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COVID-19 Update
May 26, 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

Governor 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

The coronavirus dashboard was shut down over the long weekend for routine maintenance, and the Governor’s office released COVID-19 data in press releases instead. The dashboard is back up and running normally. These statistics will show the reported data and change since our last report on Friday morning. Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 17,644 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,300 from our update Friday morning, with a total of 134,505 Iowans tested.  43 more deaths were reported since our update Friday, bringing the total to 461 deaths.  Now 9,401 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.

At her press conference Friday, Governor Reynolds announced the opening of new Test Iowa sites this week in Burlington, Marshalltown and Sioux Center. The Sioux City site closed May 22.

Federal Legislation
Supplemental IV – The Heroes Act (HR 6800)
Timeline/Process/Politics: Republicans continue to assert that they will wait a few more weeks before taking up another coronavirus supplemental. The timeline may compact as Senate Republicans get more nervous about electoral possibilities and McConnell faces pressure from more vulnerable members of his caucus. Additionally, the impetus of negotiations may be a climbing unemployment rate and a White House that wants to win reelection – when the Senate returns in the beginning of June, McConnell may be facing a whole batch of dismal economic statistics.
 
Policy: The Heroes Act passed the House last Friday, May 15, but Leader McConnell has indicated that they won’t be considering the bill as a base for negotiations. The bill nonetheless outlines Democratic priorities (to a certain extent). Heroes Act text (as of 5/12/2020) here. Section by section here. One pager here. State and Local one pager here. NCAI’s summary on tribal provisions here. Manager’s amendment here. House Rules Committee report here.
 
