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COVID-19 Update
May 20, 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 Reynolds will hold a press conference today from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Johnston, IA at 11:00 a.m. to provide an update to the state of Iowa on COVID-19. That press conference will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page

Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 15,501 Iowans have tested positive, up 295 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 110,198 Iowans tested.  13 more deaths were reported since our update yesterday, bringing the total to 380 deaths.  Only one death was reported on May 19, which is the lowest number of deaths reported since the beginning of April. Now 8,207 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds highlighted the dashboard with daily information uploaded to the state’s website. She said case counts are shown by day and over time, overall and by county. While the numbers of Iowans testing positive are trending down the number of negatives are trending up, and the number of those tested is going up. They have revised the long term care dashboard with much more specific information by facility and additional charts. She announced yesterday data will be uploaded in real time to the site as it comes in, rather than reported at a specific time each day. This is now reflected in our newsletter, as stats will be updated each morning before this update goes out.

Finally, the state has included a new section on serology testing. More than 12,000 have had a serology test, which uses a blood sample to show antibodies to the virus; However, serology testing has not been widely available to Iowans. The State Hygienic Lab has now made the test available for individual patients, the Governor said. The platform is an Abbot test assay that detects type IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Other labs may also run these tests. Dr. Pedati, State Epidemiologist, said eligible patients must be at least seven days since symptom onset. Priority will be given to essential workers and those who want to be plasma donors. These test results are mandatorily reported to the state. IDPH wants to trace the virus activity through serology tests and track whether these individuals contract the virus again. Currently Iowa’s percent positive rate is 13 percent of those who have received a serology test. Although it is not yet understood for certain what the antibodies mean or how long they last, it can still inform the state about virus activity.

Director Kelly Garcia Iowa Department of Human Services spoke about childcare. They have developed updated guidance for childcare providers, as centers reopen. They are providing financial support to centers that must close to disinfect, due to COVID-19.

The National Guard Title 32 program that has allowed National Guard resources to be used for helping with PPE delivery and Test Iowa assistance. Governor Reynolds will be asking to extend the use of the program into July.

Governor Reynolds said she will be making additional announcements as her remaining orders for social distancing and business closures come closer to an end. Her most recent proclamation expires May 27.

