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COVID-19 Update
July 9, 2020
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, 32,856 Iowans have tested positive, up 703 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 350,091 tested. Seven additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 739 deaths. Now 26,217 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

Federal Actions
  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, has established a new clinical trials network that aims to enroll thousands of volunteers in large-scale clinical trials testing a variety of investigational vaccines and monoclonal antibodies intended to protect people from COVID-19. The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN) is a functional unit of “Operation Warp Speed,” a partnership led by HHS to invest in and coordinate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. COVPN is currently looking for volunteers to participate. Read more here
  • OSHA has undertaken a public service messaging effort to remind workers that the agency is committed to ensuring their safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. OSHA is using public service audio announcements in English and Spanish, as well as bilingual digital and print billboard messaging, to encourage employees to contact OSHA with their concerns about workplace safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Billboards will appear in states under federal OSHA jurisdiction. The billboards and announcements are OSHA's latest efforts to educate and protect American workers and help employers provide healthy workplaces as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. OSHA has published numerous alerts and advisories for various industries, including Guidance on Returning to Work, which assists employers as they reopen businesses and employees return to work.
  • On July 15th at 12:15 pm ET, the FDA will host a virtual Town Hall for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for SARS-CoV-2.
  • The CDC announced that, next week, it will issue new guidelines for reopening schools, following President Trump's statement that CDC guidelines should not be the reason schools stay closed in the Fall. 
  • The CDC continues to update its dashboard with new guidance documents and details, and answers to frequently asked questions. The agency has posted guidelines for how to both make and wear cloth face coverings, recommendations for tribal ceremonies, new considerations for events and gatherings, and operational considerations for containing COVID-19 in non-health care settings
  • HHS and the DoD announced an agreement with Regeneron, Inc. of Tarrytown, New York, to demonstrate commercial-scale manufacturing of the company’s COVID-19 investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, REGN-COV2. By funding this manufacturing effort, the federal government will own the doses expected to result from the demonstration project.
  • HHS and the DoD also announced a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax, Inc. of Gaithersburg, Maryland, to demonstrate commercial-scale manufacturing of the company’s COVID-19 investigational vaccine. By funding this manufacturing effort, the federal government will own the 100 million doses of investigational vaccine expected to result from the demonstration projects.
  • The FDA updated the Molecular Diagnostic templates on FDA.gov to provide more detailed recommendations for the validation of assays intended to be used for pooling patient samples. Laboratories and commercial manufacturers may choose to use the Molecular Diagnostic templates to simplify the preparation and submission of an Emergency Use Authorization request for molecular SARS-CoV-2 assays intended for pooling patient samples.
  • The FDA issued a Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers alerting them of an increased risk of a false positive result with BD SARS-CoV-2 Reagents for the BD Max System test. In one study, the manufacturer found approximately three percent (3 percent) of results were false positive results. The FDA is working with Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) to resolve this issue and will continue to keep clinical laboratory staff, health care providers, manufacturers, and the public informed for new or additional information.
  • The following COVID-19 hearing is slated to place in Congress this week:
    • Friday (7/10) 12 PM House Homeland, “Pandemic Response: Confronting the Unequal Impacts of COVID-19.”
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 2,982,900 total cases and 131,065 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. As such, it is assumed the U.S. has reached 3 million cases of COVID-19.
  • In Houston, one of the nation's fastest-growing coronavirus hot spots, more residents are dying before they can make it to a hospital. Medical examiner data shows that an increasing number of these deaths are the result of COVID-19. The number of dead on arrival calls has skyrocketed in the last two months. 
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner canceled the Texas Republican Party's convention, which was originally scheduled for next week. 
  • Average positivity rates in Texas, Arizona, and Florida are all on the rise. 
  • Utah set a single-day record of 680 new cases. 
  • Gov. Phil Murphy (D) advised individuals traveling to New Jersey from additional states with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. The updated advisory includes three additional states, Delaware, Kansas, and Oklahoma, bringing the total to 19 states. The travel advisory applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) criticized President Trump for pressuring state officials to reopen schools this fall, saying the federal government doesn’t have any authority over the matter. “School reopenings are a state decision. Period. That is the law, and that is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the president of the United States,” Cuomo said during a news briefing in Albany. Cuomo said he will announce the state’s decision in August on whether schools will open after thoroughly reviewing public health data and reopening plans from local school districts.