While Senate Republicans continue to workshop liability protection provisions, Senate Democrats released a proposal outlining their health priorities for the next package. Senators Shaheen, Smith, Wyden, and Murray took the lead in assembling though it enjoys broad support from the Democratic caucus. The proposal mainly focuses on provisions to increase access to health care coverage and reduce out-of-pocket costs. The proposal mirrors priorities reflected in the Heroes Act passed by the House. Proposal here. Highlights below:
  • Removes income cap on premium tax credits and increases the percentage of premiums credits will cover (Sen. Shaheen’s Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act – press release here);
  • Provides temporary elimination of the repayment burden of excess advance premium tax credits (bill led by Sens. Van Hollen and Cardin – press release here, one pager here, text here);
  • Ensure coverage for all costs for COVID-19 treatment;
  • Provide a two-month special federal enrollment period (Sen. Casey proposal);
  • Restore funding for marketplace outreach/enrollment support (Sen. Shaheen’s MORE Health Education Act – press release here, text here);
  • COBRA subsidies for those recently unemployed (Sen. Durbin is leading the effort – press release here, letter here);
  • Increase incentives for states to expand Medicaid (Sen. Warner’s SAME Act – press release here, text here);
  • Overturn Administration rules that have promoted health care plans that do not cover essential health benefits/discriminate against those with preexisting conditions (Sen. Baldwin’s No Junk Plans Act – press release here, note that the House has already passed its companion legislation);
  • Rescind guidance allowing states to waive ACA consumer protections (Sen. Warner’s Protecting Consumers with Preexisting Conditions Act – press release here, text here).
Legislation to Watch
Last Thursday, the Senate hotlined a Rubio-Cardin-Collins-Shaheen bill similar to the Phillips-Roy bill the House intends to vote on next week. The bill aims at giving businesses with PPP loans flexibility on the 8-week spending deadline and proportion of loan limited for non-payroll expenses. The hotline didn’t clear, but there were rumors of Sen. Gardner or another Republican attempting to move it by UC for political purposes. As the bill is similar to the one the House expects to vote on this week, the Senate could take it up again soon. Text here. One pager here. Highlights below:
  • Extends the deadline to apply for a PPP from 6/30/2020, to 12/31/2020;
  • Allows borrowers a full 16 weeks to use funds, extending it from 8 weeks;
  • Expand use of funds to include PPP and investments in safety for reopening;
  • Clarify the lender hold harmless provision.
Highlights of the Phillips-Roy bill the House intends to vote on next week below. Press release here.
  • Allow loan forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period.  
  • Remove the limitation that restricts non-payroll expenses (rent, utilities) to 25% of the loan. 
  • Eliminate limitations that restrict loan terms to 2 years. 
  • Allow businesses that take PPP loans to be eligible for payroll tax deferment.  
  • Extend the rehiring deadline to align with the enhanced Unemployment Insurance to offset its effects. 
Passed Legislation
New Implementation Information and Guidance
  • 5/21 – There is still $100 billion remaining to be disbursed to health providers. The next batch of funding will likely focus on Medicaid providers who have not received any funding to date (many of which may be pediatric and dental practices) and potentially high Medicaid DSH hospitals. Subsequent tranches may focus on safety net (serve high number of uninsured) hospitals.
Previously Reported Implementation Information and Guidance
Small Business Loans & Treasury Main Street Lending
  • 5/20 – In reviewing the PPP loan forgiveness application, our team has found some information that may prove useful to organizations receiving PPP loans. Information below:
    • In determining the forgiveness amount, the SBA will forgive the LESSER of three things:
      • The total of the following:
        • Payroll costs incurred or paid during the Covered Period or Alternative Payroll Covered Period PLUS
        • Amount of mortgage interest payments paid during Covered Period on real or personal property on an obligation incurred prior to 2/15/20 PLUS
        • Amount of business rent or lease payments for real or personal property paid during covered period pursuant to agreements in place prior to 2/15/20 PLUS
        • Amount of business utility payments paid during the covered period for business utilities for which service began before 2/15/20 MINUS
        • Any salary/hourly wage reduction amount required (this calculation is spelled out in the application) MULTIPLIED BY
        • FTE Reduction quotient (this calculation is spelled out in the application).
      • The PPP loan amount.
      • Total Payroll costs divided by 0.75.
    • The covered period begins on the date the loan proceeds are disbursed to the borrower.
    • In some portion of the loan forgiveness calculation, the application requires the borrower to use the Covered Period. In other portions of the loan forgiveness calculation, certain borrowers can choose the Covered Period of the Alternative Payroll Covered Period. Those borrowers with a biweekly (or more frequent) payroll schedule can elect to calculate eligible payroll costs using the 8-week period that begins on the first day of their first pay period following the PPP loan disbursement date. Those borrowers who choose the Alternative Payroll Covered Period for payroll calculation MUST apply the Alternative Payroll Covered Period whenever there is a reference to that or Covered Period – i.e., they must apply it consistently throughout the loan forgiveness calculation.
  • 5/16 – SBA released updated information on PPP and EIDL loans from both CARES and COVID 3.5 rounds of lending. EIDL COVID-19 Loan data here. PPP Data here.
  • 5/15 – Treasury released the loan forgiveness application for businesses that have received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Application here.
  • 5/11 – SBA released updated PPP statistics, including recent state by state information here.
  • 5/8 – SBA’s Inspector General released a report on the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program. The report found the Administration’s administration of the program did not align with the law in four ways: prioritization of underserved/rural markets, loan proceeds eligibility for forgiveness, guidance on loan deferment, and registration of loans. Report here.
