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COVID-19 Update
May 5, 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 534 additional positive cases for a total of 9,703 positive cases. There have been an additional 3,441 negative tests for a total of 47,458 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 85 percent of new positive cases are in the 22 counties where restrictions remain in place.  According to IDPH, an additional 4 deaths were also reported (188 total deaths), 389 are currently hospitalized, and 3,486 Iowans have recovered. At this time, 1 in 55 Iowans have been tested. 

Yesterday at her press conference, the Governor said the test result reporting lag in the Test Iowa program is temporary and due to high volume as well as the ongoing validation process. She urged those awaiting results to stay home until they know their results. The backlog should be alleviated by today, she said. She also stressed that Test Iowa, which consists of an online assessment at www.testiowa.com that can lead to getting a test, is only one tool, and to call your physician if you are ill. Governor Reynolds announced a third Test Iowa site opened in Sioux City.
 
The Governor touted surveillance testing strike teams and the work they have done. They help contain and manage the spread and provide reassurance to businesses and long-term care facilities. They are trying to get in front of businesses and long-term care facilities where the virus can spread easily. They are utilizing serology testing on these strike teams, in addition to regular testing, to understand more information about the spread of the virus. There has been the first positive case at a DHS facility, Woodward Resource Center.

Later this week, she will discuss her economic task force, which will help with the state’s reopening, moving from stabilization, to recovery, and to economic growth again.
 
Federal Legislation

Supplemental IV – CARES 2.0. / Phase 4

Timeline: We could see a bill released as soon as later this week or sometime next week. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that she would like to get a House vote done by May 15, which shortens the window for introduction. Even if the House passes a bill by Pelosi’s deadline, it will likely be a while before the Senate moves, as Republicans are waiting to see how things play out. It will likely take some time for a deal to be struck and Republicans could require another trigger like SBA PPP funding running out again. Passage is at least a couple more weeks away, with the final passage coming in late May/early June.

Process/Politics: All reports indicate that House Democrats will move first– there doesn’t seem to be a lot of drafting going on in the Senate currently, though it is entirely possible Republicans release their own draft after seeing what House Dems introduce. Senate Democrats have been working closely with House Democrats on sharing priorities. This process may be more grinding than past supplementals as the divide between Republicans and Democrats seems to be growing.

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. Committees have drafted their pieces and passed them along to leadership. The bill will likely be broader than 3.5 and more tailored to COVID-19 than the bill Speaker Pelosi introduced before Senate passage of CARES.

One of the main debates has been on funding for state, local, and tribal governments, including the overall funding level and how it will be distributed. In a press conference last week, Speaker Pelosi seemed to open the door a little bit in terms of acknowledging that money should be focused on COVID response as opposed to blanket funding.

The other heated debates occurring is over liability protections. Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy have indicated that any bill that goes forward must have liability protections for employers. What Republicans’ vision of what that entails exactly remains murky, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a liability plan that may offer some insights. Highlights include:
  • Safe-harbor from certain health privacy requirements to allow reopening/contact tracing;
  • Protection from anti-discrimination rules, as employers may use age or underlying health conditions to make reopening decisions;
  • Clarify scope of OSHA requirements on providing PPE to all employees;
  • Safe-harbor for temporary workplace policy changes, limit application of the WARN Act;
  • Protection against exposure claims (i.e. if a customer/employee is exposed to COVID-19 at a business facility and as a result of the business’s action (or lack of), the individual becomes sick);
  • Expansion of products covered under the PREP Act for product liability purposes;
  • Expand CARES Act medical liability to all healthcare providers/facilities;
  • Automatic stay of securities litigation related to COVID-19 pandemic until President’s public emergency declaration is rescinded;
  • MOU between DOJ and SBA on hold - harmless language for financial services providers helping to distribute PPP loans.
Democrats have pushed back on inclusion of a liability shield, pointing out that lawsuits serve as a deterrent to companies from taking actions that risk harm. Some Democrats have pointed out that there are concerns around federalism as torts and contract laws are generally under the domain of states. There is also the concern that a blanket liability shield could incentivize risky behavior and force employees to return to work environments that are unsafe. Notably, the CARES Act included two minor liability provisions: one related to volunteer health care workers and another related to respiratory devices. Democrats have indicated that they would oppose a broad liability shield, as proposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More moderate Democrats have indicated that they are open to negotiation on this, with some form of a liability shield being included, but targeted in scope.

