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COVID-19 Update
April 6, 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 and WHOTV.

Over the weekend, IDPH was made aware of additional cases an additional 87 cases Saturday and an 83 more on Sunday, for a total of 868 positive cases. There have been a total of 9,973 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. On Saturday an additional three deaths were reported to IDPH with 8 deaths reported Sunday.
 
The Governor’s office said more than 10% of all positive cases in Iowa are occurring among long term care staff and residents. More than 40% of all deaths in Iowa are associated with outbreaks in long-term care facilities. This statistic underscores that COVID-19 poses the most risk for older adults above the age of 60 with chronic health conditions, resulting in more severe illness and death.    
 
The Iowa Department of Public Health and public health officials continue to work closely with Iowa’s long-term care associations and facilities, providing guidance for sick residents, transferring residents in need of care to hospitals, constantly monitoring the health of other residents and staff, and implementing additional infection prevention measures. 
 
Reynolds also received word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that more than $44 million has been obligated to the State of Iowa for reimbursement of expenses related to the COVID-19 response.
 
The Governor said in her press release, FEMA’s reimbursement will allow Iowa to buy additional personal protective equipment (PPE), which has been in short supply in Iowa and in other states.
 
These funds were obligated under the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration approved for Iowa by President Trump on March 23 and will be used to reimburse the State of Iowa for costs it has incurred in March and April to implement emergency protective measures. These emergency protective measures have included the purchase of PPE such as gowns, masks, and face shields to support the response efforts of hospitals and clinics, local governments, and certain nonprofit entities.
 
The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which is responsible for coordination of disaster response resources, submitted for reimbursement to FEMA a cost of approximately $59 million for emergency protective measures taken by the State of Iowa in response to COVID-19. 
 
The Governor has not issued a shelter-in-place order despite mounting pressure and criticism from some organizations such as the Iowa Medical Society which represents physicians, the Iowa Board of medicine, and some national pundits, who cite Dr. Fauci’s recent comment to CNN that all 50 states should have a shelter in place order. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). IowaBio submitted a letter March 19 to Governor Reynolds to ask that biotech and pharma companies and their supply chains be exempted as essential businesses, should a shelter in place order be issued.

