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COVID-19 Update
January 12, 2021
IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 298,037 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,177 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,399,877 tested. 1 additional death was reported since our last update, bringing the total to 4,139 deaths. Now 258,744 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 14.1% the past 7-day average is 10.6%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 552 hospitalized patients.

School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.

Currently 51 (of 99) counties are at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.

Washington, D.C.
  • Last week, the FDA posted a new webpage, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions. Questions cover specifics, such as what data did the FDA review when deciding whether to authorize the vaccine for emergency use, how well the vaccine prevents COVID-19, and more.
  • You can now monitor the latest data for your county’s hospital admissions and hospital and ICU beds in use in the COVID Data Tracker. Search your county’s data to find the latest hospitalizations, cases, deaths, and more here
  • Here is the most recent COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The latest report shows weekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates reached the highest point of the pandemic in December and remain high. Rates have gone down recently, but are expected to go up as more data come in.
  • The most recent COVID-19 Science Update from the CDC is here
  • The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can now also keep track of vaccinations here. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
  • The Department of Education announced that more than $4 billion in additional COVID-19 emergency relief is now available to governors to ensure learning continues for students of all ages and at all schools. This emergency relief aid, the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, has two components: supplemental GEER awards (GEER II) and the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) awards, which comprise $2.75 billion of the total. These funds are authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) which was signed on Dec. 27, 2020. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) is the most recent Member of Congress to have tested positive for COVID-19. Members of the House of Representatives and their staffs received a memo from the attending physician on Sunday morning that said “many” of them “may have been exposed” to the coronavirus while on lockdown in the Capitol last Wednesday.
  • President-elect Joe Biden got his second dose of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday in Newark, Delaware.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 22,322,956 total cases and 373,167 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • The U.S. has not seen a day with fewer than 100,000 new cases in more than two months, with a record-high average of 243,000 newly confirmed infections every day. Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina are averaging the most daily new cases per person.
  • The U.S. has recorded more than 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for 40 days in a row. There are currently 129,223 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
  • Sunday marked the 41st consecutive day with more than 1,000 fatalities from COVID-19 reported nationwide. California alone reported more than 3,300 coronavirus deaths in the week that ended Sunday. No state except New York has recorded more than that in a single week.
  • D.C. has been averaging 290 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, its highest figure for any seven-day stretch of the pandemic. The rest of the Mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, is also surging: all three states set weekly case records on Sunday.
  • North Dakota has reported no COVID-19 deaths for three days in a row.
  • Arizona’s top provider of COVID-19 tests, which operates 60 testing locations statewide, said it may have to close locations or start charging people for tests in order to continue operating as the state faces a massive surge in COVID-19 cases.
  • Five new coronavirus vaccination centers opened in New York. Two sites are mass vaccination centers that, starting Monday, will operate 24/7.
  • Florida, Louisiana, New York, and Texas have expanded who is eligible to get a vaccine now, even though many people in the first priority group recommended by the CDC — the nation’s 21 million health care workers and three million residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — have yet to receive a shot.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) activated Oregon National Guard members to support vaccination efforts, beginning with the Salem Health vaccination event at the state fairgrounds.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Friday said the state will double the number of vaccine distribution locations available to residents after Mississippi’s vaccination rollout saw a slow start.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the expansion of the state's vaccination distribution network to help accelerate the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to New Yorkers currently eligible under group 1A and begin the vaccination of those eligible under group 1B.
  • Tennessee teachers, school staff, and child care workers must wait for COVID-19 vaccinations until after people age 70 and older receive their shots, state officials said Friday.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that the state will make weekly COVID-19 pool testing available to Massachusetts schools within the next month to help bring more students back into the classroom.
  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidance on school reopening, aiming to offer in-person learning options to all students no later than March 1. Teachers and other school staff began receiving vaccinations across the state today.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that schools can reopen for in-person learning for eighth grade and below starting on Jan. 19. Grades 9 to 12 will not be doing in-person learning.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an EO prohibiting price-gouging during the COVID-19 state of emergency, extending a previous order.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) amended and extended an EO that expands the health care workforce to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in outpatient settings.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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. NPR's map can also be used to monitor your state's heatwave. 
    • 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 series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
Science, Lifestyle, and Economy
  • More than 25.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and nearly 9 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
  • States are increasingly abandoning guidelines from the CDC and taking their own approaches to giving people coronavirus vaccines, new analysis finds.
  • Reports on new SARS-CoV-2 variants are available here
  • Two independent analyses have found that a new SARS-CoV-2 variant overtaking the U.K. is indeed more transmissible than other forms of the virus. Both found it to be roughly 50 percent more transmissible than other variants.
  • Under a range of assumptions of presymptomatic transmission and transmission from individuals with infection who never develop symptoms, the model presented in this study estimated that more than half of transmission comes from asymptomatic individuals.
  • In a study investigating the long-term health effects of COVID-19, 76 percent (1265 of 1655) of the patients discharged from a hospital reported at least one symptom that persisted 6-months after being diagnosed, with fatigue or muscle weakness being the most frequently reported symptom (63 percent, 1038 of 1655). More than half of patients presented with residual chest imaging abnormalities.
