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COVID-19 Update
April 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.

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 176 additional positive cases for a total of 3,924 positive cases. There have been an additional 842 negative tests for a total of 25,338 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.  According to IDPH, an additional 6 deaths were also reported (96 total).  282 are currently hospitalized, and 1,492 Iowans have recovered. 

The state of Iowa has a dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county, as well as other data.
 
Yesterday at the Governor’s press conference, Governor Reynolds gave statistics on COVID-19 in Iowa. 
  • 11 counties account for 81 percent of all COVID-19 cases, with 5 counties alone accounting for 52 percent of positives. She said 51 counties have 0-4 cases each.
  • Linn county had another outbreak in a long-term care facility for a total of 12 long term care facility outbreaks.
  • Iowa has 96 deaths total, due to COVID-19.
  • 85 percent of deaths are older or elderly adults. 51 percent were residents of long-term care facilities.
She touted Test Iowa, the large-scale assessment and testing initiative she rolled out this week, and said in just two days over 121,000 Iowans have done the assessment. Testing appointments for this weekend are full. Many more Iowans qualify for testing than slots are available, but she said they will be scaling up operations next week to expand testing. They are looking at setting up temporary testing sites so everyone that qualifies gets tested. She also answered questions about the assessment process. Online access is necessary for the assessment. She urged every Iowan to take the assessment at www.testiowa.com.
 
She fielded a question about serology testing. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, IDPH Director of Public Health and the state's Epidemiologist, said part of what is challenging is that we don’t fully understand what the immunity means. They have started to offer some serology testing in high-risk or outbreak settings only, so far.
 
Governor Reynolds said there’s good news about the flexibility of the $1.25 billion Iowa will receive from the federal Government to respond to COVID-19 and its impacts. She said the CARES Act funding can be used to further fund small business grant program and the backlog of applications they received through the Iowa Economic Development Authority. They will also be looking at other ways to support small businesses and families.
 
She fielded a question about timelines of how she will handle the April 30 expiration of her disaster proclamation that ordered many businesses to close. She said they are looking at data and drilling down on when to reopen the economy. The state must reopen in a responsible manner. She was speaking with the Restaurant Association yesterday afternoon, regarding some of their recommendations on reopening the state. There are concerns about regional reopening and its effects on businesses.

