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COVID-19 Update
April 8, 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 Reynolds announced her COVID-19 press conferences will be held going forward Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m. on Governor Reynolds’ Facebook Page and YouTube.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 102 additional positive cases for a total of 1,048 positive cases, extending to three new counties for a total of 78 counties. There have been an additional 1,017 negative tests for a total of 11,670 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the Iowa State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 1 death of an elderly adult (61-81) was also reported.

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431. 

At Governor Reynolds' press conference yesterday, the National Guard provided an update on the role they are playing in the response to COVID-19. that they have delivered PPE to all 99 counties to keep the PPE pipeline to points of need across the state, as soon as it arrives in the state. They have established a center in each of the six healthcare regions in the state, to support healthcare providers, with resources like information sharing, open beds, healthcare staffing and other healthcare resources. Governor Reynolds walked through how the six regions track patients and resources, and can reallocate resources and even move patients of they need a higher level of care.

She fielded questions from the press on numbers of projected cases. They are working toward a model, by examining existing models and transition into a model/forecast for Iowa. There will be analysis of existing models this week. There is not a firm projection of when they will have the new model. Iowa currently has three long-term care center outbreaks.

IowaBio Member Highlights

IowaBio members continue to step up to help combat the virus and support those affected.
  • GSK announced a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to develop vaccines to combat coronaviruses including Sars-CoV-2.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb announced an expansion of its patient support programs to help eligible unemployed patients who have lost their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • McKee Voorhees and Sease has several attorneys volunteering to staff the COVID-19 hotline (1-800-332-0419) created by Iowa Legal Aid, the Iowa State Bar Association and Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. This hotline was setup to help Iowans tackle legal issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was announced by Governor Kim Reynolds. In addition, MVS is providing 100 meals, prepared by the Main Street Café in Ankeny, to the Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines to feed those on the front lines of fighting this virus.
Latest on the Virus
  • Yesterday, the FDA approved an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for 200mg hydroxychloroquine tablets. The agency had recently posted information about hydroxychloroquine shortages due to a significant surge in demand, and is working with manufacturers to get supply under control.
  • Seven Yale University affiliates published an article in Social Science Research Network (SSRN) making the case for the universal adoption of cloth masks and policies to increase the supply of medical masks for health workers.
  • Multiple companies have announced blood-based immunoassay research in an effort to identify antibodies to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus associated with COVID-19. The goal of this new series of research is to help clinicians determine if an individual has been infected by the virus and therefore has developed an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
    • This article explains why researchers are researching antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients as a possible means for treatment and prevention.
Federal Actions:
  • At yesterday’s White House press briefing, President Donald Trump criticized the WHO for being slow to respond to the pandemic and accused the organization of being “China-centric.” He followed that by saying the U.S. will be putting a hold on giving money to the WHO.
  • President Trump removed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who had been tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion stimulus package spending. In his place, the President has named the EPA’s inspector general, Sean O’Donnell, as the new acting inspector general for the DoD.
  • The CDC released several new guidance pages and resources yesterday including: PPE burn rate calculator, guidelines for running essential errands, interim additional guidance for outpatient and ambulatory care settings, and more.
  • The FDA continues to update its COVID-19 Q&A page here and has published its April 7th roundup here.
  • CMS announced it has delivered near $34 billion in the past week to frontline health care providers battling COVID-19. The funds have been provided through the expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.
  • CMS also posted a letter to clinicians that outlines a summary of actions CMS has taken to ensure clinicians have maximum flexibility to reduce unnecessary barriers to providing patient care during the pandemic. The summary includes information about telehealth and virtual visits, accelerated and advanced payments, and recent waiver information.
  • CMS Administrator Seema Verma said that $30 billion of the $100 billion for hospitals will be released this week. Award amounts will be based on an individual hospital’s Medicare revenue and will be disbursed by a simple direct deposit to the hospital. If the hospital is not set up to receive a direct deposit, there will be a simple registration process. The money will not be first come first serve.
  • FEMA is issuing a temporary rule to allocate certain scarce or threatened materials for domestic use, so that these materials may not be exported from the U.S. without explicit approval by FEMA. The rule covers five types of PPE, outlined in a statement released yesterday.
  • Federal officials have begun releasing detained immigrants who are thought to be at high risk of contracting COVID-19. ICE has instructed its field offices to identify individuals who are considered particularly vulnerable, such as those over 60 or pregnant. A spokesperson said the agency had identified 600 such detainees, and that 160 have been released.
  • Congress, despite being recessed, is preparing for a fourth COVID-19 supplemental funding package. “CARES 2” is being led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is aiming to have legislation on the floor during the week of April 20th. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the next supplemental will be similar to the recently passed CARES Act, with focuses on small business assistance, unemployment benefits, direct payments to individuals and families, and additional funding for public health. The bill will likely include significant plus ups to programs outlined in CARES and provisions from the Pelosi bill from two weeks ago.
  • Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other members of the COVID-19 Task Force the 4/6 White House press briefing are available here.
  • No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) remain the only members to test positive (or be presumptive positive) at this point. Five other members are in self-quarantine.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 374,329  travel-related: 1,669 “close contact”: 6,847 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting.
