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COVID-19 Update
April 30, 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 467 additional positive cases for a total of 6,843 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,047 negative tests for a total of 34,494 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. The number of positive cases will continue to grow as Test Iowa sites open and additional surveillance testing of large businesses and nursing home staff continues.  93 percent of the new positive cases are in the 22 counties where full social distancing restrictions remain in place.
 
According to IDPH, an additional 12 deaths were also reported. 323 are currently hospitalized, and 2,428 Iowans have recovered. At this time, 1 in 76 Iowans have been tested. To see Iowa information on the coronavirus visit the coronavirus hub at https://coronavirus.iowa.gov
 
At her press conference yesterday, Governor Reynolds reported statistics and information about the Test Iowa testing initiative. Since launching Test Iowa last week 229,000 Iowans have completed the online assessment at www.testiowa.com. Polk Lynn Black Hawk and Dallas counties have responded the most. Nearly 2,300 have scheduled testing through Test Iowa.

The Des Moines Test Iowa drive through testing site remains open Monday through Friday. The second site opened in Waterloo yesterday at Crossroads Mall, and the state will open two more sites next week in Woodbury and Scott counties. They are deploying strike teams to do surveillance testing of employees who work in long-term care facilities or essential workplaces with virus activity. Tomorrow she will give an update on serology testing.

She spoke about meat processing facilities and all the measures being taken to protect the workforce and keep the plants open, including surveillance testing, providing proper PPE and following new CDC guidance.

The Iowa Capitol Dispatch reports that Iowa’s legislative leaders intend to allow the public to be at the capitol when they reconvene the suspended legislative session, and that they are looking to better understand state revenues combined with CARES Act federal dollars, as well as look at the Governor’s revised budget, to help chart the course for the state budget process. It is unclear whether the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet again to help project state revenues in light of COVID-19 impacts. Senate Majority leader Jack Whitver indicated he’s looking for the cases in Polk County to peak, before considering returning. The legislature has suspended session until at least May 15 and the Legislative Council can extend that through the end of August if necessary, because the legislature has already funded the state budget at status quo levels until then.

The Legislative Services Agency put out a summary document of the state of Iowa’s and the Federal Government’s taxation response to COVID-19.

IowaBio Member Highlights

Yesterday, MercyOne and Corteva Agriscience announced that they have joined forces to fill the urgent need for the processing of COVID-19 samples with an initial focus on Iowa. MercyOne health care providers will collect the samples and deliver them to Corteva, where a small team of trained Corteva employees will process and assess the samples using the company’s sophisticated genetic screening capabilities. Read more here.

Latest on the Virus
  • Results from an NIH clinical trial suggest that the drug remdesivir accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19. The trial (known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, or ACTT), sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the first clinical trial launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19. Preliminary results from the trial indicate that patients who received remdesivir had a 31 percent faster time to recovery than those who received a placebo treatment.
  • STAT News is reporting that COVID-19 patients are responding to Gilead’s remdesivir – a sign of hope on the horizon.
  • Watch Dr. Fauci speak about the clinical trial results here.
Federal Legislation

Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0. / Phase 4

Timeline: House leaders announced that the House would not, in fact, be returning next week. Leader Hoyer said that after consulting the House Attending Physician, leadership made the decision to not open back up next week. The reasoning for members returning would be for mostly committee work and limited floor activity, as a bill likely won’t be ready for a vote in the House until mid- or late-May. A bill could be released as soon as next week. Additionally, there continues to be a push for remote voting, which, if enacted, could allow the House to move quicker. House Democrats still see Phase 4 as the next step in supplementals with a vote in May, followed by an infrastructure-focused bill in June.

Putting aside House activity, it will likely be some time before the Senate moves again on a COVID-19 bill. The President has called for another bill quickly, but he is pushing for a quicker pace than Republican leadership is planning.

Process/Politics: House Democrats seem to be taking the lead on introducing a bill first. However, as far as negotiations with Republicans goes, finding compromises on this bill may be more difficult than past bills. Republicans have said they want to see how the spending has been used before moving to the next bill.

Policy: We’re back in the liminal space between bills, where a bill has yet to be introduced, a deal has yet to be reached, and there is a fluid and wide-ranging debate occurring on what should be included.