  • 5/7 -- The Washington Post reported that the SBA has imposed a new loan limit on the department’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), moving the loan limit from $2 million to $150,000. The department also announced that it would only be accepting applications from agricultural businesses onward.
  • 5/6 – Treasury released an updated FAQ for the Paycheck Protection Program. FAQ here.
  • 5/3 – Treasury and SBA released a data set for the most recent tranche of P3 funds. Data here.
  • 4/30 – The IRS issued guidance that most expenses funded by forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are non-deductible for federal income tax purposes.
  • 4/30 – The Federal Reserve released the term sheets and other information relating to its expansion of scope and eligibility of the Main Street Lending Program. Term sheets and other information here. Other information on other facilities and programs here.
  • 4/29 – SBA announced that from 4:00-11:49pm on 4/29, SBA systems would only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. The move was aimed at ensuring access to the PPP loan program for smaller lenders and their customers.
  • 4/28 – SBA announced it would no longer accept PPP loan applications submitted by robotic processing systems.
  • Treasury released an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program on how lenders will calculate loan amounts for employers with seasonal employees. Rule here.
  • 4/24 – SBA issued a procedural guidance on participation sales here.
  • 4/24 – SBA released an interim final rule on requirements for Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation, and Eligibility. Interim Final Rule here. Additional eligibility criteria and requirements for certain loans here.
  • 4/24 – Data on Economic Injury Disaster Loans here, EIDL Advance here.
  • 4/23 – The Treasury Department asked all publicly traded companies that received funds under the program to return the funds within two weeks.
  • The Treasury Department released an interim final rule on the small business provisions in the bill. See here for a memo Cornerstone put together on the interim final rule.
  • Treasury FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program
    • Top-line overview of the program here
    • Lender information here, Borrower information here, borrower application here
State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding
  • 5/20 – Tribes have begun to receive instructions for responding to Treasury’s second data request last night. An email from Treasury should have gone to whomever at the Tribe submitted Treasury’s first data request. The portal closes at 11:59 p.m. Alaskan time on Tuesday, May 26.
  • 5/15 – In a court document filed Friday, Treasury indicated that it will open a portal this week for tribes to submit information outlined in last week’s data request. Tribes will have five business days to submit the data (expected submission deadline is May 26). Treasury expects to process the data and determine allocations within a week of the submission deadline (by June 4). Treasury will disburse payments one business day after Treasury has finished computing amounts. In a call today, Treasury indicated that they will hold back funding for Alaskan Native Corporations (ANCs). Treasury also explained that the data request for employees should include both government employees and tribal-entity employees, while the expenditure data should only include government expenditures.
  • 5/14 – Treasury issued a data request to disburse the second round of funding for tribes in the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The data request includes information on employees and expenditures. Portal will likely open sometime next week. More information here.
  • 5/12 – Treasury released its list of payments to states and qualifying localities for the Coronavirus Relief Fund. List here.
  • 5/8 – Treasury still has a remaining $3.2 billion to distribute among tribes and plans plans to submit a new data request soon, with a portal open soon after. The next round of funding will be based on employment and expenditure data of Tribes and tribally-owned entities.
  • 5/5 – Treasury released distribution details regarding the tribal portion of the Coronavirus Release Fund. The first 60% of the fund will be distributed to tribes based on population used in the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) and will include a floor of $100,000. The remaining 40% will be distributed based on the number of individuals employed by the Tribe, including employees of tribally owned entities. Treasury still needs to collect and verify employment data before distributing the second round of funding. Amounts for ANCs will not be distributed, as litigation is still pending. Press release here. Details here.
    • More than a dozen tribes have sued the Treasury Department over its guidance identifying Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as eligible entities for the fund. Last Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin said that the department would not be releasing funding until Tuesday, April 28 – two days after the deadline outlined in the CARES Act. The court on Monday preliminarily enjoined Treasury from disbursing funds to ANCs.
  • 5/5 – Treasury released an updated FAQ regarding distribution of CARES Act state/local funds. FAQ here.
  • 4/27 – USDA announced that Kansas and Virginia have been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
  • 4/22 – Treasury issued guidance on the state/local/tribal governments fund here. The guidance further defines what expenses qualify as “necessary expenditures” and provides examples as well as examples of ineligible expenses.
  • 4/13 – Treasury launched its web portal for payments to state, local, and tribal governments. Treasury announced that eligible government entities must provide required information by Friday, April 17 to receive payment within the 30-day window allowed under CARES and those that miss that deadline may not receive funding. Submission page here. Some highlights from the announcement below:
    • Funds are only allowed to be used for expenses which
      • Are necessary expenses during the coronavirus emergency,
      • Were not accounted in the most recent budget (as of March 27, 2020), and
      • Were incurred between 3/1/2020 – 12/30/2020.
    • Eligible local governments are those below the state level (county, municipality etc.) with a population higher than 500,000. See here for data sources and the distribution methodology.  See here for a list of eligible local government units.
