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COVID-19 Update
April 9, 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

Governor Reynolds’s COVID-19 press conferences will be held going forward Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m.. on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page and YouTube.
 
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 102 additional positive cases for a total of 1,048 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,017 negative tests for a total of 11,670 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 1 death was 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.
 
Yesterday at her press conference the Governor spoke about the state’s small business assistance programs. She said there is very high demand for state programs for small businesses. Fourteen thousand people applied for Small Business Relief Grant applications and $148 million in total eligible assistance was requested, way outstripping available funds. No new applications will be accepted. The program closed March 31.

Governor Reynolds said IEDA expanded the program to $24 million using funds from the emergency fund. The first round of funding went out to businesses with biggest revenue disruption. Grants ranged from $5-$25,000. 503 grants went out in the first round of $10 million. Additional money will go out to other applicants up to the $24 million cap.

Debi Durham Director of IEDA said that although this program is closed, IEDA has a resource page on all the programs available to businesses. That website is here: https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/our-agency-detail-resources/6710

Governor Reynolds said Iowa will be getting a 1.25 Billion block grant from the CARES Act. Governors are asking for state flexibility, for example to ask that the legislative council give the Governor additional authority to get funds out from the CARES Act.

The Governor covered each region’s COVID-19 statistics including hospitalized patients, and resources like beds and ventilators. She said patient volumes are manageable and resources are adequate. The Governor positive cases each day have been pretty stagnant which is the aim—to flatten the curve.

Des Moines Public Schools have moved to distance learning for the rest of the year. The Governor said within two weeks prior to April 30, she will give them a “heads-up” on the recommendation her office will give to other school districts. They are also looking at ways to help provide needed resources, as well.

IowaBio Member Highlights

Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) is helping Iowa, and the rest of the country, meet the huge demand for COVID-19 test components. IDT recently announced its success in ramping up large-scale manufacturing of a key component used to enable testing for COVID-19: a primer and probe kit, which assists in DNA analysis of patient samples. IDT was the first company in the nation to have its primer and probe kits approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With its accelerated production, IDT can now produce components for as many as five million tests per week. As of April 3, 2020, IDT has produced primer and probe kits sufficient to enable approximately 23 million tests to be conducted in the US pursuant to the CDC EUA testing protocol.

Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have collaborated to ramp up testing capacity and speed up COVID-19 test processing. ISU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory loaned critical equipment and reagents to ensure the State Hygienic Lab can run more tests simultaneously. ISU has loaned the lab sophisticated test-processing equipment and reagents, the basic chemical compounds needed to test for the virus by isolating and identifying its genetic identity. The additional equipment will allow SHL to run more tests simultaneously and grow its capacity to process a greater volume a tests, shortening turnaround time for test results.  

Federal Legislation

Supplemental IV – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief

Timeline/Process: In a statement Tuesday morning, Leader McConnell indicated that he aimed to pass an additional $250 billion for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) later this week by unanimous consent or by voice vote. Tuesday evening the Administration sent a letter officially requesting additional funding for the program. This morning, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer issued a joint statement, which called for—beyond additional PPP funding—additional money for hospitals, state and local governments, and an increase in SNAP. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that she is hesitant to immediately provide more funding for the program without ensuring there is adequate fairness in how the money is distributed, asserting that first-come, first-serve strategy will not ensure money is flowing to every community and business that needs support. There may need to be changes to the initial proposal of $250 billion more for SBA program, as there may not be enough support to pass the bill by unanimous consent.

Policy: Republicans have pushed for more funding for the small business program, while Democrats have advocated expanding the bill to include additional emergency measures. As a vote could occur as soon as tomorrow, it’s unclear whether a compromise will be able to come together on that timeline. In a statement yesterday, Speaker Pelosi and Leaders Schumer outlined the following to be included in the bill:
  • $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers, and health systems, as well as production and distribution of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • $150 billion for state and local governments for management of the crisis as well as to make up for lost revenue;
  • A 15% increase to the maximum SNAP benefit.
Additionally, Democrats have been working on a proposal that would include $150 billion for PPP but an additional $150 billion aimed at addressing those that are underbanked. The other $150 billion may be divided up into the following, (non-exhaustive) buckets: $15 billion for grants, $50 billion for disaster assistance fund, and $60 billion for CDFI/microlending/minority institutions. On a members-only call today, Speaker Pelosi indicated that Democrats will also advocate for removing barriers to voting.

Supplemental V – CARES 2.0.

