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COVID-19 Update
April 22, 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 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 and on YouTube.
 
Yesterday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was notified of 482 additional positive cases for a total of 3,641 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,313 negative tests for a total of 23,974 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 157 of today’s 482 new positive cases are part of surveillance testing for meat processing facilities. Of those new positives: 100 were Tyson employees and 57 were National Beef employees. 
 
According to IDPH, an additional 4 deaths were also reported, 214 are currently hospitalized, and 1,293 Iowans have recovered. 
 
The state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state is now providing demographic information that was not previously provided as well as Iowa’s epidemiological curve. 
 
Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds said Iowa has suffered from a lack of testing supplies during the crisis and announced a new testing initiative called Test Iowa.

Through a partnership with Nomi Health and Silicon Slopes, the State of Iowa will make available 3,000 additional COVID-19 tests per day (on top of other available testing capacity) for up to 540,000 tests, and an online assessment to help gather information about COVID-19 in Iowa. The state will implement drive through testing at sites across the state with test results coming back between 48-72 hours. Iowa is only the second state, behind Utah, to implement this model.

An initial website assessment, found at testiowa.com, will help determine whether you should be tested and where hotspots might be. The assessment asks about existing symptoms and occupational considerations. All Iowans are being asked to take the quick online assessment.

If after getting tested, you do test positive then IDPH will do contact tracing. She said the assessment is an important part of the process, because it will be critical to help understand the virus in the state, and identify hotspots. The Governor explained that this data will also help give data about how and when to reopen the economy.

The Governor announced the program at her 11:00 press conference and by yesterday afternoon, she tweeted there had already been 25,000 assessments of Iowans completed. If you are an Iowan go to www.TestIowa.com and complete your assessment today.

The information submitted to the state into the Qualtrics assessment will be protected and secure, she said. The state owns the information, and it is only reviewed by IDPH.

The first Test Iowa drive-through testing location will open on Saturday at the Iowa Event Center in Des Moines. There will be drive-through testing sites set up across the state. There is no cost for testing. The state will also be setting up at Tama at a long-term care facility. They are looking for hotspots, and they will also put first responders at the front of the line to get tested, then highly symptomatic people, finally non-symptomatic people, the Governor explained.