Democrats have indicated the next bill must include additional funding for state, local, and tribal governments; funding for hospitals and health providers; funding for election security and assistance as well as a vote-by-mail; increased funding for nutrition assistance; extensions of unemployment insurance; expansion of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program to businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees. Other priorities that have been discussed include additional economic stimulus checks, guaranteed paychecks for affected workers, direct assistance for housing, hazard pay for front-line workers, childcare assistance. Notably, Democrats may be shifting to introduce a standalone bill by June to fund the U.S. Postal Service, as opposed to including it in a coronavirus-related package.
 
After his remarks last week, Leader McConnell walked back his comments on federal support for states, saying he was open to additional funding for states but indicated that it should be for coronavirus-specific purposes. In a call yesterday with Republican senators, Leader McConnell rejected any inclusion of major infrastructure funding in the next coronavirus bill. Last week, the President called for Congress to pass a bill with infrastructure investment, aid to state and local governments, a payroll tax cut, and tax breaks for restaurants, sports, and entertainment interests. Some Republican members have said they want a more economic stimulus and recovery-focused bill, with funding for infrastructure like broadband, roads, and bridges. Republicans have also voiced concern around energy industry losses and its implication for the broader economy. Leader McConnell has also said that the next bill must include liability protections for employers.

Highlights from the Democratic “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act”, some of which were implemented in CARES include:
  • $150 billion for hospitals, CHCs, government medical systems, including $80 billion in low-interest loans to hospitals;
    • CARES and COVID 3.5 provided a total of $175 billion to hospitals/providers;
  • $1,500 to individuals in direct cash payment, up to $7,500 for family of five;
    • CARES included a $1,200 stimulus payment to Americans with an income phase-out and extra $500 per child;
  • Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit;
  • Expands paid sick days and family medical leave (extends to 12/31/2021, paid sick leave required regardless of size of the company);
  • $500+ billion grants and interest-free loans (some forgivable) for small businesses, additional $184 billion for low-interest disaster loans;
    • CARES and COVID 3.5 provided a total of $660 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program;
  • $200 billion state stabilization fund, $15 billion in Community Development Block Grant for local governments;
    • CARES provided $150 billion for a fund for state, local, and tribal governments;
  • $60 billion for schools/universities ($50 billion for states’ school funding and $10 billion for higher education);
    • CARES provided $30 billion for schools/universities ($13.2 billion for elementary/secondary, $13.9 billion for high ed, and almost $3 billion for governors to disburse).
  • $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;
    • CARES provided loans with the amounts of $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for businesses “critical to maintaining national security”, as well as $32 billion in grants for air carrier employee wages.
  • 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;
    • CARES included a temporary ban on eviction filings, a ban on foreclosures of federally backed mortgage loans, and forbearance for certain borrowers;
  • $25 billion for public transportation to ensure continued operations;
    • CARES provided the Federal Transit Administration $25 billion to distribute to transit providers.
  • 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.
    • CARES provided an additional $100 million for ReConnect, $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, and $200 million for a FCC telehealth initiative.
  • $4 billion in grants funding to states for elections and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency;
    • CARES provided $400 million for election security grants for states.
  • Two-month open enrollment period to allow individuals who are uninsured, for whatever reason, to enroll in coverage;
  • Relief to private student loan borrowers by having the Department of Treasury make private student loan payments on behalf of the borrower, up to $10,000;
  • Prohibition of debt collectors taking adverse action against consumers, small businesses, or non-profits during the pandemic.
On Monday, the Republican Study Committee released a 37-point proposal outlining plans for combatting COVID-19 and facilitating economic recovery. Highlights include:
  • Offset future COVID-19-related deficits and implement a “spending control” mechanism such as tying spending to annual revenues or potential GDP;
  • Sanction Chinese officials, end visas for Chinese government officials, prohibit distribution of China Daily, pressure the Chinese government to allow the CDC access to China, and direct a Congressional probe of the World Health Organization and its relationship with China;
  • Further expand telemedicine services, relax restrictions of drone deliveries for medical purposes;
  • Remove barriers to production of drugs, ingredients, and medical devices and allow businesses to instantly expense investments in R&D and physical capital;
  • Direct the FDA to fast-track any COVID-19 related drug or device approved in an allied country;
  • Waive certain federal hiring requirements and alter the GS wage scale to give greater compensation to those with in need skills;
  • Give all federal agencies access to death data, require sharing of death data by states, to ensure benefits are not distributed to deceased individuals;
  • Streamline certain federal permitting processes related to NEPA and endangered species’ habitats.
  • Ensure gig workers are treated as independent contractors and not as employees;
  • Allow investments in workers’ education to be tax deductible;
  • Allow employers to offer alternatives to overtime and pay above what is specified in a union contract;
  • Relax public housing voucher requirements;
  • Allow students in short-term career and technical education to be eligible for Pell Grants;
  • Allow 529 Accounts for homeschooling funds;
  • Remove CARES Act language that prohibits providers who receive funding from HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program to require participants to use certain support services.
Passed Legislation