Speaker Pelosi has explained to members that passing an interim supplemental focused on additional funding for PPP will not stop passing another package modeled off CARES. Speaker Pelosi continues to aim for putting the next package on the floor during the week of April 20, but it’s likely that members won’t return until at least May. However, House majority committee staff have been drafting with a sense of urgency.

Policy: As mentioned earlier, Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the next supplemental 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. A notable exception to this rule might include increased investments in broadband, as it has bipartisan appeal and may be more important in the short term – as it impacts distance learning and telemedicine – as opposed to waiting for inclusion in an economic stimulus. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats released a proposal to provide “essential worker” premium pay and recruitment incentives. While the proposal is meant to start debate on the issue, some form of hazard pay could make it into the final bill.

Other provisions could include:
  • Additional funding for health infrastructure, community health centers, and hospitals;
  • Additional loan assistance to small (and possibly mid-sized) businesses – there is a growing sense that there might be appetite to improve/expand/refine the program;
  • Expansion and increased length of unemployment benefits;
  • Additional direct payments to individuals and families;
  • Additional money for states and local governments to help offset revenue losses;
  • Additional funding and support for D.C.;
  • Hazard pay for:
    • 1) federal workers (25% pay increase during duration of crisis),
    • 2) other public sector workers (nurses/doctors, city/state employees, ambulance drivers etc.),
    • 3) private sector workers (grocery store workers, “essential” workers, healthcare workers in private settings).
  • Additional student loan relief;
  • Increases in SNAP/nutrition assistance;
  • $100 billion for rental assistance, ban evictions for renters, funding for housing homeless populations in hotels/motels (House Financial Services memo on potential provisions here);
  • Additional funds for election assistance and vote-by-mail infrastructure/implementation;
  • Additional oversight mechanisms and requirements;
  • Requirement of the appointment of a military czar to handle production/distribution of critical medical equipment;
  • Additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service;
  • Other actions to rescue distressed industries;
  • Retroactive repeal of the $10,000 SALT cap for tax years 2018 and 2019;
  • Additional health policy provisions (open enrollment for the ACA);
  • Additional investments in broadband. 
Supplemental VI – Economic Stimulus

Leadership in both the House and Senate have recognized that an economic stimulus package will be necessary at some point, but there is still significant disagreement on timing, scope, and size. House Democrats have been driving the process, as committees have already begun soliciting input from members and drafting legislative text. Additionally, most of what may be included in the bill has already been crafted. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the Moving Forward Framework Democrats released in January will serve as the base of the infrastructure piece of whatever bill Democrats introduce. Additionally, the LIFT Act, which covers the infrastructure pieces of the E&C jurisdiction, was released last May and is already in bill form. WRDA could also be included. Additionally, there is an attitude among Democrats to create a package that goes beyond traditional infrastructure and addresses climate change.

Passed Legislation

Supplemental III – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

After a unanimous vote by the Senate, the House passed the bill on March 27 and the President signed the bill into law shortly after. Final text here. Democratic summary here. Republican section by section here.