  • A recent MMWR article found rates of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and staff members increased during June and July 2020, and again in November. Trends in reported COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and staff members were similar to trends in incidence of COVID-19 in surrounding communities.
  • Pope Francis says he will soon receive a COVID-19 vaccination, perhaps as early as next week, and said receiving the vaccine is a duty for everyone.
  • Nurses in the Chicago Public Schools district have objected to officials’ plans to begin bringing students back to classrooms on Monday, saying they do not think it is safe to do so.
  • COVID-19 killed more law enforcement officers in the line of duty than anything else in 2020, according to a new report.
  • The NBA has postponed two games due to COVID-19 safety protocols: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks originally scheduled for Monday night and Tuesday’s matchup between the Boston Celtics and host Chicago Bulls.
  • Support for holding the Olympics in Japan this summer has plummeted, according to a new poll from Kyodo News Agency that found that roughly 80 percent of respondents felt the event should be canceled or rescheduled.
  • Two captive gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19 after falling ill, and a third gorilla appears also to be symptomatic.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said global carbon emissions, which have been reduced by the pandemic, are set to rebound in 2021 unless governments take swift policy action.
  • After an 18-hour flight from Dubai landed in Auckland, New Zealand, in September, local health authorities discovered evidence of an outbreak that most likely occurred during the trip. Using seat maps and genetic analysis, the new study determined that one passenger initiated a chain of infection that spread to four others en route.
  • An international trial of the use of convalescent blood plasma on COVID-19 patients with moderate and severe illness has halted enrolment of severely ill patients requiring intensive care after it found no benefit.
  • Delays were reported at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after an air traffic control center that serves the area reported a coronavirus infection and closed for cleaning on Sunday.
  • The University of California is planning to return to primarily in-person instruction statewide beginning fall 2021 as access to COVID-19 vaccines becomes more widely accessible.
  • Dodger Stadium will become a COVID-19 vaccination site by the end of the week and will no longer offer testing after today. Once the site is fully operational, up to 12,000 people can be vaccinated per day.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The BIO coronavirus pipeline tracker is here. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. 
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints 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.
International Affairs
  • Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
  • A group of experts from the WHO are set to arrive in China on Thursday for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The WHO aims to launch COVID-19 vaccines in poor and lower middle-income countries in February through its Covax program.
  • Israel is leading the world in vaccinating its people, with almost 20 percent of the population having received at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
  • Japanese health officials alerted the WHO of a new COVID-19 variant, which is different than COVID-19 variants first identified in the U.K. and in South Africa.
  • Indonesian regulators have granted emergency approval to the Chinese-made Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first country outside China to do so.
  • Russian vaccine scientists on Monday began a study to determine whether they can speed up the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign by providing only a single dose of its normally two-dose vaccine.
  • Seychelles, an island nation of just under 100,000 people, became the first African country to begin immunizing its population against COVID-19 with a vaccine developed by China’s state-owned Sinopharm.
  • India will begin a mass vaccination program on Saturday, aiming to administer doses to 300 million frontline workers and elderly and vulnerable people by August.
  • British authorities announced their decision to delay the administration of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines to help more people receive an initial dose, a policy shift that has not yet been backed by scientists. The U.K. opened seven mass vaccination centers across the country to bolster its vaccine rollout on Monday.
  • Hospital mortuaries in Britain are running out of room for bodies as the country grapples with a surge in infections.
  • Hospitals in Peru’s north, south, and central regions have no beds left in their ICUs. In the capital of Lima, only six ICU beds are left.
  • Germany implemented new COVID-19 mitigation measures Monday that will remain in place until at least Jan. 31. Residents may only have one home visitor at a time; those living in hotspot regions are confined to a nine-mile radius around their houses; only grocery stores and drugstores can remain open; and travelers entering Germany from high-risk areas must register upon arrival, quarantine for 10 days, and be tested for the virus.
  • More than half a million people were placed under lockdown in Beijing on Monday as the Chinese government imposed strict measures to stamp out a handful of COVID-19 cases. All rural villages in Shunyi district on the outskirts of Beijing are locked down until a fresh round of mass testing has been completed. Officials also said locals would be under “closed management,” suggesting they will be barred from leaving their residences.
  • Malaysia will impose a two-week partial lockdown in the worst-hit areas of the country on Wednesday, forcing all non-essential businesses to close.
  • Zimbabwe has banned families from transporting their dead relatives between cities as part of new measures to stop traditional funeral rites that are believed to be increasing the spread of COVID-19.
  • One week after enforcing a three-week lockdown, Lebanon introduced stricter COVID-19 mitigation measures under which there will be a 24-hour curfew, land and maritime borders will be closed to all travelers except those with transit visas, and supermarkets will be open for delivery service only. Medical workers, employees of oil and wheat sectors, journalists, and people who work in fields such as telecommunication, water, and electricity are exempt.
  • Teachers in Malta have returned to their classrooms and ended a two-day strike after the government agreed to give them priority in the island country’s vaccination campaign.
  • Primary schools and kindergartens in Greece reopened on Monday after a two-month closure. The country’s secondary schools and universities will remain closed, with classes being conducted remotely.
  • The city of Brisbane, Australia, will lift a strict three-day lockdown enforced last week after a case of the new variant of the coronavirus was recorded. The lockdown will end Monday evening, though masks will remain mandatory in crowded spaces in the city for another 10 days.
  • Thailand’s tourism minister hopes to boost the country’s economy by allowing overseas visitors to quarantine at golf resorts. Under a proposed plan, tourists would no longer be stuck in their rooms for the two-week quarantine period; instead, they would be able to golf and explore the resorts, presumably while keeping a safe distance from others.
  • Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Global Cases: 90,995,185         Total Deaths: 1,947,758
Helpful Articles/Media
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 © 2021 Iowa Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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