New information and guidance regarding passed legislation:
  • 4/29 – Treasury released updated FAQs on the Employee Retention Credit.
  • 4/29 – Speaker Pelosi announced the members of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. The Democratic members are the following:
    • Chairwoman Maxine Waters (Financial Services)
    • Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (Oversight and Reform)
    • Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (Small Business)
    • Chairman Bill Foster (Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
    • Chairman Jamie Raskin (Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of Oversight and Reform Committee)
    • Chairman Andy Kim (Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access of Small Business Committee)
  • 4/29 – SBA announced that from 4:00-11:49pm today, SBA systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. The move was aimed at ensuring access to the PPP loan program for smaller lenders and their customers.
  • 4/28 – SBA announced it would no longer accept PPP loan applications submitted by robotic processing systems, in a move to
  • 4/27 – The Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion of and extension of the Municipal Liquidity Facility.
    • Treasury shared revisions on the term sheet with the Federal Reserve, who in turn has shared them with the Governors. The Fed is still trying to finalize the term sheet by next week. 
    • The announcement seems to indicate that Secretary Mnuchin thinks it is going to take longer for our economy to come back online and is looking at tax and regulatory treatments to aid in recovery, absent another large COVID-19 bill making its way through Congress. 
  • 4/27 – USDA announced that Kansas and Virginia have been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
  • 4/26 – CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program (AAP) and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. Since expanding the AAP programs on March 28th, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. For providers who have already applied for the program, the announcement doesn’t affect them. Press release here.
    • The announcement came as a surprise to Democrats, who were actively negotiating with the department officials on modifying the program.
Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)

The President signed the bill into law on April 24. Text here. Section by section here. Summary of hospital and testing provisions here. DPCC one pager here. Senate Democrats summary of health provisions. Overview of commitments regarding health funding and Medicare advance payments the Administration made as part of negotiations.

Highlights include:
  • $310 billion total for PPP with $250 billion unrestricted and a $60 billion set aside for smaller institutions:
    • $30 billion for assets less than $10 billion;
    • $30 billion for assets between $10 billion and $50 billion.
  • $50 billion for EIDL loans;
  • $10 billion for EIDL Advance grants;
  • $2.1 billion for SBA administrative expenses.
  • The bill also clarifies agriculture enterprises are eligible for PPP (they were eligible for 7(a) in the past, but they weren’t eligible for EIDL because they received disaster relief from USDA in the past). 
  • The bill did not expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)(6)s and 501(c)(7)s, but lawmakers have brought up the issue with Secretary Mnuchin, specifically regarding local and regional chambers of commerce. Treasury is currently looking into is whether they have enough regulatory authority to expand eligibility or if that requires a legislative fix.
  • $75B for hospitals and providers (summary of hospital and testing provisions here);
  • $25 billion for testing, broken into the following categories:
    • $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, scale-up laboratory capacity, trace contracts, and support employer testing.
      • $2 billion for states using the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant formula;
      • $4.5 billion provided to hotspot areas;
      • $750 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations in coordination with IHS.
    • $1 billion for the CDC for surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, contact tracing, public health data, and analytics infrastructure modernization;
    • $1.8 billion to NIH for testing and associated technologies and for partnerships to research and implement the activities;
      • (Note: This bill will roughly double the amount that Congress has appropriated for NIH for COVID-19 purposes so far.)
    • $ 1 billion for BARDA for advanced research, development, manufacturing, production and purchase of COVID-19 tests and related supplies;
    • $22 million for the FDA for diagnostic activities;
    • $825 million for Community Health Centers and rural health clinics;
    • $1 billion to cover costs of testing for the uninsured;
    • $6 million for the HHS Office of Inspector General.
Supplemental III – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

After a unanimous vote by the Senate, the House passed the bill on March 27 and the President signed the bill into law shortly after. Final text here. Democratic summary here. Republican section by section here.