    • The CDC is reporting 12,064 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • Wisconsin residents headed to the polls today after yesterday’s efforts to push back their election day were squandered. Individuals were voting on the Democratic presidential primary and a pivotal state Supreme Court seat, and many people expressed their disappointment that they were being forced to choose between their health and voting. 
  • Yesterday, Vice President Pence led a discussion with the chief executives of approximately 50 States, territories, and Washington, D.C., and their state emergency managers and health officials to provide an update on the “all-of-America” approach to respond to and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. A readout from the teleconference is available here.
  • New York and New Jersey both posted record high death counts in the last 24 hours. New York’s one-day death toll of 731 is higher than their previous highest rate by more than 100. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed out that, despite the high number of deaths, the number of hospitalizations has gone down, which is a promising indicator. In New Jersey, 232 people died in 24 hours. Combined, the deaths in New York and New Jersey make up more than half of all virus-related deaths in the U.S.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy did a live Q&A about the state’s response to COVID-19.
  • During a press conference this afternoon, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced a new MEMA website where businesses in Mississippi can offer resources to those in need. The website states it “provides disaster-specific communications from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to industry associations and those registered members to coordinate private-sector businesses. It connects those who need resources with Mississippi resource providers during response and recovery from an emergency or disaster event.”  MSBEOC is open to any Mississippi business or organization and there is no cost to join.
  • Experts have warned that other states are on pace to have epidemics as serious as that in New York. These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • 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 through May and can be broken down by state.
International Affairs
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is carrying out the prime minister's duties in his absence, said Johnson was "receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance. He's not required any mechanical ventilation."
  • The months-long lockdown in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, has been lifted. Anyone who has a "green" code on a widely used smartphone health app is now allowed to leave, for the first time since January 23rd. Approved residents will be able to use public transport if they are also to provide a QR code for scanning. The code is unique for each person and links to their confirmed health status.
  • Southern EU nations, led by Italy and Spain, have accused northern nations, led by Germany and the Netherlands, of not providing enough financial support to combat COVID-19 in poorer countries. Italy, Spain, France, and some other EU states want to share out coronavirus-incurred debt in the form of "corona bonds" (or eurobonds) - mutualised debt that all EU nations help pay off.
  • Moroccans who venture outside their homes without wearing face masks risk prison sentences of up to three months and a fine of up to $126.
  • Latest figures show 10,238 people have died from COVID-19 in France since March 1st. In the past 24 hours, 607 deaths were recorded in French hospitals. Director of Health Jérôme Salomon has said the country has not yet reached its peak.
  • Turkey ordered everyone to wear masks when shopping or visiting crowded public places, and said it would deliver free masks to every family.
  • Nearly 60 percent of people on an Aurora Expeditions cruise ship off the coast of Uruguay tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 217 people on board, many are from the U.S., Australia, and Europe.
  • Italian authorities said today that there were 3,039 new cases and 600 deaths in a 24-hour period, bringing the totals to 135,586 and 16,523 respectively. Italy hasn’t seen such a low daily number of COVID-19 cases since the early weeks of the outbreak.
  • Global Cases:  1,279,722               Total Deaths:  72,614  
Lifestyle and Economy
  • COVID-19 is impacting African Americans at significantly higher rates than any other racial group across the U.S. In Louisiana, even though only one-third of the population is black, 70 percent of people who have died are black. In Chicago, where less than a third of the population is African American, more than half of individuals with COVID-19 and 72 percent of people who have died from the virus are black. In addition to having more underlying health conditions that magnify the effects of COVID-19, black Americans are also more likely to be denied testing and treatment. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams addressed the issue more thoroughly this morning.
  • After starting the day up by quite a bit, the Dow ultimately dropped about 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 fell by about 0.2 percent.
  • 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.
  • The WHO, Lady Gaga, and Global Citizen have announced a concert that will air on Saturday, April 18th titled “One World: Together at home.” This globally televised and streamed special will highlight unity among all people affected by COVID-19, celebrate the brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work, and raise funds for the response. More information is available here.
  • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found here (music), here (tech), here (general), and here (sports/entertainment).
Featured Resources
  • VIRTUAL Update Sponsored by PhRMA and BIO on the Biopharmaceutical Industry’s Commitment to Beat Coronavirus

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

    2:00 to 3:30 PM CST (note, the time was incorrectly put in last Friday’s issue as EST time)

    In these unprecedented times, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are coming together to achieve one shared goal: beat COVID-19. The decades-long investments biopharmaceutical companies have made in technology, research and treatments have prepared us to act swiftly. We all have a unique role to play and are confident that together we can be successful.

    Please join us for a discussion on the biopharmaceutical industry’s most recent efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.

    Dial-in information will be shared with those who RSVP, on Wednesday, April 8th.

    Please click here to RSVP to the event.
     
  • There is a lot of confusion on how it all the COVID-19 relief programs works together, Dickinson law is planning a valuable webinar April 8 at 10:00 a.m. on the relief options available under the CARES Act and how they interact with the Families First Emergency Leave options. Link to register: Webinar: COVID-19 Relief Options and Your Business
  • The American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Academy of Medicine is hosting a series of webinars to explore the state of the science surrounding the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. and globally, with a focus on the emerging evidence on how to best mitigate its impact. The transcripts of webinars 1 and 2 are available here, as well as a link to webinar 3 on April 9th at 12:30pm.
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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