England (PHE) published findings from its analysis of various disparities related to COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in the U.K. The study found that older individuals are at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death, and indicated an increased risk of infection for Black ethnic groups and elevated risk of death among Black and Asian ethnic groups. 
  • In a recently published study on the contract tracing, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) found that a "one-size-fits-all" approach across states and counties will not work to contain COVID-19. The study addressed the challenges of contract tracing, including the relative costs and benefits of various types of contact tracing (eg, widespread vs targeted), the role of quarantine and isolation, the use of technological solutions (eg, smartphone apps), and potential adverse effects.
  • 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.
  • The NBA’s team owners are preparing to vote tomorrow on a formal plan to resume play. The NBA plan calls for bringing back 22 of the league’s 30 teams and stationing them all at Walt Disney World in Florida, where they would each play eight games to decide a 16-team playoff field with no fans.
  • As casinos in Las Vegas have started to reopen, employees are weighing the risks of returning to work. 
  • Amazon said it would offer up to 10 days of subsidized emergency child and elder care to its 650,000 employees in the U.S., a move that would support employees and keep them showing up for work as the company adjusts to the demands of the pandemic. The benefit will end in early October.
  • Zoom said on Tuesday that its revenue soared to $328.2 million in the quarter that ended April 30th, a 169 percent jump over the same period last year.
  • 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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