New information and guidance:
  • Treasury FAQ on the Paycheck Protection Program here – dated April 8.
  • Seema Verma appeared at the President’s nightly COVID press conference. She said that $30 billion of the $100 billion for hospitals will be released this week, based on an individual hospitals’ Medicare revenue. She suggested there will be a simple direct deposit to the hospital. If the hospital is not set up to receive a direct deposit, there will be a simple registration process. It will not be first come first serve. She went on to say the second tranche of money would go to providers who were excluded in the first go-around because they have no Medicare revenue.
  • Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
Title I – Small Business Loans
  • The Treasury Department has released affiliation guidelines for the small business loan program. 
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule last week on the small business provisions in the bill. Applications opened on Friday for eligible entities (other than independent contractors and the self-employed). With such high demand, it’s likely that funding will be exhausted within the next few days. See here for a memo Cornerstone put together on the interim final rule.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here
    • Borrower information here
    • Borrower application here
    • April 8 FAQ here
Title II – Individual and Business Tax Relief
  • IRS has indicated that the earliest Americans could receive relief payments from CARES is next week. Those who will receive their relief through paper checks could take as long at 20 weeks to receive payment.
  • IRS’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here.
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Senate Finance Committee FAQ on the Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • House Ways and Means FAQ on Rebates here
  • House Ways and Means FAQ on Unemployment Compensation here
Title III – Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • Factsheet on accelerated and advance payments for providers/suppliers here
  • House Energy and Commerce Republican Factsheet on relief for hospitals here
Title IV – Economic Stabilization
  • The Treasury Department released guidance on payroll support to airline industry employees, and on loans to the airline industry and businesses critical to national security. Guidance for payroll support here. Guidance on procedures and minimum requirements for loans here. Treasury press release here.
  • Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
Division B – Appropriations
  • Last week the FCC announced a two-part, $200 million COVID-19 telehealth program. The press release may be found here; and the FCC order approved on Wednesday can be found here.
  • House Appropriations overview for local governments/nonprofits here
Oversight
  • Speaker Pelosi announced the creation of a House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which will be focused on oversight of how the funds appropriated in CARES and other supplementals is spent. Majority Whip Clyburn will chair the committee. Other members of the committee have yet to be announced.
  • Leader Schumer announced on Monday that he will appoint Bharat Ramamurti to the Congressional Oversight Commission. The Commission was created by CARES to oversee implementation of the economic relief provisions in the bill. Ramamurti was the Deputy Policy Director for Economic Policy on the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Implementation Timeline – see below for a DRAFT outline of implementation dates
  • 4/1 – DOL implements paid leave provisions
  • 4/1 – DOT shall publish streamlined procedures for air carriers to apply for grants for Air Carrier Worker Support (Sec. 4113)
  • 4/3 – SBA Paycheck Protection Program opens for applications to all eligible entities (other than independent contractors and the self-employed)
  • 4/6 – DOT shall publish applications procedures for loans for businesses, states, and municipalities, including air carriers (Sec. 4003)
  • 4/10 – SBA Paycheck Protection Program opens for application for independent contractors and self-employed
  • 4/11 – Treasury must submit by this date, a report to both Appropriations Committees with a plan on how appropriations (+$579M) will be used to implement payments
  • 4/13 – Treasury issue guidance on Coronavirus Relief Fund ($150B to States/Tribes/local governments)
  • 4/13 – IRS payments begin this week for individuals with direct deposit
  • 4/26 – HUD Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) releases first tranche ($2B) based on normal formula allocated within 30 days
  • 4/26 – HUD CDBG releases first tranche ($2B) based on normal formula within 30 days
  • 4/26 – Education Department will issue notice to invite applicants to Governor’s Emergency Funds. Secretary will approve or deny no later than 30 days after receipt (deadline fluctuates)
  • 4/26 – Education Department will issue notice to invite applicants to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds. Secretary will approve or deny no later than 30 days after receipt (deadline fluctuates)
  • 4/26 – Election Security Grants must be issued to states 
No specific statutory deadline for implementation
  • HUD CDBG releases third tranche ($2B) based on a need-based formula
  • Congressional Oversight Commission publishes first report no later than 30 days after the first exercise of authority by Treasury/Federal Reserve
  • No deadline written for institutional aid for higher education institutions
  • Indian Health Service ($1.03B) has no statutory deadline to get funds out, but IHS is consulting with Tribes and UIOs now and seems to already have a plan.
  • Defense Production Act DOD provisions ($1B)
    • Funds are available upon enactment until expended.
    • Waives for two years requirement for congressional approval for projects in excess of $50 million and another provision requiring the return of unobligated funds in excess of $750 million to Treasury.
    • Waives for one year from date of enactment provisions requiring a 30-day delay in projects over $50 million.
    • All other funds expire Sept. 30, 2020.
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)

The Senate passed the House bill on March 18 and the President signed the bill into law that evening. Bill text here. Factsheet here. Bill section by section here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here.

Implementation: The IRS clarified that the payroll tax credits provided under FFCRA to businesses with 500 or fewer employees will be based on the paid leave provided to employees from 4/1/2020 – 12/31/2020.

Supplemental I –Coronavirus Supplemental

Signed by the President March 6. Text here, summary here.

Congress

Session: House is in a pro forma session until April 20. D.C. is currently under a shelter-in-place order, and Maryland and Virginia have similar orders in place. In a Dear Colleague last week, Speaker Pelosi advised members to keep their schedule flexible and said that, in order to make up for lost time, the House may meet during weeks previously scheduled as District Work Periods. The Senate is in recess until April 20.

Appropriations: As of right now, the appropriations markup schedule is unchanged. Reports have indicated that it will likely be delayed, however. Most House bills have subcommittee markup dates the weeks of April 21 and April 28, while the Senate has not yet set its markup dates. This year’s NDAA markup has been “indefinitely postponed”. Reps. Adam Smith and Thornberry (HASC Chair and RM) sent a letter to the committee members saying that they will schedule the date of the markup once the House schedule for the next few months becomes clear.

