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COVID-19 Update
May 1, 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 302 additional positive cases for a total of 7,145 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,028 negative tests for a total of 35,552 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.  89 percent of new cases are from the 22 counties under more restrictive social distancing measures.

According to IDPH, an additional 14 deaths were also reported, 335 are currently hospitalized, and 2,697 Iowans have recovered. At this time, 1 in 74 Iowans have already been tested. 
 
Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Reynolds said COVID-19 is here to stay and we need to learn how to live with it. She said 80 percent will experience mild to no symptoms from COVID-19, but that 20 percent of vulnerable Iowans it has proved to be life threatening. She spoke about personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable Iowans, as the state slowly reopens across 77 counties.

Test Iowa testing is being verified at the State Hygienic Lab, and the Governor said she is confident in the results, despite a news story in Utah questioning the accuracy of the tests. The results of Test Iowa will be rolled into the total number of positives reported each day.  

Beth Townsend Director of Iowa Workforce Development spoke about workers returning to work, and exceptions for certain virus-related reasons to continue to receive unemployment and not return to work; However, she cautioned workers being recalled to work not to simply quit without an established reason, or they may lose their jobs and benefits. She said there are some federal benefits that can cover difficult situations where an employee is worried about carrying the virus home.

The Director of IEDA spoke about the small business relief grant program IEDA created. An infusion of 35 million from the federal CARES Act helped additional businesses. The program was developed rapidly to give $24 million to assist more than 1,200 businesses. As of yesterday, a total of more than 2,600 restaurants, breweries, florists, salons, boutiques, gyms and a wide array of other small businesses that line the streets of communities in all 99 counties have been awarded Small Business Relief Grants for a total of approximately $50 million.

This morning at 9:30, IowaBio will host a Legislative Update call to give you an update with Executive Director Jessica Hyland and Sara Allen and David Adelman of Cornerstone Government Affairs, on what we know as session has continued to be suspended. RSVP here to join!

IowaBio Member Highlights

The Cedar Rapids Gazette published a guest column by IowaBio Executive Director Jessica Hyland, discussing the role of Iowa Biotechnology companies and institutions in the fight against COVID-19.

