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COVID-19 Update
January 5, 2021
IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 286,677 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,817 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,369,643 tested. 46 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 3,992 deaths. Now 247,719 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 13.4% the past 7-day average is 11.7%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 582 hospitalized patients.
 
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
 
Currently 44 (of 99) counties are at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
 
The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) published two fiscal update articles on federal unemployment assistance COVID programs:
 

Washington, D.C.
  • BARDA and the NIH are funding the Phase 3 trial of Novavax's investigational COVID-19 vaccine, which has begun enrolling adult volunteers. The randomized, placebo-controlled trial will enroll approximately 30,000 people at approximately 115 sites in the U.S. and Mexico. 
  • President Trump and CDC Director Robert Redfield signed an order requiring air passengers arriving from the U.K. to prove a negative COVID-19 test, via PCR or Antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure from the U.K. to the U.S.
  • HHS and DOD combined to purchase an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer.
  • The FDA published a new toolkit to help stakeholders communicate in English and Spanish about hand sanitizer safety and use during the COVID-19 pandemic. New materials include social media messages and graphics, consumer information, and health professional messaging. Furthermore, a new COVID-19 Communication Toolkits webpage provides links to all FDA toolkits on COVID-19 topics to help everyone communicate accurate and timely information to patients, the public, and health care professionals.
  • In a new FDA Voices entitled, 2020 at FDA: A Year of Unparalleled Contributions to Public Health, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn highlights a few of the FDA’s achievements, many COVID-19-related, from this past year.
  • The FDA published a new infographic, COVID-19 Tests and Collection Kits Authorized by the FDA in 2020, that provides a visualization of the wide variety of tests authorized.
  • As of Dec. 28, 309 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under EUA. These include 235 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 63 antibody tests, and 11 antigen tests. There are 32 molecular authorizations that can be used with home-collected samples. There is one molecular prescription at-home test, one antigen prescription at-home test, and one over-the-counter (OTC) at-home antigen test.
  • The NIH published an in-depth study of how COVID-19 affects a patient’s brain. Researchers consistently spotted hallmarks of damage caused by thinning and leaky brain blood vessels in tissue samples from patients who died shortly after contracting the disease. In addition, they saw no signs of SARS-CoV-2 in the tissue samples, suggesting the damage was not caused by a direct viral attack on the brain. 
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield signed a declaration determining that the evictions of tenants could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Read more about the halt here
  • Here is the most recent COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. (1/4)
  • The most recent COVID-19 Science Update from the CDC is here. (12/22)
  • The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can now also keep track of vaccinations here. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
  • Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) passed away from complications due to COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020. 
  • Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Kay Granger (R-TX) are the most recent members of Congress to test positive for COVID-19. 
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 20,558,489 total cases and 350,664 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • In less than eight weeks, the U.S. has jumped from 10 million to over 20 million COVID-19 cases. Today is the third day in a row the U.S. has recorded more than 200,000 new confirmed infections.
  • New York has become the fourth state to record one million total COVID-19 cases. California has the highest total of any state by far with more than 2.4 million cases, followed by Texas's 1.8 million, and Florida's 1.3 million.
  • A record-breaking 125,544 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with six states –Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas – reporting record hospitalizations on Jan. 3.
  • California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed its review of the federal process and has concluded the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is safe and efficacious for use in the Western States.
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced updates to the state’s vaccine dashboard, which provides daily updates to the number of COVID-19 vaccinations distributed and administered across the state. Hospitalizations across the state have continued to decline in recent weeks since a peak in November, with 36 percent of hospital and ICU beds currently available.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday said hospitals in the state will now face fines of up to $100,000 and potentially lose the opportunity to distribute coronavirus vaccines if they do not step up the pace of inoculations. Approximately 300,000 people across the state have received their first dose of the vaccine thus far.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday warned that Florida hospitals may have future supplies of coronavirus vaccine reduced if they do not administer doses quickly enough. Long lines have formed when some county health departments in the state opened vaccination sites on a first-come, first-serve basis, and appointment hotlines and websites have been overwhelmed with demand – the Florida Department of Health’s own website crashed on Monday. So far, about 80 percent of Florida’s vaccine doses have been distributed to hospitals across the state.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an EO that authorizes out-of-state pharmacists to administer vaccines in Minnesota during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that he has directed the Connecticut Department of Public Health to add Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to the state's ongoing vaccination program following a recommendation from the governor's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group's Science Subcommittee that it be authorized in the state.
  • Gov. Lamont also signed an EO authorizing the continued temporary suspension of requirements for licensure, certification, or registration of out-of-state health care providers.