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 officially announced its partnership with Phlow Corporation of Richmond, Virginia, to expand pharmaceutical manufacturing in the U.S. for use in producing medicines needed during the COVID-19 response and future public health emergencies. The Phlow-led team will provide immediate, U.S.-based capacity to produce the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and the chemical compounds for those ingredients to make critical medicines to help alleviate or prevent drug shortages, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The NIH announced a multipronged study to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during and after pregnancy. Researchers will analyze the medical records of up to 21,000 women to evaluate whether changes to healthcare delivery that were implemented as a result of the pandemic have led to higher rates of pregnancy-related complications and cesarean delivery. They also seek to establish the risk of pregnant women with COVID-19 infection transmitting the virus to their fetus. Newborns will be monitored and assessed until they are discharged from the hospital.
  • The FDA will host a virtual Town Hall today at 12:15 PM for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers to help answer questions about the updated COVID-19 diagnostics policy. 
  • The FDA has entered into an agreement with Aetion to collaborate on advanced analytical techniques to answer urgent COVID-19 research questions. The FDA and Aetion aim to answer questions about the use of diagnostics and medications in the pandemic, and risk factors for COVID-19-related complications in different patient populations. We believe that this work has the potential to contribute to the scientific evaluation of potential diagnostics and interventions for COVID-19.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.
  • CDC is hosting live stakeholder calls to help communities plan for, respond to, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • The CDC had another busy weekend and continues to update and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Today, the CDC published new information about what workers and employers can do to manage workplace fatigue, more updated guidance for cruise ship crew member disembarkations, and additional information for pediatric healthcare providers (among other resources).  
  • There are a couple of COVID-19 hearings slated to take place in Congress this week. Memos will be available upon request:
  • President Trump has threatened to permanently revoke U.S. funding to the WHO if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days." The threat came in a letter that sharply criticizes the WHO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China.
  • The House passed the $3 trillion Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) last Friday evening (208-199). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear he would like Congress to wait and weigh the impact of the previous stimulus packages before the Senate will consider more legislation. 
  • Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said today that the Department would be extending non-essential travel restrictions at U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada for an additional 30 days to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 
  • 29 Democrats, led by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), sent a letter demanding that House Armed Services Committee leaders cut defense spending in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to keep Congress's focus on COVID-19.
  • The USS Theodore Roosevelt will return to sea later this week nearly two months after the ship was sidelined in Guam with a COVID-19 outbreak.
    • The aircraft carrier will set sail will a reduced crew of 3,000, leaving 1,800 sailors still in quarantine.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,504,830 total cases and 90,340 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the Capital Region has met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan starting tomorrow, joining six other regions of New York.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) issued new guidance to churches and other houses of worship on in-person services, while encouraging virtual services.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that his COVID-19 restrictions discriminated against places of worship by preventing them from meeting while businesses and film studios are allowed to carry on working.
  • Gov. David Inge (D) extended his Emergency Proclamation extending the 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in the State of Hawaii, as well as for inter-island travelers through June 30th. He also announced a four stage re-opening and recovery plan allowing for medium-risk businesses to re-open beginning in June – assuming the state’s COVID-19 activity remains manageable.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued guidance for resuming pet grooming operations in Phase 2 of  "Safe Start Washington" plan to re-open businesses. He additionally announced a procedure for medical services to re-open, allowing for medical and dental practices to assess their own readiness.
  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced the formation of the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative, a locally-driven approach to increase contact tracing, as part of the plan to re-open Illinois.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced today that residents can get free COVID-19 testing. Maryland residents do not have to be symptomatic to receive a test, nor will they need a doctor’s note. Gov. Hogan also issued an emergency order which authorizes pharmacists to be able to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
  • The Navajo Nation has now surpassed New Jersey and New York in terms of per-capita COVID-19 cases. The Navajo Nation has implemented a robust testing program that has reached more than 10 percent of the population already, which could be contributing to the elevated COVID-19 incidence; however, the test positivity is approximately 16 percent, which indicates that increased testing may be needed to better capture ongoing community transmission.
  • 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
  • Countries around the world have put in place a range of public health and social measures to suppress or stop community spread of COVID-19. WHO has published a document to provide an overview of public health and social measures, and to propose strategies to limit any possible harm resulting from these interventions.
  • India and Bangladesh are evacuating millions of residents in advance of Cyclone Amphan, which is currently the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. Both India and Bangladesh are exhibiting increasing COVID-19 incidence, and a major natural disaster could further increase the risk of transmission in affected areas. 
  • In the week since its schools have reopened, France has reportedly linked 70 new cases of COVID-19 to students and teachers. The French Minister of Education commented that the timeline suggests the individuals were likely infected prior to resuming classes, but this illustrates the potential risk of exposure as schools reopen.
  • Venezuela imposed new curfews in a handful of towns along its borders with Colombia and Brazil in response to a jump in COVID-19 cases which officials attributed mainly to returning migrants.
  • Brazil recorded its highest number of COVID-19 deaths (1,179) and cases (17,408) in one day. The continued increases have led U.S. President Trump to say he is considering a travel ban on Latin America, and particularly Brazil. 
  • In South Korea, health officials found that a group of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 a second time had not passed the disease on to others, suggesting that the suspected relapses were a fluke of testing rather than the re-emergence of an active infection.
  • A United Arab Emirates commercial airline flew its first publicly acknowledged direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel today, a milestone in relations between two Middle East nations with no formal diplomatic ties. The Etihad Airways flight landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport this evening carrying 14 tons of medical aid for Palestinians to help combat COVID-19.
  • Global Cases:  4,918,938        Total Deaths:  323,653
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • The Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. economy’s recovery from the negative impacts of  COVID-19 will continue through the end of next year, as investment collapses and the labor market experiences its sharpest deterioration since the 1930's. Analysts predict that GDP will probably shrink by about 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. 
  • The World Bank estimates that 60 million people world-wide are likely to fall into extreme poverty—subsisting on less than $1.90 a day—this year, while hundreds of millions more could lose their jobs. 
  • According to a recently published study, researchers estimate that approximately 4.65 percent of the Los Angeles population could have antibodies against COVID-19, which would total about 367,000 people. The study suggests that there could be potentially more than 40 unidentified infections in Los Angeles for every confirmed case. 
  • A commentary published in JAMA outlines potential barriers to acceptance for a COVID-19 vaccine. The study emphasized the importance of ensuring transparency regarding vaccine efficacy and safety, as well as engaging trusted community and cultural leaders. 
  • Universities across the country have begun mapping out if and how they will allow students back to campus in the fall. Yesterday, the University of Notre Dame said in-person classes would go ahead as planned on August 10th, but that classes will begin earlier so the semester can end by Thanksgiving. The University of South Carolina made a similar announcement, saying that courses would shift to remote learning after three months of in-person instruction in the fall. 
  • 77 education groups wrote a letter to Congress urging them to double Pell grant funds as part of the next economic relief package to help combat the economic stress of families and students brought on by COVID-19. 
  • Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • RetailDive tracks store reopenings in the U.S. 
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 Biotech Association, All rights reserved.

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