Federal Actions
  • The federal government is reportedly initiating an effort called “Operation Warp Speed” to speed the development and production of countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines. The program will reportedly provide liability protection and funding for vaccine developers. Operation Warp Speed has not officially been announced by the government.
    • It is unclear how much money will be allocated to this program, but the goal is reportedly to manufacture hundreds of millions of treatment/vaccine doses by the end of 2020.
  • The FDA included, under the ventilator emergency use authorization (EUA), a ventilator developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is tailored to treat patients with COVID-19. The ventilator was added to the list of authorized ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors and ventilator accessories under the ventilator EUA that was issued in response to concerns relating to insufficient supply and availability of FDA-cleared ventilators for use in health care settings to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The FDA published Q&A about COVID-19 and pets.
  • The CDC continues to update their dashboard. Today, they notably updated the social media toolkit and guidance for contact tracing. Recently, they updated and published the most recent reopening guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.
  • Betsy DeVos announced today that nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding will be directed to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), as well as institutions serving low-income students to help ensure learning continues during the coronavirus national emergency. This funding is part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing May 6th at 10:00 am on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will be meeting on May 7th at 10:00 am for hearing titled, “Shark Tank: New Tests for COVID-19.” The two witnesses, who were announced this morning, are NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and BARDA Acting Director Dr. Gary Disbrow.
  • CMS announced a new independent Commission that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to COVID-19. The Commission will provide independent recommendations to the contractor to review and report to CMS to help inform immediate and future responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes. This effort builds upon the five-part plan unveiled last April to ensure safety and quality in America’s nursing homes, as well as recent CMS efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 within these facilities. 
  • The Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee released a report studying the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.
  • On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to President Trump advising him to limit the amount of liability businesses could face for spreading COVID-19. The letter warned against overregulating businesses, and should receive positive reception in the Administration.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 1,031,659 and 60,057 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • New Jersey reported more deaths in the last 24 hours than any other state (406).
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) made clear that it is highly unlikely that groups of more than 50 people will be able to gather at any point this summer. She recommended that anyone planning an event with more than 50 people through the summer cancel, postpone, or find a way to celebrate virtually instead.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said starting next Wednesday the New York City subway system will halt service from 1:00-5:00 am each night to allow time for trains to be disinfected.
  • Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a new COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard to aid the state in gauging when and how to best lift the state’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.
  • Armed protesters gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing today in an effort to convince lawmakers to vote against extending the state of emergency.
  • Updates on Lockdowns/Reopening:
    • Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that Arizona's stay-at-home order will be extended to May 15th, with some modifications. The "Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected" policy allows retailers not classified as an essential business to, starting May 4th, operate through delivery service and other means that do not entail in-store sales.
    • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) formally extended Georgia's public health state of emergency through June 12th to continue enhanced testing across Georgia. He also signed an order today requiring medically fragile and elderly Georgians to continue to shelter in place through June 12th.
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) enacted Stage 1 Protocols of Idaho Rebound for opening daycares, youth activities, and places of worship.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced today that he will soon lift the "Stay At Home" order imposed statewide, replacing it with a "Safer At Home" order set to go into effect on May 4th.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) has announced that new public health order effective May 1st will allow gyms, barber shops, hair salons, and other personal care services to reopen under specific operating conditions.
    • Gov. Andy Beshear (D) laid out Kentucky's plan to gradually open business activities, set to allow a variety of business to resume operations May 11th - May 25th.
  • 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
  • Singapore reported 528 new COVID-19 cases, 488 (92.4 percent) of whom are residents in dormitories. Migrant workers living in these dormitories continue to drive Singapore’s accelerating epidemic; however, community transmission outside of these facilities remains low (9 new community cases reported).
  • WHO AMRO/PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne, has urged for vaccination programs to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic: “If we fall behind on routine immunizations, particularly for children, we risk outbreaks, thus overwhelming hospitals and clinics with preventable diseases in addition to COVID-19.” Her full statement is available here.
  • The World Bank is predicting that global poverty rates will rise for the first time in over 20 years. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic lockdowns could land nearly 8 percent of the world’s population in poverty.
    • On a similar note, the top relief official at the United Nations says it will probably take $90 billion in humanitarian aid to protect vulnerable populations from the economic devastation of the pandemic.
  • Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Mishustin made the announcement during a video conference with President Vladimir Putin that was broadcast on national television. He is the highest-ranking Russian official known to have been infected with COVID-19.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to lay out a road map next week for reopening the British economy, schools, and offices, but has not mentioned a timetable for putting it into effect and has expressed concern about reopening prematurely. He listed a set of conditions that must be met, including solving problems in obtaining enough PPE.
  • After Germany began easing its restrictions last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel said today that houses of worship, playgrounds, museums, zoos, and botanical gardens can now reopen. She will not be making any major decisions about reopening schools until after May 6th.
  • France’s government has announced plans to begin easing limits on movement and business on May 11th.
  • Global Cases:  3,274,747         Total Deaths:  233,792
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • The United States Department of Labor announced that an additional 3.8 million new unemployment insurance claims were filed last week. In total, Americans have filed more than 30 million new unemployment claims over the past 6 weeks.
  • Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of remdesivir, released some results from a Phase III clinical trial comparing 5-day and 10-day treatment courses of the drug. The results did not provide any information whether the drug improved patient outcomes compared to a control group. Gilead also noted that the results “complement” forthcoming results from a placebo-controlled trial conducted by NIAID (mentioned in yesterday’s update).
    • The interim results from the NIAID study—a randomized control trial involving more than 1,000 patients—find that patients treated with remdesivir had a shorter time to recovery than those who received a placebo (median of 11 days compared to 15 days; 28 percent improvement). Dr. Tony Fauci described the reduction in time to recovery as “highly significant.”
  • Trade groups including the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service and the National Retail Federation wrote to a letter to lawmakers today urging them to provide relief funds to the United States Postal Services.
  • On Friday, labor organizers from Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Walmart, Target, Shipt (owned by Target), and FedEx say they will walk off the job to strike for better pay, expansion of paid sick leave, access to personal protective equipment, and enforcement of social distancing in the workplace.
  • Researchers from the Northwest Evaluation Association, a standardized testing company, predict students who received limited or no instruction during the school closures from March through August may only retain about 70 percent of their reading progress compared to a normal school year.
  • Airlines are starting to enforce stricter rules around mask use. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced today that they will start requiring all passengers and flight attendants to wear a face covering in the coming weeks. Lufthansa, JetBlue, and Frontier Airlines all made similar announcements earlier in the week.
  • Southwest Airlines said this week that its flight attendants would soon be wearing masks, joining United Airlines, which announced a similar policy late last week.
  • Macy’s announced today that they’ve come up with an ambitious plan to reopen all of its 775 locations, including Bloomingdales and Bluemercury, in the next six to eight weeks. Stores will start opening on Monday in Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • 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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