    • Amounts paid to governments will be based on population and the amounts allocated to states will be reduced by the total amount provided to local governments in the state. 
Oversight
  • 5/18 – The Congressional Oversight Commission (COC) issued its first report. The Commission was created by the CARES Act to conduct oversight of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve’s implementation of Division A , Title IV , Subtitle A of the CARES Act, which provided $500 billion for Treasury and the Federal Reserve for loans and loan guarantees to the airline industry, businesses critical to national security, and medium-sized businesses through lending facilities. Report here. Cover letter here.
  • 5/7 – The remaining members of the House Select Committee on Coronavirus Crisis were named. Minority Whip Scalise’s priorities for the committee here. Full Committee membership below:
    • Chair Jim Clyburn (D-SC) – Chair
    • Maxine Waters (D-CA)
    • Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
    • Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
    • Bill Foster (D-IL)
    • Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
    • Andy Kim (D-NJ)
    • Steve Scalise (R-LA) – Ranking Member
    • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
    • Rep Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
    • Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
    • Rep. Mark Green (R-TN)
  • 4/29 – Speaker Pelosi announced the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
Public Health Systems, Education, and Healthcare
  • 5/20 – HHS announced that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has provided $225 million to Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing. The funding came from COVID 3.5 (formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act”). Press release here.
  • 5/18 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced nearly $77 million in a fourth wave of CARES Act funding, supporting up to 8,300 additional vouchers. Provided through HUD's Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program, this wave of relief funds will provide affordable housing to non-elderly people living with disabilities. Press release here.
  • 5/13 – HRSA announced the winners of $15 million in telehealth grants that were authorized through the CARES Act. Press release here. Awards here.
  • 5/1 – As part of the $100 billion dedicated to hospitals and health providers in CARES, HHS is distributing funding to “hotspot” hospitals and providers. HHS will be distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, 2020. $2 billion of the funding will be distributed based on low-income/uninsured data (Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments).
  • 4/27 – Outline of the Provider Relief Fund with additions from COVID 3.5 here.
  • 4/27 – Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million in discretionary grant funds will be available for states to use to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to COVID-19. The grants will be funded through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • 4/26 – CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program (AAP) and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. Press release here.
    • The announcement came as a surprise to Democrats, who were actively negotiating with the department officials on modifying the program.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on how the next $60 billion in the health relief fund will be distributed. HHS has committed that it will send out an additional $60 billion dollars in the coming weeks, much of it coming within the next 10 days.
  • 4/23 – As part of negotiations on 3.5, the Administration made commitments on changes to Medicare advance payment policies. The administration committed that, by the end of this week, Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows will release a letter stating that they will:
    • Use their administrative authority to reduce the interest rate down from what is currently 10.25 percent to a rate that is more in line with a traditional federal interest rate.
    • Use their administrative authority to extend the repayment period beyond 12 months.
    • Work with Congress and support legislation in Corona 4 that will place the liability for these payments in Treasury’s General Revenue fund, rather than the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Funds. The expansion of these programs must not adversely affect Medicare’s solvency or result in premium increases for seniors.
  • 4/22 – CARES Act Provider Relief Fund overview here. State by state breakdown of first payment here.
  • 4/9 – Secretary DeVos indicated that she would be moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in CARES for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The grants can be used by college students for technology, course materials, food, housing, and healthcare. DeVos distributed the funding to colleges, which are meant to then distribute the aid among students. See here for the specific allocations for each college.
Individual and Business Tax Relief
  • IRS guidance on deferral of payroll taxes here
  • House Ways and Means factsheet on Economic Impact Rebate portal here
  • IRS’s FAQ page on individual economic relief here
  • Treasury Guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit here
  • Treasury FAQ on Employee Retention Tax Credit here (updated 4/29)
Economic Stabilization
  • 4/30 – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the FAA will begin awarding the AIP and other discretionary grants funding through the CARES Act. Press release here. Complete list of grants here. Map of airports receiving funding here.
  • 4/10 – Treasury Q&A on Loans to Air Carriers and Eligible Businesses and National Security Businesses here. Loan application here.
  • 3/30 – The Treasury Department released guidance on payroll support to airline industry employees, and on loans to the airline industry and businesses critical to national security. Guidance for payroll support here. Guidance on procedures and minimum requirements for loans here. Treasury press release here.
Supplemental 3.5 – Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief, formally titled “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (HR 266)
The President signed the bill into law on April 24. Text here. Section by section here. Summary of hospital and testing provisions here. DPCC one pager here. Senate Democrats summary of health provisions. Overview of commitments regarding health funding and Medicare advance payments the Administration made as part of negotiations.
 
