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COVID-19 Update
April 17, 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.
 
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 146 additional positive cases for a total of 2,141 positive cases. There have been additional 660 negative tests for a total of 18,543 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. According to IDPH, an additional 7 deaths were also reported, 175 are currently hospitalized, and 987 Iowans have recovered. 
 
The state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state is now providing demographic information that was not previously provided as well as Iowa’s epidemiological curve.
 
At her press conference yesterday, the Governor unveiled a new plan for expanded testing. “Test Iowa” will ramp up to 3,000 tests per day. She will share additional test information next week. Antibody tests will also be available, and this will help target response and provide more information about the virus in Iowa. Dr. Caitlin Pedati IDPH Medical Director, said we are still learning about the virus and are not certain what having antibodies means for immunity, for example how long immunity lasts. She said the additional testing data will help everyone better understand the virus in Iowa.

Dedicated strike teams of nurses will be deployed to large manufacturing production businesses and long-term care facilities. Increasing surveillance and contact tracing will be a focus, as well as prevention.

The data says RMCC region 6 is at a level 10 on a scale of 1-10. They are employing additional mitigation measures in region 6. The Governor put in place additional restrictions such as gathering only with immediate family for that region which includes:  Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties,. The full proclamation can be read here.

The Governor said there are two additional long-term care facilities have experienced outbreaks, for nine total long-term care outbreaks. They are also concerned with another meat processing plant in Waterloo that might be experiencing an outbreak.

IowaBio Member Highlights

The food supply chain is critical, and during this time, member company Cargill has focused on adapting to necessary changes, and supporting local food banks, while continuing to provide an essential service to the world: delivering the food, feed, and ingredients that nourish people and animals. Cargill said in a recent statement: “During this unprecedented time, we are working around the clock with farmers and our customers – the world’s food retailers and service providers – to continue feeding the world safely, responsibly and sustainably. We remain confident in the dependability of our global food system.

Disruptions in Cargill’s food supply chains have been limited, as our hard-working employees continue to operate safely in our facilities. We are prioritizing our employees’ health and well-being, as they are essential in delivering the food we all need to stay healthy and nourished. This includes additional precautions to support staff at our production facilities, including temperature testing, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, prohibiting visitors from entering our facilities, prohibiting international travel, limiting domestic travel, adopting social distancing practices and offering shift flexibility to keep our major production facilities open.

We are working differently, but the values that have enabled Cargill to meet previous global challenges remain unchanged. Our commitment to doing the right thing, putting people first and reaching higher will continue to guide every decision we make.

These values extend beyond our business operations, to the communities where we live and work. Vulnerable children and families around the world are facing food insecurity at unprecedented levels, and those needs are only heightened with widespread school closures. Working with nonprofit partners, we are supporting local foodbanks and developing emergency food boxes to address these nutrition needs. Our businesses are also making contributions to support local and regional COVID-19 relief efforts in communities around the world.
 
Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by the virus, especially those who are sick and under medical care. We are inspired by the contributions of medical professionals, first responders, workers, and farmers in our communities whose selfless efforts are helping ensure that people and animals around the world are cared for and their essential needs are met. Cargill’s 160,000 employees in 70 countries offer our thanks and continued support.”