  • The New York State Department of Health issued a 33-page report meant to dispel the notion that its March directive fueled the spread. The report found that infected nursing home workers had transmitted the virus to residents.
  • Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced that her administration, and officials with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, recommend that most local communities again do not move into “Phase Out” of “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” at this time, and instead stay in Phase 3.
  • Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he is hitting pause on the state’s gradual reopening from months of coronavirus lockdown orders after the state’s rate of transmission rose above the key mark 1 for the first time in 10 weeks.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced the extension of the Safe Start proclamation until August 6th.
  • HHS announced free COVID-19 testing in Jacksonville, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Edinburg, Texas. Surge testing efforts will temporarily increase federal support to communities where there has been a recent and intense level of new cases and hospitalizations related to the ongoing outbreak. The three jurisdictions identified are seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and could potentially benefit from additional opportunities to identify new cases, especially for people who are asymptomatic. Testing at the surge locations is available to individuals five years and older – including those experiencing symptoms; those who believe they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; and anyone who is worried about possibly having the virus. Individuals seeking testing do not need to be a resident of the community where these testing sites are located.  Individuals under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian present to consent to testing.
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is tracking which states are reopening and which are still shut down.
    • 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. 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 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
  • Starting July 10th, Scottish citizens can travel to 57 other countries without having to self-isolate on returning. Spain and Serbia have been omitted from the list due to concerns about the prevalence of COVID-19. 
  • The U.S. will officially leave the WHO on July 6th, 2021, according to the U.N.
  • Britain’s finance minister promised an additional 30 billion pounds ($38 billion) to head off an unemployment crisis on Wednesday, funneling money to employers, home buyers, and hospitality firms to drive a recovery.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19. Bolsonaro himself announced the result, speaking on Brazilian TV channels Tuesday. 
  • Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, went back into lockdown at midnight on Wednesday, forcing 5 million Australians to stay home for all but essential business for the next six weeks to contain a flare-up of COVID-19 cases. 
  • Africa surpassed 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases today, according to the latest data released by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • India surpassed Russia yesterday to become the third-worst country affected by the coronavirus, in terms of total infections. 
  • Hong Kong has entered what one health official described as “a third wave” of infections, a huge setback for a city where the COVID-19 death toll remains in the single digits. The health authorities reported 38 new cases yesterday and today, after months in which few or no new daily infections were detected. Most traceable clusters are linked to a nursing home and two restaurants.
  • A New Zealand man who tested positive will face criminal charges after he sneaked out of a hotel quarantine site.
  • Global Cases: 12,066,045       Total Deaths:  550,135
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and private medical practices are all still reporting PPE shortages. 
  •  In its first projections of COVID-19 deaths out to November 1st, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington is forecasting more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S.
  • An early release in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report further examined how COVID-19 outbreaks among meat and poultry processing facility workers can rapidly affect large numbers of persons. Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 (0.5 percent) COVID-19–related deaths. Among cases with race/ethnicity reported, 87 percent occurred among racial or ethnic minorities. Commonly implemented interventions included worker screening, source control measures (universal face coverings), engineering controls (physical barriers), and infection prevention measures (additional hand hygiene stations).
  • A study of more than 17 million people in England adds to reports from other countries that identify older people, men, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions among the more vulnerable populations. The study found that patients older than 80 were at least 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in their 50s, and hundreds of times more likely to die than those below the age of 40.
  • Researchers from the University of Houston, in collaboration with others, have designed a "catch and kill" air filter that can trap the virus responsible for COVID-19, killing it instantly. The system is described in this paper
  • Though working from home has been the normal for a few months, a 35-year-old California woman has sued her former employer, Hub International, a global insurance brokerage firm, saying that she was fired because her young children were making noise during business calls while she was working from home. She is accusing the company of gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.
  • United Airlines said today that it may furlough as many as 36,000 workers, or nearly 40 percent of its staff, starting October 1st if travel remains weak and if too few employees accept buyout or early retirement packages.
  • Walt Disney World in Florida will welcome guests back on Saturday. 
  • The Ivy League announced it will not hold sports during the fall semester, becoming the first Division I conference to suspend its football season because of the pandemic.
  • Wall Street remains unstable as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the U.S. and tension mounts between the U.S. and China. 
  • BIO’s coronavirus pipeline tracker is here, showing all vaccines, antivirals and treatments in development for COVID-19.
  • 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
  • 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.
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 © 2020 Iowa Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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