Supplemental III – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
After a unanimous vote by the Senate, the House passed the bill on March 27 and the President signed the bill into law shortly after. Final text here. Democratic summary here. Republican section by section here.
 
Supplemental II – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
The Senate passed the House bill on March 18 and the President signed the bill into law that evening. Bill text here. Factsheet here. Bill section by section here. A summary of paid leave provisions, incorporating changes made by technical correction, is here.
 
Supplemental I – Coronavirus Supplemental
Signed by the President March 6. Text here, summary here.
 
Congress
Hearings/Floor Activity: The House plans to bring members back every two weeks and continue oversight of the administration. What’s considered on the floor, as indicated by what’s scheduled for this week, is pairing COVID-19-related bills with non-COVID-related must-pass legislation (NDAA, appropriations etc.). Look for COVID-19-related bills to be led by Democratic front liners and be bipartisan, as Speaker Pelosi will be looking to give them wins going into the November election.
 
Next week the House will be back May 27 and 28 to vote on the FISA bill through proxy voting. After May 28, House Members will receive 72 hours’ notice to return to D.C. for additional votes.
 
Appropriations: HAC is still a couple of weeks away from formulating a real markup schedule. If that’s the case, we’re not likely to see markups commence until mid-to-late June at best. It will take some time to develop and implement committee guidance and procedures for the new remote latitude afforded through the House Rules change. The plan remains to move through COVID Phase 4 before turning to FY21. We still expect a rapid-fire markup process. The hope is that all 12 subcommittees can go through subcommittee markups over the course of a week – whenever the markups begin – with most of the full committee markups in the following week. HAC-D will likely go in the middle of the pack, largely due to the fact they still need to work on the classified annex which hasn’t been addressed yet as staff cannot work in classified spaces.
 
The FY21 Senate Appropriations schedule has slipped indefinitely, and the staff are no longer saying bills will be marked up prior to July 4th recess. Chairman Shelby has publicly said that the Homeland Security and the MilCon-VA spending bills are unlikely to move forward due to political disagreements over funding for the border wall. The Defense bill is unlikely to go through the formal markup process and may post a Chairman’s recommendation and explanatory statement online as was done in FY18. Last week, Leader McConnell and Chairman Shelby announced that they had reached an agreement to exempt VA health programs from the budget caps by designating it as emergency spending. This would save $11-$12 billion on the non-defense discretionary side and increase the odds of producing bipartisan bills. Another plan would be to agree to a budget cap adjustment similar to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). If appropriators cannot reach an agreement, domestic subcommittees will be significantly hurt as it will go toward non-defense discretionary spending. There is still no agreement on subcommittee allocations for the 12 spending bills.
 
NDAA: HASC and SASC are finalizing their bills. Both HASC and SASC are looking to markup NDAA 2021 the week of June 8, with the goal to have a bill to floor before the 4th of July recess. SASC plans to markup June 8-10 and HASC plans to markup June 10-12. Dates could still slip based on the availability of floor time. SASC is finishing the Subcommittee Chair and Ranking Members briefings on their bill sections. Next week will be a final review of the bill then printing the markup books the first week of June.
 
