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COVID-19 Update
March 24, 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.
 
Iowa Update
Governor Kim Reynolds will hold a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. The press conference will be livestreamed and posted in full on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page and on YouTube.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 19 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 124 positive cases. There are a total of 2,315 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 
 
According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 19 individuals include:
  • Black Hawk, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Buchanan County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Dallas County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Johnson County, 1 middle-aged adult, 1 older adult 
  • Muscatine County, 2 older adults (61-80) 
  • Polk County, 3 adults, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Poweshiek County 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Story County, 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
  • Tama County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Warren County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Washington County, 1 older adult (61-80 years) 
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, Governor Reynolds held a press conference highlighting actions her administration is taking to help businesses during this time of shutdown due to COVID-19. She said the state programs will be a stop-gap until the federal response starts to reach the states.
 
Currently there is no shelter-in-place order, but the Governor called on anyone returning from spring break from outside of Iowa to self-quarantine for 14 days. Restaurants, bars, gyms, and other businesses like spas, salons and tattoo parlors are also shut down.
 
Many measures are being taken in Iowa to lessen burden on Iowans dealing with disruptions caused by the virus. They include:
 
Unemployment insurance tax extension to assist small businesses:
First quarter unemployment tax payments that are due April 30th will be delayed till the end of the 2nd quarter, July 31, 2020.  Eligible employers include those employers with 50 or fewer employees. Eligible employers also must be in good standing with no delinquencies in quarterly payments. 
 
To qualify for the extension, the employer must be current on all quarterly tax payments before the 1st quarter of 2020 regardless of whether or not they are seeking an extension of tax payment. All employers must file Quarterly Employers Contribution and Payroll Report electronically by 4:30 on April 24th to avoid late report filing penalty. 
 
Payments for Q1 would be due when Q2 payments are due, July 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accrue for delayed payments for the eligible group.  The extension of payment deadline without interest is not a holiday or forgiveness and the taxes will be due July 31, 2020. Employers still need to file their quarterly reports, which contain employee wage data necessary to compute benefit eligibility and amounts to be paid.
 
For an employer who elects to take advantage of the extension, please contact our Unemployment Insurance Tax division at either 1-888-848-7442 or by sending an email to Q1tax@iwd.iowa.gov.   If an employer would like to request additional time to pay the tax, please contact the Unemployment Insurance Tax Division. IWD recommends sending an email versus a phone call as there is a high call volume during this time that may lead to extended wait times.  Employers must notify IWD of intent to delay payment by Friday, April 24th at 4:30 pm.
 
COVID-19 Iowa Small Business Relief Program:
Financial Assistance and Tax Deferral Now Available to Eligible Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
New Iowa Small Business Relief Program will provide financial assistance to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000 in addition to offering Iowa businesses a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.
 
Iowa Small Business Relief Program Grant:
To be eligible for a small business relief grant, eligible businesses must:  
  • Be experiencing business disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Have employed between 2-25 people prior to March 17, 2020 
The Small Business Relief Grants will assist eligible businesses in maintaining operations or reopening business following the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds may not be used to pay debts incurred prior to March 17, 2020.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority will review grant applications for eligibility and will determine the grant amount by the level of impact including loss in sales revenue and employees. Notification of award decisions and disbursement of grant funds will be expedited.
 
Tax Assistance:
The Iowa Department of Revenue will review each application as applicable, to determine if it is appropriate to grant a deferral of the eligible taxes and waiver of penalty and interest.
 
The dual application for grant assistance and tax deferral is available at iowabusinessrecovery.com. The deadline for applications is March 31 at 12:00 p.m. (noon). The program may be restricted due to funding availability.  
 
Federal Legislation
Supplemental III – “COVID-III”
Timeline: Yesterday, the Senate reconsidered the failed cloture vote on proceeding to the bill that is intended to serve as the legislative vehicle for the third coronavirus supplemental – the vote failed 49-46 (60 votes are required for cloture). Leader McConnell moved forward with this procedural vote despite having not yet reached a bipartisan agreement on the package. Negotiations are ongoing between the two Senate Leaders and Sec. Mnuchin, and the hope remains that once a deal is reached, the bill can be considered expeditiously under a time agreement. Leader Schumer has indicated that should a bipartisan agreement emerge, he would want to move the bill quickly. 
 
Leader McConnell filed cloture, once again, on the motion to proceed to H.R. 748, the legislative vehicle for the supplemental. Absent an agreement being reached allowing for votes in relation to the COVID package sooner, this move sets up a cloture vote on proceeding to the vehicle one hour after the Senate convenes on Wednesday. However, procedural hoops aside, the goal remains to continue negotiations to reach a bipartisan deal and move a package as soon as possible.  
 
Process and Politics: Early in the day yesterday, there was a lot of optimism for coming to an agreement – Democrats and Republicans had been making progress across multiple fronts. However, late in the day it seemed clear that a deal was unlikely to come together. Later yesterday, House Democrats released a draft bill, which outlined their priorities and served as a marker for negotiations.
 