Small Business Loans
  • Treasury released an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program on how lenders will calculate loan amounts for employers with seasonal employees. Rule here.
  • 4/24 – SBA issued a procedural guidance on participation sales here.
  • 4/24 – SBA released an interim final rule on requirements for Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation, and Eligibility. Interim Final Rule here. Additional eligibility criteria and requirements for certain loans here.
  • 4/24 – Data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
  • 4/23 – The Treasury Department asked all publicly traded companies that received funds under the program to return the funds within two weeks.
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule on the small business provisions in the bill. See here for a memo Cornerstone put together on the interim final rule.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
    • PPP FAQ here (as of 4/23)
Individual and Business Tax Relief
  • IRS guidance on deferral of payroll taxes here
  • House Ways and Means factsheet on Economic Impact Rebate portal here
  • IRS’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here.
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 4/26 – CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program (AAP) and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. Since expanding the AAP programs on March 28th, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. For providers who have already applied for the program, the announcement doesn’t affect them. Press release here.
    • The announcement came as a surprise to Democrats, who were actively negotiating with the department officials on modifying the program.
  • 4/27 – Outline of the Provider Relief Fund with additions from COVID 3.5 here.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on how the next $60 billion in the health relief fund will be distributed. HHS has committed that it will send out an additional $60 billion dollars in the coming weeks, much of it coming within the next 10 days. That funding will be distributed as follows:
    • $10 billion for hotspots, which will be for the top 100 counties with Covid-19 cases to date. Payments are expected to be distributed by Wednesday, April 29. The funding will be based on total ICU beds and Covid-19 patient admissions, cumulatively for the period from January 1 to April 10. An additional weighting factor, using Medicaid DSH status, will provide a greater proportion of this funding to those that treat underserved patients.
    • $10 billion in additional hotspot funding, expected to go out in the next 45 days.
    • $10 billion for rural health care.
    • $400 million for Native American health care systems. Payments are expected to be distributed on Friday, April 24.
    • $20 billion to reconcile the inequities from the initial $30 billion, which was based on Medicare fee-for-service payments and left out providers that rely heavily on non-FFS payers. When combined with the initial $30 billion, this total will be calculated based on the provider’s portion of 2018 net patient revenue. Of this total, $9.3 billion will be released by Friday, and the remaining $10.7 billion will require providers to submit an application attesting to their revenue. Those payments will go out weekly on a rolling basis.
    • $10 billion to cover the cost of providing treatment for the uninsured. Applications will be accepted within 10 days, with payments going out within 30 days.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on changes to Medicare advance payment policies. The administration committed that, by the end of this week, Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows will release a letter stating that they will:
    • Use their administrative authority to reduce the interest rate down from what is currently 10.25 percent to a rate that is more in line with a traditional federal interest rate.
    • Use their administrative authority to extend the repayment period beyond 12 months.
    • Work with Congress and support legislation in Corona 4 that will place the liability for these payments in Treasury’s General Revenue fund, rather than the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Funds. The expansion of these programs must not adversely affect Medicare’s solvency or result in premium increases for seniors.
  • 4/9 – Secretary DeVos indicated that she would be moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in CARES for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The grants can be used by college students for technology, course materials, food, housing, and healthcare. DeVos distributed the funding to colleges, which are meant to then distribute the aid among students. The Department did not issue guidance on how colleges are to structure the program, but colleges will be required to sign a form certifying that the funds were used in accordance with the law. See here for the specific allocations for each college.
  • 4/27 – Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million in discretionary grant funds will be available for states to use to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to COVID-19. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Economic Stabilization
  • 3/30 – The Treasury Department released guidance on payroll support to airline industry employees, and on loans to the airline industry and businesses critical to national security. Guidance for payroll support here. Guidance on procedures and minimum requirements for loans here. Treasury press release here.
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 4/13 – Treasury launched its web portal for payments to state, local, and tribal governments. Treasury announced that eligible government entities must provide required information by Friday, April 17 to receive payment within the 30-day window allowed under CARES and those that miss that deadline may not receive funding. Submission page here. Some highlights from the announcement below:
    • Funds are only allowed to be used for expenses which:
      • Are necessary expenses during the coronavirus emergency;
      • Were not accounted in the most recent budget (as of March 27, 2020);
      • Were incurred between 3/1/2020 – 12/30/2020.
    • Eligible local governments are those below the state level (county, municipality etc.) with a population higher than 500,000. See here for data sources and the distribution methodology.  See here for a list of eligible local government units.
    • Amounts paid to governments will be based on population and the amounts allocated to states will be reduced by the total amount provided to local governments in the state. 
    • More than a dozen tribes have sued the Treasury Department over its guidance identifying Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as eligible entities for the fund. Last Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin said that the department would not be releasing funding until Tuesday, April 28 – two days after the deadline outlined in the CARES Act. The court on Monday preliminarily enjoined Treasury from disbursing funds to ANCs.
  • 4/22 – Treasury issued guidance on the state/local/tribal governments fund here. The guidance further defines what expenses qualify as “necessary expenditures” and provides examples as well as examples of ineligible expenses.
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)