Other Democratic priorities include rural broadband (there’s some bipartisan acknowledgment and support for investing in broadband, as schools try to figure out distance learning), housing relief, small business funding, hospital support, healthcare and frontline worker support (Heroes Fund), another round of individual payments, SNAP, student debt relief. A standalone infrastructure bill will likely come later this year, though broadband infrastructure may be the exception to this rule and be included in Phase 4, as distance learning and telemedicine become more essential and has bipartisan appeal.

Yesterday, the Financial Services Committee released its priorities for CARES 2. Text here. Highlights include:
  • Monthly direct payments to adults ($2,000) and children ($1,000);
  • Rental and Mortgage relief through:
    • $100 billion to establish an Emergency Rental Assistance Fund and $75 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund,
    • Extending eviction/foreclosure moratorium to renters/borrowers;
    • Creation of liquidity facility for mortgage services and landlords until payments resume;
  • Direct the Federal Reserve to purchase bonds from tribes, territories, multi-state agencies, cities of 50,000+, and counties with 100,000+ population;
  • Creation of liquidity facility to support nonprofits;
  • Requirements of corporations that receive government assistance (provide paid sick leave, eliminate Treasury’s ability to waive conditions, ban stock buybacks);
  • Forgiveness of $10,000 in student debt for six million private student loan borrowers;
  • $1 billion to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund;
  • Prohibiting debt collection during the pandemic.
Last week we saw priorities and proposals from the Congressional Black Caucus, the Rural Broadband Task Force, and the Republican Study Committee.

Other Legislation to Watch:

Last week, Chairman Wicker (Commerce) and others announced plans to introduce a privacy bill specifically focused on privacy issues related to COVID-19. The Committee plans to formally file the bill early this week and is still receiving feedback before moving forward. No plans for a hearing currently.

Passed Legislation

Implementation Information and Guidance

New information/guidance:
  • 5/4 – Treasury released an updated FAQ on the Paycheck Protection Program. FAQ here.
  • 5/3 – Treasury and SBA released a data set for the most recent tranche of P3 funds. Data here.
  • 5/1 – Treasury updated the Coronavirus Relief Fund FAQ to clarify permissible uses. FAQ here.
Previously Reported Implementation Information and Guidance

Small Business Loans & Treasury Main Street Lending
  • 5/4 – Treasury released updated FAQ on the Paycheck Protection Program. FAQ here.
  • 4/30 – IRS issued guidance that most expenses funded by forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are non-deductible for federal income tax purposes.
  • 4/30 – Federal Reserve released the term sheets and other information relating to its expansion of scope and eligibility of the Main Street Lending Program. Term sheets and other information here. Other information on other facilities and programs here.
  • 4/29 – SBA announced that from 4:00-11:49pm on 4/29, 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.
  • 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 (updated 4/29)
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 5/1 – As part of the $100 billion dedicated to hospitals and health providers in CARES, HHS is distributing funding to “hotspot” hospitals and providers early next week. HHS will be distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020. $2 billion of the funding will be distributed based on low-income/uninsured data (Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments). Money will go out Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
    • These 395 hospitals accounted for 71 percent of COVID-19 inpatient admissions reported to HHS from nearly 6,000 hospitals around the country.
    • A $10 billion rural distribution will include, rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers located in rural areas.
    • Hospitals and RHCs will each receive a minimum base payment plus a percent of their annual expenses. This expense-based method accounts for operating cost and lost revenue incurred by rural hospitals for both inpatient and outpatient services. The base payment will account for RHCs with no reported Medicare claims, such as pediatric RHCs, and CHCs lacking expense data, by ensuring that all clinical, non-hospital sites receive a minimum level of support no less than $100,000, with additional payment based on operating expenses. Rural acute care general hospitals and CAHs will receive a minimum level of support of no less than $1,000,000, with additional payment based on operating expenses. Money also expected to be sent via wire Tuesday/Wednesday.
  • 4/27 – Outline of the Provider Relief Fund with additions from COVID 3.5 here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 4/23 – 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.
  • 4/23 – 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.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
  • 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.
Economic Stabilization
  • 4/30 – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the FAA will begin awarding the AIP and other discretionary grants funding through the CARES Act. Press release here. Complete list of grants here. Map of airports receiving funding here.
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
  • 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.
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 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.
  • 4/22 –  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.
  • 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.
Oversight
  • 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)
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.

