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COVID-19 Update
May 15, 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

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 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.

Iowa Update

Governor Kim 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.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Thursday released news statistics on COVID-19 in the state. IDPH reported 386 new positive COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths. That brings the statewide total to 13,675 positive cases and 318 deaths. IDPH reported 89,294 Iowans have been tested for the virus, while 6,231 have recovered. There are currently 405 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19, while 134 patients are listed in intensive care. IDPH reported 42 patients admitted in the last 24 hours. There are currently 93 patients on ventilators. IDPH reported 3,510 inpatient beds available in the state, with 437 ICU beds available. There are 705 ventilators available. There are now outbreaks in 35 of Iowa’s long-term care facilities—two up from Wednesday’s total.

Yesterday, Governor Kim Reynolds, House Speaker Pat Grassley, and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver announced their request for the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) to convene a meeting prior to the Legislature reconvening on June 3, to take into account new information since the last REC met two months ago. The REC estimate of state revenues will be used to assist the Legislature in the creation of a fiscal year 2021 budget, and will reflect some of the economic impact of COVID-19 on state revenue streams.

Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds reported that Test Iowa validation through the state hygienic lab has been completed. The tests have 95 percent accuracy for determining positives and 99.7 percent accuracy for determining negatives. Over 400,000 assessments and more than 4,300 have been tested through Test Iowa. Parameters to qualify for a test have been opened up because the test has been validated, Governor Reynolds said. Now that the State Hygienic Lab has completed the validation process, more tests will be delivered more quickly. They’re now focused on process improvements. Her administration is also standing up a dedicated Test Iowa call center to resolve patient questions in a timely manner.

Despite aggressive mitigation measures taken by the state, currently outbreaks are confirmed in 35 of the 444 long term care facilities (7.8 percent) and 57 percent of deaths have been to residents of long term care facilities, the Governor said. The state continues to focus on testing of staff and residents. In total, more than 26,000 tests have been deployed to long term care facilities across the state. Right now they have tested at 95 percent of the long term care facilities.

IDPH Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter spoke about what happens when an outbreak occurs in a long term care facility. Once a case is identified, IDPH works with the facility to go through a check list of measures a facility needs to take to contain the virus.

IEDA's COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, Round 2 is Now Open

IEDA would like to invite you once again to help Iowa’s economic recovery and growth by completing a NEW survey developed by the University of Northern Iowa's (UNI) Institute for Decision Making and Strategic Marketing Services.

This is a follow-up to the survey of businesses/organizations released mid-March. Your participation is again vital to state efforts to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Iowa businesses and organizations. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) will use survey results to inform public policy on recovery and growth, including potential resources for businesses and organizations. IEDA's initial survey gathered nearly 14,000 responses from businesses across Iowa.

Please, follow this link to complete the survey. IEDA estimates the survey will take 8 to 14 minutes to complete (depending upon your industry sector). The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, May 22 at 5:00 pm.