Remote voting/virtual protocols: Last week, the House passed the McGovern-Lofgren resolution (H.Res 965) to allow proxy voting and remote hearings and markups. The House passed the bill by a party line vote (217-189). House Republicans have not been enthusiastic about the prospect of remote markups and Floor action. The Senate has not moved forward with any proxy voting or remote procedures.
 
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold)

Tested Positive (0):

Currently Self-Quarantined (1): Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Recovered (7): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Completed Quarantine (37): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

Other Federal Actions
  • The CDC continues to update and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. The CDC published steps for how to discontinue home isolation, an updated FAQ for COVID-19 and children, and further considerations for travelers in the U.S. (among other resources). Importantly, the CDC has also revised its guidelines about how the coronavirus spreads. According to the newest guidance, it does not spread easily on surfaces. 
  • The preliminary results of an NIH study suggest that the investigational antiviral remdesivir is superior to the standard of care for the treatment of COVID-19. The researchers found that remdesivir had the greatest effect for hospitalized patients with severe cases of COVID-19 who required supplemental oxygen. Read more here
  • Here is last week’s 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.
  • The CDC has posted interim guidance for communities of faith after President Trump referred to places of worship as essential services and said he would overrule governors who disagreed that places of worship should be allowed to reopen. 
  • HHS announced it has begun distributing $4.9 billion in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to help them combat the effects of COVID-19. The announcement points out that nursing homes play a pivotal role in providing skilled care to vulnerable seniors. During this pandemic, nursing homes have faced unique challenges as their population of high-risk seniors are more vulnerable to respiratory pathogens like COVID-19. This funding, which supplements previously announced provider relief funds, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.
  • Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx urging the Trump Administration to develop a national COVID-19 vaccine plan. The Committee leaders wrote that the comprehensive plan should outline plans for development, manufacturing, distribution, provider training, public education, and broad vaccine access. 
  • Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and all of the HELP Committee Democrats wrote a letter to the Trump Administration urging them to offer full federal mental health and suicide prevention support to anyone coping with mental health ramifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on the women and men working on the front lines.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,637,456 total cases and 97,669 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said last week that she is concerned about Chicago, the Washington, D.C. area, and Los Angeles, because their case rates are not dropping at the same rate as in other cities in the U.S.
  • The New Mexico Department of Health and the State Personnel Office began accepting applications today to fill 200 to 250 contact-tracing positions around the state as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic moves into the next phase.
  • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that his state will conduct COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities. He said that they will test a percentage of all residents and staff at each facility and, where there is a confirmed case, all staff and residents will be tested weekly. 
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has updated directives on reopening recreational pools, overnight camps, community and school team sports, and resuming elective procedures. 
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) outlined changes to the state's phase 2 reopening plan including travel quarantine and sports. 
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an EO which allows groups of up to 50 people to participate in social and recreational activities while encouraging strong social distancing measures.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday he is immediately lifting restrictions on youth activities, saying he will allow local governments to decide whether restrictions are necessary and let parents weigh the risk and benefits of their children participating in sports, summer camps, or other organized activities.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued guidance on summer camps, pools, and recreation through an FAQ
    • Gov. Wolf also added eight counties to "yellow" in the state's reopening plan and 17 will move to "green" effective May 29th.  Additionally, the remaining "red" counties are expected to move to yellow by June 5th. 
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that swimming pools, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller rinks, and other places with indoor amusement will all be allowed to reopen on Saturday, May 30th, provided that all additional guidelines are followed.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said today that Long Island and the northern New York City suburbs could start reopening as early as next week if daily COVID-19 deaths continue to decline. 
  • Useful state data:
    • The NYT is 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. 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