Policy: As with previous big deals, nothing is final until everything is final. All policies previously discussed continue to be on the table and could be part of a final deal. That being said, the latest information indicates that a deal will include ~$100 billion fund for health providers, increases on providers to DRG payments COVID-related services, addressing drug and device shortages, faster vaccine coverage on insurance plans, Medicare sequester suspended for two years, and an extension of unemployment insurance for an additional four months.
  • Ongoing negotiations are centered around additional funding for hospitals, a language request related to Planned Parenthood, a state stabilization fund, and corporate governance provisions. Small business and the provisions under the jurisdiction of Senate Finance Committee are largely set – the pressure of getting a bill passed quickly has made staff hesitant to open further negotiations on anything that may not find a consensus quickly. Members and staff recognize that there will likely be later opportunities (as there is an agreement to draft a fourth and fifth supplemental).
  • Appropriators have agreed to a topline of ~$300 billion but are still working out what would be in a final bill.
  • Negotiations have rendered the following materials out of date (as changes could have been made but unreported), but the CARES Act still is the base being negotiated from. CARES text (as released on Sunday morning) here. Summary of Title I (Small Business), II (Individual and Business provisions), IV (Economic Stabilization) here. Summary of Title III (Health) here. Summary of Division B (appropriations) here.
Drafts of the proposed House bill have been circulating. While the House will likely not vote on the bill and not all the provisions in the draft will make it into COVID-III, the provisions that do not make it into this supplemental will likely be the pieces Democrats will push for in negotiations of later bills. See here for the most recent draft that was circulated. Section by section here. One-pager here. FAQ on proposed unemployment compensation here. FAQ on economic assistance payments here. Highlights include:
  • $150 billion for hospitals, CHCs, government medical systems, including $80 billion in low-interest loans to hospitals;
  • $1,500 to individuals in direct cash payment, up to $7,500 for family of five;
  • Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit;
  • Refundable employer payroll tax credit (tied to the payment of employee wages COVID-19 crisis);
  • Expands paid sick days and family medical leave (extends to 12/31/2021, paid sick leave required regardless of size of the company);
  • Health extenders extended to end of the fiscal year;
  • $500+ billion grants and interest-free loans (some forgivable) for small businesses, additional $184 billion for low-interest disaster loans;
  • $200 billion state stabilization fund, $15 billion in Community Development Block Grant for local governments;
  • $60 billion for schools/universities ($50 billion for states’ school funding and $10 billion for higher education);
  • $10 billion in grants to airports, $40 billion in grants to airlines and ground support contractors ($21 billion in loans), $100 million in grants to maintain service to small communities.
  • Housing support, including $100 billion for emergency rental assistance to low-income renters at risk of homelessness, $32 billion for state housing agencies, and $1.1 billion for HUD multi-family housing programs;
  • $25 billion for public transportation to ensure continued operations;
  • Over $250 million for investments in telemedicine (ReConnect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine), $2 billion for broadband hotspots/devices to for distance learning, and $1 billion for the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans.
Supplemental IV and onward
Leadership has agreed on drafting a fourth and fifth supplemental – unclear what will be included yet.
 
Passed Legislation
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)

The Senate passed the bill 90-8 Wednesday afternoon 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.
 
Supplemental I – Coronavirus Supplemental
Signed by the President March 6. Text here, summary here.
 
Congress
House is currently in recess but will be called back when votes are needed on the next supplemental (with 24-hour notice). House Democratic leaders have said that members will not have to return until after a deal the supplemental is reached.
 
Senate is in session. Leader McConnell has said the Senate will stay in session until a third supplemental has passed.
 
As of right now, the appropriations markup schedule is unchanged. 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.
 
Remote voting: Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell have both voiced opposition to members’ voting remotely, but as more members of Congress have begun self-quarantining and the pandemic makes travel more treacherous, in-person voting may become more difficult. Speaker Pelosi circulated a Dear Colleague last week stating that the House will “adjust our voting procedures in order to follow the CDC’s recommendations.” Similarly, in its notice of the vote Sunday, the Senate Cloakroom encouraged members to socially distance during votes. Remote voting is being discussed to some extent in both chambers.
 
Virtual hearings: 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.
 
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)
Tested Positive (3): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (26): Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Completed Quarantine (4): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
 
Other Federal Actions
  • CDC continues to update its list of FAQ for healthcare professionals.
  • CMS announced a new inspection process for nursing homes and healthcare facilities that includes a self-assessment tool for providers. The new inspection plans come following a CMS review of the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. CMS is temporarily postponing routine inspections at healthcare facilities to focus on prioritized inspections. 
  • The NIH launched a website with educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The website contains virtual safety training for frontline responders who must continue working despite coronavirus.
  • The White House introduced the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium to provide COVID-19 researchers worldwide with access to high performance computing resources. Researchers may submit COVID-19 research proposals to the consortium which will then be reviewed and matched with computing resources.
  • The IRS temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and stopped face-to-face service through the country. The IRS will continue to process tax returns, issue refunds, and help taxpayers to the “greatest extent possible.”
  • The Census Bureau has paused all hiring and on-boarding for nearly 600,000 employees due to COVID-19 until at least April 1st.
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) penned a letter signed by 126 House Democrats urging the Administration to drop its ACA lawsuit amid the coronavirus pandemic. The letter warns of a healthcare system collapse should the Supreme Court strike down the ACA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ben McAdams (D-UT) as the only members of Congress who have tested positive for COVID-19; however, 26 other members are now in self-quarantine. Four members have completed a self-quarantine.
Featured COVID-19 resources
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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