The Senate passed the House bill on March 18 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

Session: House leaders announced that the House would not, in fact, be returning next week. Leader Hoyer said that after consulting the House Attending Physician, leadership made the decision to not open back up the next week. The Senate is still scheduled to be in session next week. However, Republican and Democratic senators have been pressuring Senate leadership to reconsider. D.C. is currently under a stay-at-home order, and Maryland and Virginia have similar orders in place. Speaker Pelosi has advised members to keep their schedule flexible and said that the House may meet during weeks previously scheduled as District Work Periods.

Appropriations/NDAA: While specific timing continues to be unclear, HAC will likely stick to the original subcommittee order of markups, just shifting everything back. The first markups were slated to begin April 22 but will likely now be at the end of June/beginning of July. SAC has given subcommittees direction to stick with the original plan of marking up all of the bills in June.

This year’s NDAA markup has been “indefinitely postponed”. Reps. Adam Smith and Thornberry (HASC Chair and RM) sent a letter to the committee members saying that they will schedule the date of the markup once the House schedule for the next few months becomes clear. SASC Chairman Inhofe has said he aims to write the FY21 NDAA by the end of May but is flexible considering the circumstances.

Remote voting: After pushback from Republicans, Speaker Pelosi pulled a proxy voting proposal, and instead tasked a bipartisan group to review proposals for proxy voting and procedures to reopen the House. The group includes Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader McCarthy, Chairman McGovern (Rules), Ranking Member Cole (Rules), Chairwoman Lofgren (House Admin), and Ranking Member Davis (House Admin). There continues to be a push for remote voting. The New Democrat Coalition sent a letter on Monday supporting remote voting. The resolution proposed by Chairman McGovern here and includes protocols for proxy floor voting, and remote committee hearings and markups. Rules Majority proxy voting FAQ here. Leader McConnell, as of right now, is not supportive of any form of remote voting. 

Other Floor Action: The House has issued guidance indicated that Floor materials are to be submitted through a secure email address instead of dropped off at the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms. Members are still allowed to drop off materials in person. Speaker’s Dear Colleague on the guidance here

Hearings and Meetings: The House Sergeant at Arms announced yesterday that the Capitol will continue to be in lockdown until May 16. Leader Hoyer has been working with Leader McCarthy to develop an official remote working plan. Under current rules, the House does not allow virtual hearings. Chairman McGovern’s proxy voting proposal would also allow remote hearings and markups.

The Senate Rules Committee Democrats released a one-pager guidance on “paper hearings”, which stated “paper hearings” are not official hearings. The Senate Sergeant at Arms is exploring technology that would allow for remote hearings, though Leader McConnell remains opposed to any form of remote voting. The Senate has advised offices to avoid using the video conferencing app Zoom over data security concerns. The Senate has not yet officially banned the application though.

Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)

Tested Positive (1): Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Currently Self-Quarantined (0):