  • The WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi have warned that COVID-19 is disrupting life-saving immunization services around the world, putting millions of children – in rich and poor countries alike – at risk of diseases like diphtheria, measles, and polio. Based on data collected by those three organizations and Sabin Vaccine Institute, provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 living in these countries.
  • WHO and the United Nationals High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed a new agreement to strengthen and advance public health services for the millions of displaced people around the world. A key aim this year will be to support ongoing efforts to protect some 70 million displaced people due to COVID-19.
  • Similar to the "travel bubbles" discussed between New Zealand and Australia, and between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, The U.K. and France are considering a similar option. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office reportedly announced an agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron that would eliminate the required quarantine for travelers arriving to the United Kingdom from France.
    • For now, however, the U.K. has announced a quarantine of 14 days for all international air travelers, including citizens. Starting June 8th, travelers will have to provide contact details and say where they will be staying upon arrival. Those who violate the policy will be fined. 
  • Public health officials in Indonesia are having a hard time promoting distancing measures, particularly during the Eid-al Fitr holiday. Markets, public spaces, and the airport have all been crowded, with little regard for physical and social distancing. Government officials are requiring that plantation workers remain on the plantation due to the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
  • COVID-19 is now in every country in Africa, and the continent has officially surpassed 100,000 total cases of COVID-19. 
  • China on Friday abandoned an annual growth target for 2020, in an acknowledgment that restarting its economy after the COVID-19 outbreak will be a slow and difficult process. 
  • Global Cases:  5,518,905 Total Deaths:  346,700
Lifestyle, Science, and Economy
  • Epidemiologists across the country are confused by the CDC's decision to combine results of tests that detect active COVID-19 infection with those that detect recovery. Two reasons for the confusion are that serological testing can be unreliable, and patients who have had both diagnostic and serology tests would be counted twice.
  • A new study, in which 15,000 patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine and 81,000 patients were not, shows that the drug may have done more harm than good to those who received it. People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms.
  • A study conducted by researchers at several laboratories in China appears to be safe and may offer protection against the virus. The trial included 108 participants and found that subjects who got the vaccine mounted a moderate immune response to the virus, which peaked 28 days after the inoculation.
  • Seventy-seven U.S. Nobel laureates and 31 scientific societies are asking NIH Director Francis Collins and HHS Sec. Alex Azar to review a controversial NIH decision to terminate a grant that supported research into bat coronaviruses in China. The laureates wrote a letter stating they “are gravely concerned” about the Administration's decision to terminate the grant, and the science groups have stated in their letter that they want the NIH “to be transparent about their decision-making process on this matter. … The action taken by the NIH must be immediately reconsidered.”
  • Amazon plans to spend up to $1 billion this year to regularly test its employees. The company is also making plans to build its own testing lab in Ohio. 
  • Major League Baseball is proposing testing players and essential staff multiple times per week in an effort to get their season up and running (just in time for a second Nats Championship). 
  • Hertz rental car company is preparing to file for bankruptcy after stay-at-home led to significant declines in car rentals. A bankruptcy would make Hertz one of the highest-profile corporate defaults yet.
  • The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force approved Universal Studios’ plans to reopen its theme parks on June 5th, pending approval by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Legoland currently plans to reopen on June 1st. Meanwhile, multiple other large theme park venues, including the Disney parks, have yet to announce reopening plans. Parks that plan to reopen will have to abide by a plethora of safety measures to mitigate transmission risk, including mandatory or recommended mask use, temperature checks, park occupancy and parking restrictions, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection. Additionally, the parks will promote appropriate physical distancing for visitors and staff.
  • The authors of Paul Has Measles have published Paul Stays Home, an illustrated book about COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 for children. Paul is sad because he can’t go out. He can’t see his friends or visit his grandparents. Like everyone else, he has to wait until the coronavirus pandemic is over. What is the coronavirus? How is it spread? How can we take care of ourselves and our families? Paul Stays Home is written by Susana López, Selene Zárate, and Marth Yocupicio, with illustrations by Eva Lobatón. A pdf of Paul Stays Home can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here (English) or here (Spanish).
  • 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.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.
  • RetailDive tracks store reopenings in the U.S. 
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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