Remote voting: Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell have both voiced opposition to members’ voting remotely, but as the pandemic makes travel more treacherous, in-person voting has become more difficult. Remote voting is being discussed to some extent in both chambers. The House Committee on Rules Majority released a staff report on voting options. The report discusses unanimous consent, proxy voting, as well as the logistics (and security concerns) of remote voting. Additionally, the House Sergeant at Arms and the Attending Physician released guidance for voting in-person, including procedures for voting in shifts for roll call votes. Leader McConnell, as of right now, is not supportive of any form of remote voting. 

Other Floor Action: The House issued guidance earlier this week indicated that Floor materials are to be submitted through a secure email address instead of dropped off at the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms. Members are still allowed to drop off materials in person. Speaker’s Dear Colleague on the guidance here

Hearings and Meetings: While most hearings and markups for the next week or so have been cancelled, some committee staff are working to see whether holding hearings virtually is possible. The Senate Rules Committee Democrats released a one-pager guidance on “paper hearings”, which stated “paper hearings” are not official hearings. The guidance also pointed out that committees must vote in-person to report legislation or nominations. The Senate Sergeant at Arms is exploring technology that would allow for remote hearings, though Leader McConnell remains opposed to any form of remote voting. The House Administration Committee is working on a report on best tools to be able to do virtual meetings.

Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)

Tested Positive (2): Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

Recovered (4): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (9): Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Completed Quarantine (34): 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)