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.

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: The Senate returned Monday, with multiple nominations and hearings set on the calendar. The House intends to come back next week. Leader McCarthy released a memo outlining a four-step plan to reopening the House. The House will not return to a normal voting schedule for quite some time. Members will continue to be called back to vote as deals are struck, but likely not a long time before. This is expected to continue over the next few months, as the House considers, in addition to COVID-related packages, appropriations, NDAA, FISA, Flood Insurance, WRDA, surface transportation reauthorization, etc. However, some committees may call their members back even when no floor activity is scheduled.

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. Committee staff and members are working to find a way to move forward. When markups occur will depend on when the House returns and even then, the overriding feeling is to focus on passing the next package and then turn to FY21 markups. Per previous reports, once markups get underway, it will likely be a rapid-fire process with the committee’s goal to have all 12 cleared and reported from subcommittee and full committee in a 2-3 week span.
 
Majority and minority staff have been discussing how to space out members appropriately during markups and using larger hearing rooms. 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 is looking to markup NDAA 2021 the week of June 8, with the goal to have a bill to floor before the 4th of July recess.   

Remote voting: A bipartisan group in the House is reviewing 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 last week 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: While the House will not be in session next week, the Senate will be holding various hearings. Only the Chair and Ranking Member will be permitted to be in the room and other members will be participating virtually. Senators are being trained on how to use the technology this weekend.

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

Tested Positive (0):

Currently Self-Quarantined (0):

Recovered (7): 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), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