Federal Actions:
  • The CDC is now urging all Americans to wear a face covering (ideally a non-medical mask or scarf covering their mouth and nose) when they leave their homes. They have published a Q&A page for cloth face coverings and have updated the prevention page to include guidance on the use of cloth face coverings as a means to mitigate spread of COVID-19.
  • The CDC has started publishing “COVIDView,” a weekly surveillance summary of U.S. COVID-19 activity. The report summarizes and interprets key indicators including information related to COVID-19 outpatient visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as laboratory data.
  • The CDC has also released new guidance for how cruise ship passengers will be able to travel home. Previously, passengers who were exposed to COVID-19 but showed no symptoms were allowed to travel home on commercial flights if they had no fever. With the newly released guidance, cruise companies will have to charter flights to return passengers to their home cities. The decision was released as 1,000 passengers were going to disembark the Coral Princess, which docked in Miami on Saturday.
  • Tomorrow, the FDA will host a webinar for device manufacturers and industry to discuss and answer questions on the recently issued, immediately-in-effect guidance on enforcement policy for PPE during COVID-19.  
  • This weekend on Meet the Press, while discussing an anticipated surge in COVID-19 deaths, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said, “next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment…it’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives.”
  • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that researchers are trying to figure out if a manufactured version of plasma from individuals who were previously exposed to COVID-19 could be administered preventively. Researchers are already studying whether using plasma from those who have recovered (convalescent plasma) could be used to treat people who are suffering from the disease.
  • Members of Congress are now looking ahead to a fourth supplemental funding package. House Dems are expected to take the lead on a fourth package, and Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the infrastructure framework from January will be the starting point of whatever bill they introduce. For a more thorough update on the legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update from Sierra Fuller. If you do not already receive that update and would like to subscribe, please email sfuller@cgagroup.com.
  • No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) remain the only members to test positive (or be presumptive positive) at this point. Eight other members are in self-quarantine and 29 have completed a self-quarantine.
Updates from Other States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 304,826  travel-related: 1,388 “close contact”: 4,325 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • On Saturday and Sunday, the numbers in COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance and the figure describing the cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States will be updated. These numbers are preliminary and have not been confirmed by state and territorial health departments. CDC will update weekend numbers the following Monday to reflect health department updates.
    • The CDC is reporting 7,616 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • The state of New Jersey has now reported more deaths from COVID-19 than it did from the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Washington State will return 400 ventilators to the SNS after determining that other “hot spot” areas in the U.S. could put them to better use. As of this afternoon, the state had 7,498 known cases of COVID-19 and 319 deaths.
  • A man who attended a funeral in Albany, Georgia infected a handful of other mourners, which snowballed into a disaster for Dougherty County. The county has now reported 24 deaths, the highest of any county in the state. 
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said today that his state could run out of ventilators by the end of this week if they don’t see a downward trend in cases.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office released a video thanking EMS workers from Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio who left their families to go to New York.
  • Experts have warned that other states are on pace to have epidemics as serious as that in New York. These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
  • Nine states still do not have state-wide stay at home orders in place: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The Mayors of some cities in Wyoming, Utah, and Oklahoma have issued orders to keep their residents inside, but the governors of those states have not announced blanket executive orders.
    • 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 through may and can be broken down by state.
International Affairs
  • PAHO has launched a new searchable database that contains the latest guidance and research on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Americas and affected countries worldwide. The press release is available here and the database is available here.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to the hospital for tests just over a week after testing positive for COVID-19. He was taken to a hospital in London with a temperature and persistent symptoms.
  • This evening, in an incredibly rare but highly anticipated act, the Queen of England addressed her nation from Windsor Castle. She thanks people for following government rules to stay home, and thanked key workers for all they’ve done. In her address, the Queen said everyone who was following guidance to stay at home was "helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones."
  • A second migrant facility in Greece has entered quarantine after a resident tested positive for COVID-19. It comes three days after a similar facility, where 23 asylum seekers were found to be infected, was put under quarantine.
  • Spain has reported another encouraging drop in its death toll, though the country still remains second in the world at 12,400 deaths.
  • Italian health authorities said that the use of intensive care unit beds decreased for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak.
  • In Jerusalem, Franciscan friars wearing surgical masks and gloves made house calls on Palm Sunday, delivering olive branches to Christians who are self-isolating as a precaution against COVID-19.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country’s 1.3 billion citizens to observe nine minutes without electricity this evening. He urged them to "challenge the darkness" of COVID-19 by lighting candles and lamps.
  • On Friday, I wrote about England’s first emergency field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, which opened in east London’s ExCel centre. The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital can hold as many as 4,000 patients. This article gives more information on how it was built and how it functions.
  • Global Cases:  1,133,758    Total Deaths:  62,784
Lifestyle and Economy
  • Zoom, the videoconferencing service that has seemingly taken over the world in this time of self-isolation, has experienced major privacy breaches (including the hijacking of webcams and microphones) over the last few weeks. This weekend, Zoom’s CEO apologized for falling short on security and promised to address concerns. Zoom will pause the development of any new features to concentrate on safety and privacy issues.
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19 in what scientists believe is a case of human-to-cat transmission. Several other big cats at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • United Airlines is partnering with New York City to provide free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. The airline is working closely with the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and a network of medical volunteer organizations, including The Society of Critical Care Medicine, to coordinate travel for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the country to help treat patients. 
  • Duke researchers are responding to the dire shortage of PPE by decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat COVID-19 patients. The scientists published their decontamination protocol here.
  • In his past two press briefings, President Trump has promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that health experts say lacks evidence of efficacy.
  • The Department of Labor reported today that employers cut 701,000 jobs last month. Over the last two weeks, more than 10 million Americans filed for unemployment.
  • 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).
Featured Resources
  • VIRTUAL Update Sponsored by PhRMA and BIO on the Biopharmaceutical Industry’s Commitment to Beat Coronavirus

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

    2:00 to 3:30 PM CST (note, the time was incorrectly put in last Friday’s issue as EST time)

    In these unprecedented times, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are coming together to achieve one shared goal: beat COVID-19. The decades-long investments biopharmaceutical companies have made in technology, research and treatments have prepared us to act swiftly. We all have a unique role to play and are confident that together we can be successful.

    Please join us for a discussion on the biopharmaceutical industry’s most recent efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.

    Dial-in information will be shared with those who RSVP, on Wednesday, April 8th.

    Please click here to RSVP to the event.
     
  • BrownWinick Law Firm has created a resource page which will be updated with resources for businesses here with many topics from IP to government assistance programs.
  • CRB Engineering has a COVID-19 Resource page geared toward their customers here.
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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