Federal Actions
  • Following the Senate’s passage of an interim emergency relief fund package yesterday, the House voted in favor of the bill yesterday (all in masks and gloves). President Trump is expected to sign it into law soon. The legislation includes $310 billion to replenish the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses ($50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion for the Emergency Economic Injury Grant program), $75 billion in emergency funds for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing.
  • The Trump Administration released a new toolkit for states to help accelerate adoption of broader telehealth coverage policies in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). The toolkit will help states identify policies which may impede rapid deployment of telehealth services, such as pediatric considerations, coverage and reimbursement policies, and technology requirements.
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced the availability of more than $13.2 billion in emergency funding to support continued learning for K-12 students impacted by COVID-19. Education leaders will have flexibility to use these funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs.
    • State education agencies (SEAs) must allocate 90% of their ESSER funds to local education agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools, in proportion to the amount of FY 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
  • New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Members, led by NDC Housing Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), sent a letter to the federal financial and housing agencies asking them to take steps to stabilize and simplify the mortgage market during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The Treasury Department released an updated FAQ document about the PPP and said they will continue to add to it as more questions arise about the program and distribution of funds.
  • On April 29th from 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm ET, the FDA will host a virtual Town Hall for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for SARS-CoV-2.
  • The CDC added 15 new or updated resources to its dashboard today, including guidance for interim infection prevention and control for veterinary clinics (timely because of the two infected pet cats), information about people who should take extra precautions, and updated public service announcements.  
  • No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 828,441 and 46,379 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that more than 21 percent of around 1,300 people in New York City who were tested for coronavirus antibodies this week were found to have them.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) of California said Thursday that the state had experienced its “deadliest day” since the start of the pandemic, with 115 COVID-19 deaths.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the state’s public K-12 schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year. 
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through the end of May, with some additional modifications.
  • Reopening Updates:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she will lift the ban on elective medical procedures beginning May 1st.  
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) detailed a plan for a gradual three-phase reopening of the state’s economy. 
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced restaurants and retail outlets in a majority of the state’s counties will be able to reopen at half their capacity as early as next week, provided they follow certain guidelines.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced plans to reopen places of worship and some businesses this weekend and early next week as part of a phased reopening of the state.
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced a three-part plan to reopen the state and extended the current stay-at-home order through May 8th.
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced a four-phase reopening of Idaho’s economy.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) outlined the plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced his plan to reopen the state’s economy.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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
  • According to the WHO situation report, Japan updated its reporting for COVID-19 deaths to include both confirmed cases as well as cases whose “data matching and verification are in progress” which presumably corresponds to suspected COVID-19 deaths. The notable increase in number of deaths reported from Japan can be attributed to this change.
  • WHO has published guidance “Addressing Human Rights as Key to the COVID-19 Response.” The guidance document highlights the importance of integrating a human rights-based approach into the COVID-19 response and highlights key considerations in relation to addressing stigma and discrimination, prevention of violence against women, support for vulnerable populations, quarantine and restrictive measures, and shortages of supplies and equipment.
  • The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has launched a GOARN COVID-19 Knowledge hub. The hub is designed as a central repository of quality public health information, guidance, tools, and webinars which can be accessed freely at any point.
  • The death toll from COVID-19 is likely 15 times higher than what is being reported, according to recent analysis. The country’s death rate has fallen following the lockdown put in place in March.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the governors of the country’s 16 states against loosening restrictions on public life too quickly, saying that it could jeopardize the nation’s ability to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control.
  • At least one person has died after police confronted looters at a supermarket in Venezuela, where the pandemic and a dire economic crisis have left millions in desperate need of food. The death was the latest sign of the escalating civil unrest gripping the country in the second month of a national lockdown ordered by President Nicolás Maduro.
  • Despite Iranian leaders having significantly lessened their dependence on foreign purchases of Iran’s oil, it remains a key industry for a country with the third-largest reserves among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
  • Ukraine is struggling to control COVID-19 outbreaks in several medieval monasteries that hold the relics of saints, because worshipers continue to risk infection to visit them. Police this week sealed the gates of the Pochaiv monastery, a 13th-century cluster of churches in western Ukraine that is a traditional pilgrimage site for the sick.
  • After new outbreaks started popping up, Chinese officials have imposed new travel restrictions in some northern parts of the country. Harbin, a city of 10 million in northeastern China, and multiple other cities in the region are preventing outsiders from visiting neighborhoods and warning residents to stay away from high-risk areas.
  • The leaders of the E.U. agreed today to make plans for a recovery fund to help rebuild their battered economies. The European Commission has been tasked with drafting a proposal that balances their competing demands. Southern European countries (led by Italy and Spain) are calling for a recovery fund of more than a trillion euros that will be able to extend grants to nations rather than loans.
  • Kenya has vowed to arrest and isolate about 50 people who escaped from a COVID-19 quarantine center in Nairobi.
  • The Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam, will be closed to the public throughout the fasting month of Ramadan to stem the spread of the coronavirus, in what scholars believe is the first time in centuries that it has been shut to Muslims during the holiday.
  • Global Cases:  2,544,792         Total Deaths:  175,694
Lifestyle and Economy
  • Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor released new information indicating that more than 4.4 million individuals filed initial claims for unemployment. While this number is a decrease from the previous week, it brings the national total to approximately 26 million new claims.
  • Individuals are postponing medical care and procedures, with emergency departments across the country reporting significant decreases in normal patient load. Some clinicians expressed concern that patients may be dying of these conditions at home rather than risking exposure to COVID-19 at the hospital.
  • A report by NPR found racial disparities in New York nursing home deaths. Among the 78 homes the report looked at, seven of the 11 nursing homes with the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths reported 46 percent or greater of “non-white” residents.
  • The Treasury Department asked publicly traded companies to repay loans they received from the recent federal program intended to aid small businesses. 150 public companies ultimately received nearly $600 million in loans this month from the PPP, which was intended to help small businesses keep employees on payroll. Many of the large companies, such as Ruth’s Hospitality Group and Shake Shack, have said they will return the aid they received.
  • The United Automobile Workers Union, which represents more than 400,000 workers, said today that it is opposed to companies restarting auto production next month, saying it is not yet safe for its members to return to work.
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a potential path forward for a national strategy for antibody testing. The report advises an increase in validated, accurate serological tests for essential workers and public health officials.
  • An abstract published in error on the website of the World Health Organization suggested that an experimental antiviral drug, remdesivir, was not helping coronavirus patients in a trial conducted in China. The abstract was quickly removed, but not before Stat, a medical news site, reported the findings. Gilead stocks went down 6 percent before they were able to explain that the trial was terminated because not enough patients could be enrolled.
  • Americans can track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank-account information to get their money faster via direct deposit on a new IRS website.
  • 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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