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 announced updates to its March 16th policy on commercial manufacturers’ serology tests (antibody tests) for COVID-19. Under the new policy, FDA expects commercial manufacturers to submit Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) requests, including their validation data, within 10 days of the updated policy publication date, or the date they notify FDA of their test validation, whichever is later.
  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH is funding a study to help determine the rate of COVID-19 infection in children and their family members in the U.S. The study, called Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS), has started to enroll patients. HEROS will help determine what percentage of children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, develop symptoms of the disease. In addition, the HEROS study will examine whether rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection differ between children who have asthma or other allergic conditions and children who do not.
  • An internal report in the Trump Administration projects about 200,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths each day by the end of the May/beginning of June. So far, no agency or department has claimed authorship over the document that contained the new projections.
  • The Senate has returned to D.C. (with skeleton staffs) and are jumping right in with hearings. The slated COVID-19 hearings are:
  • Last week, the CDC launched the SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology and Surveillance (SPHERES), a new national genomics consortium to coordinate SARS-CoV-2 sequencing across the U.S. Large-scale, rapid genomic sequencing of the virus that causes COVID-19 will allow public health experts to: monitor important changes in the virus as it continues to circulate; gain important insights to support contact tracing; provide crucial information to aid in identifying diagnostic and therapeutic targets; and advance public health research in the areas of transmission dynamics, host response, and evolution of the virus. The agency has since updated SPHERES information on the CDC dashboard.
  • Over the weekend and into today, the CDC continued to update and publish additional documents on its dashboard, including updated guidance for community and faith-based organizations, new general business FAQ, information about contact tracing training and guidance, further information for pediatric health care providers, and guidance for the discontinuation of isolation for people who have COVID-19 but do not work in health care settings.
  • You can view CMS’s overview of recent COVID-19-related actions here.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 1,152,372 and 67,456 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
  • Over the weekend, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Gov. Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a joint multi-state agreement to develop a regional supply chain for PPE, other medical equipment, and testing.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order creating the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability within the State Budget Office.
  • Updates on lockdowns/reopening:
    • Gov. Cuomo outlined the core factors New York will be monitoring to decide if they can start reopening as well as new safety precautions businesses must put in place.
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has accelerated his phased reopening plan for the state. Barbershops and salons can resume services starting this Friday if they limit occupancy, implement social distancing measures, increase sanitation protocols, and provide cloth masks to employees. Next Monday (May 15th) restaurants can offer dine-in service.
    • Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia said the state will begin reopening on May 15th as part of phase I of the reopening plan, which could last two to four weeks. Nonessential businesses, for now, are still required to be closed until May 14th.
    • New Hampshire's original stay-at-home was set to expire today, but Gov. Chris Sununu (R) placed a Stay-at-Home 2.0 order in effect until May 31st.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced today that wellness facilities and drive-in movie theaters will reopen starting May 11th.
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced he would be taking steps to reopen restaurants and outdoor activities.
  • 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
  • May 5th, is World Hand Hygiene Day. In observation of the day, UNICEF is mobilizing global RCCE partners to scale up handwashing outreach for COVID-19 prevention and Operationalization of the interim recommendations on obligatory hand hygiene against transmission of COVID-19.
  • More than a dozen countries began lifting social distancing restrictions today.
  • Markets and malls will reopen in Israel on Thursday, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Additionally, citizens will no longer be required to remain within 100 meters of their homes, and gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted, as well as weddings of up to 50 people. Kindergarten and daycares will open on Sunday, and sports and leisure facilities will gradually reopen by mid-June. PM Netanyahu said all of this is dependent on cases remaining on a downward trend.
  • In India, businesses, local transportation, and activities like weddings are allowed to resume in areas that have minimal or no known infections. Liquor stores were also allowed to open today, which led to massive crowds. India is anticipating more of these occurrences as their lockdown has been one of the most serious in the world.
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the country’s state of emergency through the end of the month.
  • Four Chinese companies have started testing their vaccine candidates on humans.
  • World leaders have pledged a total of $8 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines against COVID-19. The E.U., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Spain, and the UK co-hosted a virtual pledging conference today.
  • New Zealand continues to be a symbol of success and recently reported no new cases of COVID-19. Because of this, and because Australia has also proven to have tackled COVID-19 head-on, the two countries are in talks of a “travel bubble,” to allow individuals to travel between the two countries without quarantining.
  • Global Cases:  3,600,106         Total Deaths:  251,910
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • So far in the second round of PPP loans, about 2.2 million applicants have been approved, with an average loan size of $79,000. In the first round of funding, large, publicly traded companies received a large amount of the funding meant for small businesses. According to a recent report, publicly traded companies have since given back more than $375 billion of those federal stimulus loans.
  • Costco is now limiting the amount of meat customers can buy at once as production in the meat industry slows after widespread illnesses in slaughterhouses across the Midwest and South. Beef, pork, and poultry products are “temporarily limited to 3 items” per member.
  • Air Canada announced a new program, Air Canada CleanCare+, which consists of mandatory preflight infrared temperature checks, blocking the sale of adjacent seats, capping the total number of passengers allowed on each flight, requiring employees and passengers to wear face coverings, and removing pillows and blankets from the planes. The airline company will also begin using hospital grade disinfectant in their sprayers and will give kits with hand sanitizer to passengers.
  • The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reported that, for the first month ever, renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, and wind, supplied more power to the electric grid than coal-fired plants.
  • Carnival Corporation said today that it plans on allowing eight of its ships to start cruising again before the end of the summer. Carnival has canceled service on many of its lines through September, but will look to offer cruises from three total ports in Texas and Florida as early as August 1st.
  • Tim Bray, an Amazon Cloud VP, quit this weekend over the company’s firing of workers who had protested against inadequate workplace safety measures. In his public explanation, Bray said he had quit “in dismay,” and criticized a number of recent firings by Amazon, including that of an employee in a Staten Island warehouse, Christian Smalls, who had led a protest in March calling for the company to provide workers with more protections.
  • After Warren Buffet announced he would be shedding his airline stock, the shares of the four biggest U.S. airlines — Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines — tumbled.
  • J. Crew filed for bankruptcy yesterday, becoming the first major retailer to do so.
  • The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro had a face mask projected on it this weekend with text on its torso which read, “#MascaraSalva” (masks save).  
  • 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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