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced New Mexicans may now order free, at-home, self-administered COVID-19 saliva tests, with accurate laboratory-confirmed results returned within 24 to 48 hours of receipt of the sample. The free tests are available to New Mexico residents regardless of exposure risk.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced the state will make available at-home COVID-19 saliva collection kits to every resident in the state, regardless of COVID-19 symptoms, at no cost.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the state has opted into the federal COVID-19 Pharmacy Partnership. At no cost to the state or local government, CVS and Walgreens will administer the Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care facilities.
  • Gov. Newsom also released California’s State Safe Schools for All plan, a framework to support schools to continue operating safely in person and to expand the number of schools safely resuming in-person instruction.
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he will lower the state’s risk level for COVID-19 from high risk (orange) to moderate risk (yellow), increasing capacity limits for restaurants, bars, and social gatherings. Beginning Friday, bars, restaurants, and other food service businesses will be allowed to operate at 65 percent capacity, rather than 50 percent, and banquet, ballroom, and event venues, which have been limited to 25 percent capacity, will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. A statewide mask mandate will remain in effect until Jan. 18. North Dakota’s 14-day rolling average positivity rate has decreased from 16 to 4.4 percent since Nov. 17.
  • Several governors extended COVID-19 emergency declarations. Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) formally extended a state of emergency declaration another 30 days to confront community spread of COVID-19; New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) extended the state's public health emergency for 30 days; and Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) extended a state of civil emergency declaration through Jan. 20.
  • Gov. Murphy also signed an EO postponing New Jersey’s upcoming February fire district elections, March special school elections, and all other special elections for filling vacancies to Apr. 20.
  • Gov. Mills also announced the extension of a statewide order for certain businesses to close by 9 PM.
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended his modified Phase Two order, which includes a statewide mask mandate, through Jan. 13.
  • Several states issued extensions to bans on evictions. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), and Gov. Lamont all signed EOs on eviction moratoriums.
  • Gov. Inslee announced a one-week extension of his "Stay Safe–Stay Healthy" proclamation, which will now expire on Jan. 11, and issued a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone returning to the state from the U.K., South Africa, and other countries where a new coronavirus variant has been identified.
  • Gov. Inslee also updated a proclamation and guidance for houses of worship, weddings, and funerals. Currently, houses of worship are permitted to hold indoor services with up to 25 percent room capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. The 200-person attendance cap, previously a requirement, is now a recommendation in response to recent court rulings.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R), and Govs. Murphy, Lamont, and Mills announced an extension of the suspension of interstate youth hockey competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey leagues through at least Jan. 31.
  • Useful state data:
    • 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. NPR's map can also be used to monitor you state's heat wave. 
    • NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
    • This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
Science, Lifestyle, and Economy
  • The number of inmates and guards known to have been infected with COVID-19 at American correctional institutions has now exceeded 500,000.
  • Moderna said it will produce at least 600 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine in 2021, up by 100 million from its previous forecast.
  • More than fifteen million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and 4.5 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
  • BioNTech and Pfizer warned they had no evidence their vaccine would continue to work if the booster shot was given later than tested in trials. They said the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules.”
  • In an attempt to limit the threat of coronavirus among teams, the N.C.A.A. announced an agreement Monday to hold its signature men’s basketball tournament entirely in Indiana in March and early April.
  • The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.3 million travelers Sunday, marking yet another pandemic travel record.
  • Sandra Lindsay, director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, became the first person in the U.S. to complete a two-dose coronavirus vaccine course on Monday, 21 days after she was given her initial dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 14.
  • The Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative today announced a new resource designed to address healthcare professionals' questions about COVID-19 vaccination. The videos which feature an introduction from Dr. Anthony Fauci–include experts from a diverse coalition of leading healthcare organizations and medical institutions sharing information around COVID-19 vaccine development and safety with their fellow physicians and nurses.
  • Two more studies show contracting COVID-19 prevents against future infection for 6-8 months. The studies, one from Oxford University and the other by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, are the latest in a series of medical findings that have shown getting COVID-19 provides temporary immunity from reinfection, the Associated Press reported.
  • Sixty percent of nursing home staff in Ohio have refused to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The University of California, San Diego has installed vending machines on campus where students and staff can pick up self-administered COVID-19 test kits. To use the kits, which are free, test takers use the swab outdoors and return the vile within 72 hours, for results in less than two days.
  • Some Chicago Public Schools teachers expected to report to the classroom ahead of preschool students’ anticipated return next week have stayed home over coronavirus concerns. The Chicago Teachers Union opposed the nation’s third-largest district’s plans to bring students back in phases.
  • The Greek Orthodox church has announced it will defy government lockdown orders aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and open places of worship to mark Epiphany on Wednesday.
  • Pope Francis on Sunday criticized people who have been traveling abroad for leisure during the pandemic, saying he was disappointed by their lack of consideration for others.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. 