Federal Actions
  • HHS and AHRQ announced a new funding opportunity that will award $5 million in fiscal year 2020 to support novel, high-impact studies that evaluate the responsiveness of health care delivery systems, health care professionals, and the overall U.S. health care system to the COVID-19 pandemic. AHRQ expects to invest the $5 million for new multi-method, rapid-cycle research with the ability to produce and disseminate initial observations within six months after the initial award, and then regularly throughout the remainder of the award period.
  • The CDC issued an official Health Advisory today about the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. The alert provides background information and a case definition. 
  • The CDC continues to update and publish additional COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Today, the CDC published updated information about schools and child care programs, people who need to take extra precautions, resources for community and faith-based organizations, and federal resources for COVID-19 contact tracing staffing (among other resources). 
  • The CDC also updated this resource, which shows how the predictions of total deaths from COVID-19 have changed over time.
  • The NIH has begun a clinical trial to evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine, combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent COVID-19 hospitalization and death.
  • COVID-19 hearings in Congress this week and next (memos available upon request):
  • The FDA put out a press release officially alerting the public to early data that suggest potential inaccurate results from using the Abbott ID NOW point-of-care test to diagnose COVID-19. Specifically, the test may return false negative results.
  • Tomorrow at 1 PM, the FDA will host a virtual Town Hall for researchers, clinical laboratories, and commercial manufacturers to discuss the production and use of 3D printed swabs. This is a collaboration between the FDA, the VA Innovation Ecosystem, and the NIH 3D Print Exchange. 
  • The FDA also announced they will host a virtual Town Hall on May 20th at 12:15 PM for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers to help answer questions about the updated COVID-19 diagnostics policy. 
  • In light of the continued economic hardships associated with COVID-19, the FHA announced an extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through June 30th for homeowners with FHA-insured Single Family mortgages, while also supporting new FHA-insured mortgage originations through an extension of temporary policy flexibilities for lenders and appraisers. 
  • CMS is announcing a call for nominations for the new contractor-led Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes to help inform immediate and future responses to COVID-19 within these facilities. The Commission will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and will inform immediate and future actions to address the virus in order to safeguard the health and quality of life for an especially vulnerable population of Americans.
  • Every day, the USDA is announcing more investments into state broadband and state SNAP programs to support both online schooling and nutrition needs of families across the U.S. 
  • A new order under review by several government agencies would extend the Administration's COVID-19 border restrictions indefinitely. 
  • The Trump Administration is reportedly laying out new plans to expand the Strategic National Stockpile after it ran out of critical medical supplies early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. The plans include ensuring a 90-day supply of testing supplies and essential drugs to serve as a buffer while the U.S. increases manufacturing capacity. 
  • The House is set to vote today on the Democrats' 1,815-page, $3 trillion HEROES Act (H.R. 6800). Yesterday, the White House released a message stating that, in its current form, President Trump would veto the legislation. The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here, and the Manager's Amendment is linked here. A one pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,384,930 total cases and 83,947 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced his May Revision Budget Proposal to the California legislature.
    • The severe cuts made in Gov. Newsom's budget proposal are not unique. Georgia and Ohio, among others, are also proposing significant cuts in order to meet balanced-budget laws this month. Vermont is the only state that does not have a balanced-budget law in place.
  • A Texas appeals court upheld a temporary order stating that susceptibility to COVID-19 counts as a disability under state election law and is a legally valid reason for voters to request absentee ballots. 
  • Updates on lockdowns/reopening:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that New Mexico’s emergency public health order, set to expire May 15th, will be extended through May 31st and modified to allow most retailers to operate at 25 percent of their maximum occupancy as determined by fire code.
    • Gov. Tim Walz (D) will replace Minnesota's Stay Home EO, set to expire on May 18th, with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less. The Gov. will also open retail stores and other main street businesses if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced 12 more counties are now eligible to resume elective surgeries, bringing the total to 47 counties.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) has announced that updated public health orders, effective May 15th, will ease restrictions on several business categories and permit restaurants to resume indoor table service statewide.
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed an EO today which allows non-essential state employees to return to work, allows some elective surgeries to resume, lets swimming pools reopen with specific hours, and sets an end date for the suspension of evictions. 
  • 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
  • WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan said at yesterday's daily briefing, “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away. I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear.” 
  • Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are all reporting a daily increase of 50 new cases per million people. As these are relatively small countries, the daily incidence is very high relative to their total population.
  • yesterday, France announced that it will implement a total of €18 billion (U.S. $19.4 billion) in economic relief measures to the country’s tourism industry.
  • The UN urged governments and health authorities to address the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in a policy brief published yesterday. The report advises that emergency psychosocial support should become more widely available, including remote mental health care, as well as prioritizing the protection of human rights for people with severe mental health conditions.
  • The Philippines, about to begin its typhoon season, is facing major logistical and financial constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippines averages 20 typhoons a year, which cause large evacuations and overcrowding of emergency shelters, and could increase the spread of COVID-19.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will lift its state of emergency in all but eight locations. Residents in cities including Tokyo and Osaka are still being asked to practice social distancing.
  • The WHO announced the launch of two COVID-19 apps for healthcare workers and the general public. The WHO Academy app provides healthcare workers with COVID-19 information and resources, while the WHO Info app provides the general public access to information and details on WHO COVID-19 efforts.
  • France, Spain, and Sweden have recently published data from large surveys to estimate the scope of their national COVID-19 pandemics. The two serological studies from Spain and France indicate that there could potentially be 10-20 undetected infections for every known case.
  • Global Cases:  4,444,670        Total Deaths:  302,493
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • An additional 3 million people filed unemployment claims in the last week, according to the most recent data from the Department of Labor. The two-month total is now up to 36.5 million. 
  • According to the Federal Reserve's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019, Featuring Supplemental Data from April 2020," 39 percent of people working in February with a household income below $40,000 reported a job loss in March. 
  • Neurologists in New York City, Detroit, New Jersey, and in other parts of the country have reported a flurry of unexplained strokes which they believe could be another manifestation of COVID-19 in young people. Though rare, the strokes can have catastrophic consequences, such as cognitive impairment, physical disability, and death. 
  • Tesla has reached an agreement with California officials to let the company’s plant reopen on May 18th. The company warned that workers who choose to stay home could lose benefits.
  • Amazon has said they will extend hourly wage increases and double overtime pay for warehouse workers until May 31st. 
  • Wells Fargo has asked employees to work from home through at least June 30th. 
  • Broadway announced that "Frozen" will not reopen after the pandemic, making it the first musical to be officially ended by COVID-19. 
  • Continue to check out 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.


Jessica Hyland, J.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Biotechnology Association
Cell: (515) 822-1315
Office: (515) 327-9156
Fax: (515) 327-1407
Copyright © 2020 Iowa Biotechnology Association, All rights reserved.

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