Other Federal Actions
  • The CDC released interim guidance yesterday that details how essential employees can go back to work even if they have been exposed to people infected by COVID-19 as long as they do not feel sick and follow certain precautions. Per the guidance, employees can return to work if they take their temperature before heading to their workplaces, wear a face mask at all times, and practice social distancing while on the job.
  • The CDC removed guidance for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs recommended by President Donald Trump to treat COVID-19 that lack evidence to support their efficacy.
  • HHS announced the first contract for ventilator production rated under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to General Motors (GM). GM’s contract, at a total contract price of $489.4 million, is for 30,000 ventilators to be delivered to the SNS by the end of August, with a production schedule allowing for the delivery of 6,132 ventilators by June 1st.
  • Soon after, HHS announced the second contract for ventilator production rated under the DPA to Philips. Philips’s contract for $646.7 million is for a production schedule allowing for the delivery of 2,500 ventilators to the SNS by the end of May, and a total of 43,000 ventilators to be delivered by the end of December. 
  • Yesterday, HHS and HRSA awarded more than $1.3 billion to 1,387 health centers to combat COVID-19. HRSA-funded health centers may use the awards to help communities across the country detect, prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19, and maintain or increase health capacity and staffing levels to address this public health emergency.
  • To cap off a busy day for HHS, the department announced an agreement with DuPont to expedite the delivery of critical PPE for frontline U.S. health care workers. DuPont will deliver 450,000 TYVEK® suits to the U.S. from its Hanoi, Vietnam manufacturing facility this week. Through an existing government transportation contract, FedEx will transport the TYVEK suits from Vietnam to the SNS, which will work with public health authorities in states, territories, tribal nations, and certain cities, and with industry partners to ensure the TYVEK suits reach the health care facilities and workers most in need.
  • Indian Health Service (IHS) announced its expansion of telehealth across IHS federal facilities to limit the number of individuals in waiting rooms and emergency departments, and to help people receive treatment from the safety of their own homes.
  • The FDA issued a warning letter to a seller that markets fraudulent and dangerous chlorine dioxide products known as “Miracle Mineral Solution” for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The FDA has previously warned consumers not to purchase or drink chlorine dioxide products sold online as medical treatments, as the agency is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting their safety or effectiveness and they pose significant risks to patient health.
  • CMS issued a series of updated guidance documents focused on infection control to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a variety of inpatient and outpatient care settings. The guidance, based on CDC guidelines, will help ensure infection control in the context of patient triage, screening and treatment, the use of alternate testing and treatment sites and telehealth, drive-through screenings, limiting visitations, cleaning and disinfection guidelines, staffing, and more.
  • BARDA has expanded an existing partnership with Genentech, part of Roche Group, to accelerate a Phase 3 clinical trial of Actemra® (tocilizumab) as a potential treatment of patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Currently, Actemra® is approved by the FDA and in more than 100 countries to treat rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 395,011  travel-related: 1,864 “close contact”: 8,203 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The CDC is reporting 12,754 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • Per an executive order from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, all workers at essential businesses must also wear a mask and could face a fine or prison if they don't comply starting midnight on Friday. Business owners will have to provide the masks or reimburse employees for their own.
  • According to officials in Washington state, at least 137 long-term-care facilities in the state have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 221 deaths have been linked to them. The data shows that nearly one out of seven nursing homes or assisted-living facilities have been hit by the pandemic.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a two-week delay in the congressional primary elections scheduled for early June. He said he would ask the General Assembly to postpone May’s local and special elections until November.
  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said adults traveling through Salt Lake City International Airport or driving into the state will have to sign a travel declaration and will be asked to list where else they have traveled. Road travelers will get a text alert when entering the state and asked to fill out a form on a state website.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser removed golf and tennis from the list of allowable recreational activities under her “stay-at-home” order. She also ordered the closure of farmers and fish markets until they demonstrate to the D.C. government that they have a plan for enforcing social distancing.
  • After announcing that the state would buy 200 million masks per month from factories in Asia, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said today that his state will spend $1.4 billion on PPE for medical personnel, supermarket workers, employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles and any other “front-line employees walking the streets.” California will be contracting with a company to sterilize 80,000 N95 masks daily, which can each be used about 20 times before being discarded.
  • An additional 779 people died over the last 24 hours in New York, bringing the state’s death toll to nearly 6,300. New Jersey also saw an increase, hitting 275 deaths in one day. The two states together now have more COVID-19 deaths than the rest of the country combined. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that the death toll could continue to rise even as hospitalization rates go down because it reflects individuals who have been on ventilators for a longer period of time.
  • Some New York hospitals and state health leaders have drawn up guidelines for which patients get ventilators should hospitals run short. One health system plans to give ventilators first to patients most likely to survive using a scoring system created by New York state in 2015, which categorizes patients’ short-term survival rate based on criteria that include the functioning of major vital organs.
  • 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
  • Wuhan, China, the city in which the pandemic started, lifted its lockdown today, allowing 11 million residents to leave the city without special authorization for the first time in more than 10 weeks.
  • Beginning tomorrow at noon, Saudi Arabia will observe a cease-fire in the war in Yemen. This is the first time so far that a government dealing with an international armed conflict has opted to halt hostilities at least in part because of COVID-19. As many as 150 members of the Saudi royal family are believed to have contracted the illness.
  • Authorities in Greenland have confirmed that all 11 residents who tested positive for coronavirus are now in recovery. In recent weeks the government has banned gatherings of more than 10 people, grounded most transport and closed all borders to non-Danes. The sale of alcohol in the capital, Nuuk, has also been barred in an effort to reduce domestic violence during the lockdown.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who remains in intensive care, is said to be stable and responding to treatment. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is carrying out the prime minister's duties full-time now.
  • The Nightingale, an emergency hospital that was built in less than two weeks at a London conference center, received its first patients yesterday. It will be able to provide ventilation treatment to more than 2,800 patients.
  • The Greg Mortimer, an Australian ship off the coast of Uruguay, has been at sea since March 15th. It originally set sail for Antarctica and South Georgia with 217 people onboard, 60 percent of whom are now infected with COVID-19.
  • Ecuador has one of the highest official rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, per capita, in Latin America. The death count mounted to 220 yesterday, with 182 other cases listed as “probable” but unconfirmed. The country’s president, Lenín Moreno, has acknowledged that the real figure is likely much higher, but that testing is limited so the true extent of infections is impossible to determine.
  • Global Cases:  1,353,361               Total Deaths:  79,235
Lifestyle and Economy
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is predicting a severe decline in international commerce this year. A decline of 13 percent in trade in goods is described in the report as a relatively optimistic scenario. It reflects a steep drop in trade followed by a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.
  • The S&P 500 rallied today, gaining an additional 3 percent. It how not gone up by 23 percent from its low point back in March.
  • According to the New York Times, Chicago’s Cook County Jail is now the largest-known source of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. At least 353 cases (238 inmates and 115 staff) can be linked to the jail — more than have been connected to the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, or the cluster centered in New Rochelle, New York.
  • The United Food and Commercia Workers International Union (UFCW) sent a letter to CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield asking the agency to write mandatory guidelines to limit the number of consumers who enter at any given time, allow employees to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes, and ensure that employees wear masks and gloves while on the job.
  • Group homes for individuals with special needs have experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, 1,100 residents with developmental disabilities in New York have tested positive for COVID-19, and 105 have died.
  • The National Academy of Sciences responded to a request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with a public report that states the pandemic is likely to die off with warmer weather. The report cites lab studies that yielded relatively inconclusive results about whether or not heat and humidity impact the virus’s survival.
  • Instagram has been flooded with “dubious” accounts selling face masks with no proven health effects. Researchers say there have been nearly 10,500 such accounts created in the last four months.  
  • The American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Academy of Medicine is hosting 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, as well as a link to webinar 3 on April 9th at 12:30 pm.
  • 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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