Federal Actions:
  • The Senate passed more than $480 billion in interim emergency relief yesterday afternoon. The legislation includes $310 billion to replenish the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses ($50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion for the Emergency Economic Injury Grant program), $75 billion in emergency funds for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as Thursday.
  • President Trump announced that he would be ordering a temporary ban on immigration to the U.S. He has backed down from his original plan to also suspend guest worker programs. The order will be in place for 60 days, with the potential to be extended longer if deemed necessary.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a letter to chairs of the House Administration and Rules Committees urging them to consider a set of recommendations to enable remote voting and committee work, and that also prepare Congress to work remotely even when back in Washington to comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • CMS, the ONC, and HHS announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the interoperability final rules announced back on March 9th in response to COVID-19. The agencies involved will continue to monitor the implementation landscape to determine if further action is needed.     
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced today that an additional $6.2 billion is now available to higher education institutions through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund in the CARES Act. The CARES Act allows institutions to use up to one half of the total funds received to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to COVID-19. In order to access the funds, higher education institutions must submit a Certification and Agreement for Recipient Institutional Costs, which can be found here. Institutions must also have executed the Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students before submitting the second certification and agreement.
  • FDA published an update about how it has been providing flexibility to the food industry to support the food supply chain to meet consumer demand.
  • The FDA today authorized the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19. Specifically, the FDA re-issued the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to permit testing of samples self-collected by patients at home using LabCorp’s Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit.
  • USDA announced the approval of requests from Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas to provide online purchasing of food to SNAP recipients. The approval allows the states to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time.
  • Rick Bright has stepped down as director of BARDA to lead the recently-announced NIH initiative aimed at speeding up COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options. The NIH program will provide guidance to drug makers and federal agencies about which vaccine and treatment candidates seem most promising and how to test them quickly.
  • The CDC continues to update and add resources on its dashboard, such as guidance for child care programs that remain open, a checklist for institutes of higher education, and CDC’s role in helping cruise ship travelers during the pandemic.
  • No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The Army said nearly 250 enlisted and officers have requested to withdraw their retirements or resignations as the service offers voluntary extensions to service contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A study across VA hospitals nationwide found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Twenty-eight percent of patients who received the drug died, compared with 11 percent of patients who received standard care.
    • The fatality rate among VA patients who contract the virus – 6.5 percent – continues to be higher than the general public – 5 percent.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 776,093 and 41,758 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • The Wisconsin legislature submitted a petition calling on the state's Supreme Court to temporarily block enforcement of Gov. Tony Evers's (D) stay-at-home order after he extended the directive through May 26th
  • Puerto Rico has performed an average of 15 tests a day for every 100,000 people, which is a lower rate than any state in the U.S. and more than 10 times less comprehensive than the testing effort in New York.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) met with President Trump today at the White House to talk about additional federal assistance to expand testing and support state and local governments.
  • Reopening Updates:
    • Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia (R) is being criticized by health experts and some business owners for his decision to reopen parts of the state’s economy later this week. The main argument is that reopening too much too soon will lead to a second wave of COVID-19.
    • Alaska’s stay-at-home order expired today.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has said that she is planning a phased-in reopening when their stay-at-home order expires April 30th. It will be tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of the state.
    • North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) plans to partially reopen the state on May 1st
    • Starting May 8th, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has said he plans to ease restrictions starting with construction, curbside alcohol pickup, and vehicle sales.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has said that "the vast majority of businesses" will be allowed to re-open on May 1st.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will start to allow elective treatments in hospitals in parts of the state that have fewer cases of COVID-19.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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.
    • 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
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said today that the country was likely to begin easing lockdown measures starting May 4th. Officials in the south, where there is a higher concentration of poor individuals, fear that easing travel restrictions will expose their region. Before COVID-19, unemployment in southern Italy was already at 18 percent.
  • According to a report by the World Food Program, the number of people facing acute hunger this year could likely double as a result of COVID-19. About 265 million people in low- and middle-income nations could face starvation by the end of 2020, a doubling of the 135 million who already faced acute food insecurity in 2019.
  • Ecuador’s inability to test and track people coming to the country from Europe is perceived to be what has caused the biggest hotspot in Latin America. It took the country 13 days to diagnose Patient 0 with COVID-19. Meanwhile, she infected at least 17 other people. Ecuadorian health officials also assume that the lack of testing means the official figure of 520 deaths is much higher in reality.
  • Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on Tuesday that trials of a coronavirus vaccine will begin on people this week. The government has given $24.5 million to an Oxford University team to accelerate its work and is funding vaccine development at Imperial College London.
  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said public gatherings, including the professional soccer league’s games, are canceled in the Netherlands until September 1st, but elementary students will be able to return to school next month, attending on alternating days.
  • The last three cruise ships still sailing with passengers returned to port this week, releasing the thousands onboard into a new reality of a world under lockdown where economies have plunged into recession and social distancing is the norm. The three ships — MSC Magnifica (disembarked in Marseille, France), Pacific Princess (disembarked in Los Angeles), and Costa Deliziosa (disembarked in Genoa, Italy) — all embarked on their journeys before the pandemic.
  • At least 150 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at a hotel being used to temporarily host migrants in Greece.
  • Singapore has extended its lockdown until June 1st.
  • President Joko Widodo of Indonesia announced that he will ban millions from returning to their home villages next month for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, known as Idul Fitri. The holiday marks the end of fasting for the month of Ramadan.
    • Pakistan is urging mosques to obey social distancing rules ahead of Ramadan’s start on Thursday.
  • Global Cases:  2,397,216               Total Deaths:  162,956
Lifestyle and Economy
  • A data breach in the Small Business Association‘s (SBA) online application portal may have compromised personal information for nearly 8,000 businesses seeking emergency loans last month, the agency said today. SBA said it discovered on March 25th that the application system for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) may have disclosed personal information to other applicants of the program — including Social Security numbers, income amounts, names, addresses and contact information.
  • The historic bust in the oil market worsened today as traders were afraid crude oil output was still way too high without enough storage space.
  • A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against doctors using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities. The NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines states in the Therapeutic Options Under Investigation section that, “There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.”
  • Germany’s Oktoberfest and Spain’s Running of the Bulls both officially canceled today. Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich generated $1.33 billion for the city last year. This is the first time in 210 years it has been called off.
  • Roughly 33,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay reduced. Some publications that rely on ads have shut down. The New York Times is tracking media layoffs.
  • Americans can track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank account information to get their money faster via direct deposit on a new IRS website.
  • 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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