Recovered (6): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

Completed Quarantine (37): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Other Federal Actions
  • The FDA is hosting a webinar today at 1:00 pm about “Conducting Clinical Trials During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.”
  • President Trump has declared meat-processing plants to be critical infrastructure and ordered them to remain open, as COVID-19 has hit several plants across the country. Across the country, 20 meat-processing employees have died of COVID-19 and more than 20 plants have closed due to the outbreak. Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to require them to stay openThe federal government released new guidance on protecting these workers, which includes a requirement that employers “conduct a hazard assessment” and “select and provide appropriate PPE to protect workers from hazards” as well as guidance on proper use and cleaning. 
  • The CDC continues to update their dashboard. Today, they notably updated the section on Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes. Other updated resources are caring for someone sick at home, guidance for people who need to take extra precautions, and a new page with downloadable videos.
  • NIH announced a new initiative aimed at speeding the innovation, development, and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies. The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative will fund early innovative technologies to develop rapid and widely accessible COVID-19 testing. Working with the CDC, BARDA, and USDA, NIH will seek opportunities to move more advanced diagnostic technologies swiftly through the development pipeline toward commercialization and broad availability.
  • CMS issued a letter thanking clinicians for their ongoing efforts to treat patients and combat COVID-19 and shared additional details on the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) improvement activity. The agency announced earlier this month that clinicians who participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial and report their findings to a clinical data repository or registry can earn credit in MIPS under the Improvement Activities performance category for the 2020 performance period.
  • The IRS has updated their FAQ for Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 1,005,147 and 57,505 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) announced the launch of a free, on-demand training for entry-level COVID-19 contact tracers. The course, Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers, will support ongoing public health agency efforts to prepare new contact tracers for their work of helping identify COVID-19 positive cases and those with whom they’ve been in close contact.
  • Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland (R) issued an Executive Order (EO) requiring universal testing for all residents and staff at nursing homes, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
  • Louisiana’s state legislature is unhappy with Gov. John Bel Edwards’s (D) decision to extend the stay-at-home order. Speaker of the state House of Representatives, Clay Schexnayder (R) said one idea is to override the governor’s emergency declaration.
  • Updates on Lockdowns/Reopening:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced his phased approach for gradually reopening Kentucky's economy starting on May 11th. The text of the plan has not yet been published.
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that he will be extending the state's stay-at-home order.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the creation of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board to help guide the state's re-opening strategy.
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that Arkansas restaurants can reopen their dining rooms starting May 12th.
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced two new EO’s today. The first creates the Governor's Restart and Recovery Commission, a taskforce charged with advising the administration on the timing and preparation for New Jersey's recovery. The purpose of the second order is to reopen the state’s parks, golf courses, and county parks.
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said this afternoon that he plans to allow restaurants and stores to operate at 25 percent of capacity starting Monday. Movie theatres, bars, gyms, and hairdressers will remain closed.
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is now 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.
    • 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
  • The global COVID-19 case total has now reached over 3 million.
  • As mentioned previously, the pandemic is disrupting immunization efforts around the world. It is now being estimated that up to 12 million children will be delayed in receiving their polio vaccinations in Africa, and 41 countries will not receive their malaria vaccines.
  • Calabria, a region in southern Italy, will begin the second phase of its emergency restriction rollback tomorrow. Bars, bakeries, restaurants, and pizzerias will be allowed to open.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will not mandate that meat processing plants remain open. Two plants in Alberta, which combined provide about 70 percent of beef products in the country, have suffered from COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Germany has extended its warning against international travel until June 14th.
  • Spanish authorities sprayed a beach with bleach in an attempt to protect children from COVID-19. The move has caused irreparable damage to the local ecosystem. Authorities have since apologized.
  • Yemen has confirmed its first expansion of COVID-19, a cluster of five cases. This may seem low, but it is a serious threat for a country already dealing with hunger and a cholera outbreak.
  • Ventilators appear to be the newest black market item in Russia. Russian law enforcement officers confronted a gang suspected of trafficking the devices and ended up detaining eight people after a shootout. It was reported last month that wealthy Russians were buying ventilators for their own homes just in case family members caught COVID-19.
  • Border lockdowns around the world seem to have helped stall the trade of illegal wildlife. Conservationists see this as an opportunity to permanently damage criminal networks of traders, but are also wary of an increase in poaching.
  • Global Cases:  3,018,952         Total Deaths:  207,973
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Following the NIH’s announcement of the promising remdesivir trial, the S&P 500 gained nearly 3 percent.
  • The Federal Reserve says it will do whatever it can to insulate the economy as COVID-19 lockdowns continue to inhibit economic growth.
  • According to the Commerce Department, U.S. GDP fell at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter. This is the fastest quarterly decline in a decade.
  • As anticipated, multiple large companies revealed their first quarter earnings today. Microsoft’s revenue saw minimal impact from COVID-19, while Boeing saw nearly a 26 percent decline from last year.
  • The American Federation of Teachers, one of two national teachers’ unions, said it would release a plan outlining the conditions that they expect to be met before they would be comfortable with schools reopening. Within the plan, the Federation asks for 14 days of local cases declining with adequate testing, hand-washing stations at entry points, and the cessation of formal teacher evaluations until there are more established procedures for in-person and at-home learning.
  • Tyson Foods said on Wednesday that it was doubling bonuses, to a total of $120 million, for its 116,000 front-line workers and truck drivers in the United States. The company also said it was increasing short-term disability coverage for employees unable to work because of illness and putting additional health screening measures into place.
  • Lyft says they plan to lay off 17 percent of employees. Executives and Vice Presidents will take significant pay cuts.
  • Volkswagen will not be restarting production at its plant in Tennessee next Monday after all. A new start date has yet to be announced.
  • Argentina and France have both canceled the remainder of their soccer seasons. In Germany, players are back on the pitch, and England, Italy, and Spain all have plans to move forward soon.  
  • 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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