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
International Affairs
  • Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
  • Britain became the first country in the world to begin distributing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday morning, with an 82-year-old Oxford native receiving the first shot just steps from where it was developed. The vaccine, approved in the U.K. on Dec. 30, was shown to be up to 90 percent effective after two doses.
  • Denmark on Monday approved a lag of up to six weeks between the first and second shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, although the vaccine is meant to be given in two doses three weeks apart. Germany and Ireland are considering similar policies.
  • Indian health regulators on Sunday approved two COVID-19 vaccines – a homegrown coronavirus vaccine called Covaxin and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Phase 3 clinical trials for Covaxin were not completed before the vaccine was given the green light, prompting concern from some medical experts.
  • Though India intends to help supply coronavirus vaccines to the developing world, the head of its largest manufacturer said on Sunday that the country will not allow the export of the doses overseas for several months, because vulnerable people living in India will receive priority.
  • Israel, which has inoculated a higher proportion of its population against the coronavirus than any other country, is delivering shots so quickly it is outstripping its supply of vaccine. While the U.S. vaccination rate is around 1 percent, Israel has reached 12 percent of its residents with the initial dose.
  • China has begun a nationwide drive to vaccinate some 50 million front-line workers against the coronavirus before the country’s Lunar New Year travel rush next month.
  • Spanish doctors and health experts have expressed frustration at the slow start to the country’s campaign to inoculate people, with only a few tens of thousands vaccinated since the E.U. approved a vaccine two weeks ago.
  • Several countries in West Africa are facing surges in COVID-19 infections as prospects for robust vaccination programs dim. Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Togo have all recorded significantly higher numbers of COVID-19 cases over the last month, close to or at record levels. The African Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said countries across the continent will not receive nearly enough vaccines through the global Covax agreement to vaccinate 60 percent of the continental population.
  • Ireland’s hospitals cannot manage the current trajectory of its COVID-19 outbreak and will cancel most non-urgent procedures this week to create as much spare ICU space as possible.
  • England will enter its toughest nationwide lockdown since March, with schools and non-essential shops closed and people allowed to leave home just once a day for exercise until at least Feb. 15. Currently, people must only leave home for work, if it is impossible to work from home, and for essential food and medicine.
  • Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new lockdown on Monday that will last until at least the end of January. People must stay home beginning at midnight except for essential reasons. Most students will move to remote learning until at least February. Beginning Friday, houses of worship will close, with exceptions for weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, and funerals.
  • Beginning Thursday, Catalonia will ban people from leaving their municipalities, close gyms and shopping centers, and allow only essential shops such as pharmacies to open. The restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 17.
  • Austria has scrapped plans to allow anyone with a negative COVID-19 test to exit the country’s lockdown a week early, effectively extending strict measures and keeping restaurants and non-essential shops closed until Jan. 24.
  • Lebanon has announced a full lockdown for three weeks, including a night curfew from 6 PM to 5 AM, to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals while the country faces financial meltdown. Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.
  • Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha urged people to stay home amidst a surge in COVID-19 infections. In the capital of Bangkok, schools, bars, entertainment venues, and gyms must close. Restaurants are allowed to serve food until 9 PM.
  • Authorities in Tokyo, Japan on Monday requested that restaurants and bars close by 8 PM. The Japanese capital recorded a record high of 1,337 cases in one day last week. Companies have been encouraged to allow employees to work from home, and universities have been asked to move classes online.
  • Strict measures have been imposed in several regions in the north of China, where officials are conducting mass tests, sealing off villages where there have been confirmed infections, and limiting entry into certain districts. Health authorities reported 33 new COVID-19 cases and 40 asymptomatic cases, which the country does not designate as confirmed cases, in mainland China on Monday. Beijing has begun vaccinating adults under 60, using the state backed Sinopharm vaccine.
  • Hong Kong has suspended all in-person classes until Feb. 15.
  • South Korea on Saturday expanded a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to the whole country and extended restrictions on in-person classes, karaoke rooms, bars, and other high-risk facilities until Jan. 17.
  • Schools fully reopened across Kenya on Monday for the first time in nearly 10 months.
  • Cambodia will begin to lift strict lockdown rules that have been in place since a small cluster of COVID-19 infections was detected in November.
  • Australia has initiated mass testing drives in its two most populous states, South Wales and Victoria, where small COVID-19 outbreaks have emerged.
  • People traveling to New Zealand from the U.S. and U.K. will now be required to show a negative COVID-19 test before departure and take a test upon arrival and on days three and 12 of their mandatory quarantine. The country’s border remains mostly closed to non-citizens.
  • Global Cases: 85,783,178    Total Deaths: 1,855,872
Helpful Articles/Media
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 © 2021 Iowa Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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