Federal Actions
  • The White House released guidelines for Opening Up America Again. The guidelines recommend that states document a “downward trajectory” in cases of COVID-19 and flu-like illnesses before relaxing stay-at-home orders. States could then proceed into a three-phase reopening process, according to the guidelines. The guidelines recommend that employers develop and implement social distancing practices, temperature checks at workplaces, testing for the virus, and increased sanitation and use of disinfection. President Trump said today that governors could begin reopening businesses, restaurants, and other elements of daily life by May 1st or earlier.
  • The President also hosted a call with a bipartisan group of members of Congress who will serve on the “Opening Up America Again Congressional Group.” The list of members can be found here.
  • The FEMA Healthcare Resilience Task Force created a COVID-19 Hospital Resource Package. The document contains guidance and resources for hospital administrators, hospital emergency planners and infection control practitioners in the following topical areas: hospital surge, crisis standards of care, staffing surge and resilience, workforce protection, regulatory relief, equipment supply surge and telemedicine.
  • The CDC has posted multiple new guidance documents on its COVID-19 dashboard, including considerations for pharmacies, guidance for training for healthcare professionals and the newest travel guidelines.
  • The CDC plans to hire hundreds of contact tracers, whose job it would be to locate individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. Contact tracing has been pushed by the vast majority of public health experts as a necessary step in reopening the country. Additionally, the CDC is considering transferring 25,000 Census Bureau workers to do contact tracing over the next few weeks and months. The census workers, who had been hired to go door to door collecting household data for the 2020 Census, would turn to contact tracing for up to two months.
  • There are multiple upcoming CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) calls and webinars. Registration is not required. View the schedule here.
  • The FDA announced a further expansion of COVID-19 testing options through the recognition that spun synthetic swabs – with a design similar to Q-tips – could be used to test patients by collecting a sample from the front of the nose.
  • The FDA is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma for a potential new treatment called convalescent plasma.
  • The latest CMS news updates can be viewed in the daily roundup.
  • OSHA has come under fire as thousands of complaints are flooding in against companies who fail to follow social distancing and sanitary guidelines to protect workers, and the agency has done little to mitigate it. Records show worker concerns about shortages of masks and gloves, of being forced to work with people who appear sick, and of operating in cramped work areas that prevent them from standing six feet from one another. OSHA has yet to issue a specific coronavirus standard for employers that would protect many “essential” workers, leaving employers to come up with their own ways of trying to meet health guidelines.
  • NIH recently conducted a study that showed N95 respirators can be decontaminated effectively and maintain functional integrity for up to three uses. The experiment tested four decontamination methods: vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), 70-degree Celsius dry heat, ultraviolet light, and 70 percent ethanol spray. Of those, VHP was the most effective decontamination method, because no virus could be detected after only a 10-minute treatment. UV and dry heat were acceptable decontamination procedures as long as the methods are applied for at least 60 minutes. 
  • The House and Senate will both remain recessed until May. House and Senate leadership continue to engage in negotiations about additional supplemental funding packages (COVID 3.5, COVID IV, and COVID V), particularly now that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding has run out, but nothing has been formally agreed upon or introduced.
  • Reps. Neal Dunn (R-FL), 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 of Congress to have tested positive for COVID-19 (or be presumptive positive).
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 632,548 and 31,071 deaths  The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • Following the demonstrations in Lansing, Michigan, crowds also formed in Frankfort, Kentucky and Raleigh, North Carolina to protest against stay-at-home orders. Protests are reportedly being planned in California, Oregon, and Texas as state-wide orders negatively impact the economy.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s shutdown would be extended until at least May 15th.
  • Multiple other governors, including Wisconsin’s Tony Evers and Idaho’s Brad Little, also extended stay-at-home orders, which are available in multiple state data sets below.
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to be ravaged by COVID-19. In New Jersey, 17 bodies were found in a nursing home morgue intended to hold no more than four people.
  • Johns Hopkins University launched its newest 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.
  • Useful state data:
    • These charts show cumulative coronavirus cases and deaths for metropolitan areas over time.
    • 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
  • British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has assumed the duties of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from COVID-19, announced a three-week extension to the current lockdown. Mr. Raab set out five prerequisites for easing restrictions: a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates; confidence that hospitals can cope with the flow of patients; increased testing capacity; more PPE; and a judgment, with input from government health experts, that there would not be a second wave of infections.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a national emergency today, giving governors the authority to call on businesses to close and residents to stay inside.
  • Hospitals in Canada are reportedly beginning to stockpile used N95 respirators and other PPE, in the event they need to be sterilized and reused. As the global demand for respirators remains high (or possibly increasing), health systems around the world are looking for alternate solutions to supplement existing supply chains. Hospitals across the country are evaluating prospective options for decontaminating various types of PPE, in the event they are unable to procure supplies in the future. Several techniques have been documented for decontaminating respirators; however, they are not yet in widespread use. Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam recommended that hospitals start retaining used PPE, including N95 respirators, in case they can be disinfected in the future. Reportedly, supply-related challenges increased after the United States restricted the export of certain supplies.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed a military parade and flag-waving celebrations marking the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
  • The WHO published an update to its COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Among the changes is a new section that includes guidance regarding conditions and considerations that should inform decisions regarding efforts to relax existing social distancing measures. The document emphasizes that countries must eliminate or maintain low levels of community transmission in order to contain the pandemic and that community transmission necessitates “exceptional measures” to rapidly suppress it. Notably, the WHO explicitly states that the decisions regarding implementing and relaxing social distancing measures should be made at the lowest levels of government to ensure “a tailored and appropriate response depending on the situation and capacities to respond.” The guidance outlines 6 principal considerations and capacities to consider in order to maintain suppressed community transmission.
  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has fired his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta. Mandetta had previously won widespread public support by advocating broad-based social isolation in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization and many other medical and scientific experts.
  • Singapore announced a record jump in coronavirus cases with most of the 447 new confirmed cases coming from crowded dormitories for migrant laborers.
  • Kenyans held in quarantine on the Kenyatta University campus in the capital, Nairobi, have protested over being held for long periods even after testing negative for the coronavirus and finishing 14-day quarantines. Some said they were presented with bills in order to be allowed to check out.
  • Greece will move 2,380 of the most vulnerable asylum seekers from overcrowded camps on the Aegean Islands to less cramped facilities on the mainland to curb the risk of an outbreak. The relocation is expected to take around two weeks and will start after the Greek Orthodox Easter this weekend.
  • A news article published by Nature discusses emerging reports that the Chinese government is providing direct oversight of scientific publications related to COVID-19 research.
  • The majority of China’s reported COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks have been imported from other countries, as opposed to the result of local transmission. The journal China CDC Weekly published an assessment of the country’s risk of importing COVID-19 cases from various countries and regions, based on existing public data on national and sub-national COVID-19 incidence around the world. China has reported 1,101 total imported cases of COVID-19 (through April 8th), including 262 in the previous week. Among the recently imported cases, 125 (47.7 percent) were imported via land border crossings from Russia. China CDC also reported the proportion of imported cases by region: 77 percent from Asia, 8 percent from Europe, 6 percent from North America, 5 percent from Oceania, and 2 percent from Africa.
  • Global Cases:  1,991,562               Total Deaths:  130,885
Lifestyle and Economy
  • Early research on underlying health conditions associated with COVID-19 is indicating that asthma is not one of the most important risk factors as originally predicted. Obesity, however, appears to be one of the most important predictors of severe illness. Data released this month by New York State shows that only about five percent of COVID-19 deaths in New York were of people who were known to have asthma. 
  • Former Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) hosted a mock remote hearing today with dozens of other former Congressional members and witnesses from Zoom Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Former Head of the CIA, Gen. David Petraeus, was also in attendance.
  • Weekly jobless claims and first time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 5.245 million, a decrease of 1.37 million from last week. Over 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks. A Federal Reserve Bank president has predicted that quarterly unemployment could hit 30 percent, which would spiral 15.4 percent of Americans into poverty for the year.
  • The stock market saw a small boost today, led for the most part by the tech industry. The Dow and S&P 500 both closed with posted increases, though neither gained a full percent. Netflix and Amazon each saw increases of more than 2.5 percent.
  • Americans can track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank-account information to get their money faster via direct deposit on a new IRS website.
  • 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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