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The Coronavirus is a serious global public health threat with information rapidly evolving. We are proud of our Members who are working hard to bring forward potential Covid-19 solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat this deadly infectious disease. Georgia Bio Member Companies, as employers, are also rushing to develop policies in response to employee concerns and safety needs. In support, Georgia Bio is working diligently to gather valuable tools and information for our Members to use as resources and guidelines.

BIO Coronavirus Hub

We have heard and seen many requests from medical research centers, biopharmaceutical companies, testing developers and testing sites requesting supplies and inquiring about manufacturing capacity. The BIO Coronavirus Hub enables you to post requests, announce the availability of supplies and capacity and to respond to those requests and announcements.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Georgia's departments of Public Health are working with local health care providers throughout the state to ensure readiness to respond to this novel virus.

The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Hotline: (844) 442-2681

Business Guidelines

Georgia Chamber Business Guidance During COVID-19:

  1. Every Georgia business should implement their plans to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers.  
  2. Every Georgia business should follow the CDC social distancing guidelines. All businesses should make every effort to ensure adequate social distancing occurs by maintaining at least six feet of personal space or as otherwise recommended by the CDC, and providing a station(s) to wash hands with warm water and antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol, or both, according to the ordinance. 
  3. Businesses operating in localities that have not implemented restrictions should follow the Governor’s direction to limit public gatherings to 10 or fewer and, if they decide to remain operational, should strictly enforce social distancing. For example, if your manufacturing facility employees 400 you should ensure that they remain 6 feet apart or seek further guidance from the Department of Public Health. We also recommend providing employees with masks, gloves and other health personal protection equipment (PPE) as needed.  
  4. Essential businesses and services are not considered to be social gatherings
  5. If your community has implemented an “Essential Business and Services Only” order, we have strongly recommended that they follow the pre-approved Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list of critical industries for national continuity. That list can be found here: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce. Those companies operating as “essential” should also continue to prioritize the safety of their employees.  
  6. If your community has implemented a “shelter in place” order without an “Essential Business and Services Only” order, we recommend you reach out to your local chamber or elected officials to comply with their specific order and continue to follow Governor Kemp’s Executive Order noted in (3) above

Suggestions to maintaining a safe workplace:

  • Educating employees on the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.(94%)
  • Allowing sick employees to work from home or take leave as appropriate. (86%)
  • Minimizing unnecessary travel. (81%)
  • Minimizing unnecessary meetings and visitors. (75%)
  • Establishing first-line points of contact within the HR team responsible for managing employee questions or concerns. (39%)
  • Implementing and/or evaluating workplace emergency response protocols.(38%)
  • Training supervisors about strategies to address overreaction from employees and conflict in the workplace. (25%)
  • Other: Sending daily reports to all staff, updates pertinent to our office, colleagues, and clients

How organizations are handling travel concerns:

  • Providing other meeting options, such as video conferencing, to avoid such travel. (69%)
  • Suspending all travel to affected areas. (63%)
  • Monitoring and sharing travel advisories and warnings from relevant public health and governmental authorities with respect to areas where your employees may travel or where you currently have operations. (56%)
  • Asking employees who have recently returned from affected regions to work from home. (44%)
  • Implementing guidelines for travel to affected regions. (38%)
  • Contingency planning for operations and supply-chain disruptions that may occur due to travel restrictions in affected areas. (38%)
  • Developing a policy to address employees who refuse to work with co-workers returning from travel in affected regions. (to avoid anti-harassment and anti-discrimination) (10%)

What an organization's communicable illness policy and response plan should include:

Click here to download the World Health Organization's guide to developing a "Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for the New Coronavirus."

  • When an ill employee must stay home, when an ill employee will be sent home and when and in what circumstances the employee may return. (81%)
  • What illnesses or exposure to illness an employee must disclose to the employer, and when and how such disclosure should be made. (63%)
  • When an employer may require an ill employee – or those who have been exposed – to be quarantined. (63%)
  • Whether the employer will pay employees for the time spent in quarantine as well as an outline of the benefits that are available to employees. (56%)
  • Other: Provisions for critical employees (like manufacturing personnel ) who must work but you want exposure limited - hotel accommodations be provided to insulate their families

Business Tools:

Biopharma Initiatives

State Updates

Updates from the States

  • On May 28, 2020, Governor Kemp and state officials provided an update on COVID-19 in Georgia and detailed his strategy for a “transitio to a new normal”. After consultation with Lieutenant Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston, Governor Kemp decided to renew the State of Emergency for a third time through 11:59 PM on July 12, 2020. Kemp's order permits gatherings of as many as 25 people starting Monday, and it continues to require larger groups to maintain social distancing. It lets school systems start holding summer courses if they follow state criteria. It allows bars and nightclubs to reopen next week if they meet 39 measures, including screening workers for illness, limiting occupancy and requiring regular sanitation. Amusement parks can follow on June 12 if they abide by other limits. And live performance venues will remain indefinitely shuttered, and people older than 65, as well as the “medically fragile,” are urged to shelter in place until June 12. Click here for more information.
  • On Thursday May 7, 2020 Governor Kemp  provided Georgians a COVID-19 update. Gov. Brian Kemp is now encouraging all Georgians to be screened for Covid-19, even if they have no symptoms of the disease, as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to increase its testing numbers. The state’s new guidance comes as the federal government has promised to send more than 200,000 testing swabs and kits to the state this month. Click here for more details. 
  • On April 30, 2020 at 11:59PM the statewide shelter in place order for most Georgians will expire. However, moving forward, the Governor is urging Georgians to continue to stay home whenever possible. Governor Brian P. Kemp signed Executive Order 4.30.20.01. In accordance with the Governor Kemps executive orders, businesses across the Peach State must continue to operate with strict social distancing and sanitation rules to keep customers and employees safe through May 13, 2020. Those rules vary by business type for a measured, health-driven approach.
  • On April 23, 2020 Governor Kemp issued an executive order that provides details on the his plan to reopen Georgia.  Click here to read the Executive Order.
  • House Speaker David Ralston proposed that session resume on June 11. This date was selected for one overriding reason: to enable the members of the General Assembly to have the most current data available on the revenue and expenses as we make what will surely be significant changes to the FY 21 budget. Our priority when session resumes will be the only thing we are required to do- pass a balanced state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Click here to read the letter.
  • Governor Kemp announces initial steps to reopen businesses starting Friday April 27, 2020. Click here to read the Governors press briefing.
  • As the Georgia General Assembly looks forward to resuming the 2020 Session the date is still to be determined. House Speaker David Ralston appointed a committee to review their protocols and make recommendations on specific operations during that time. Click here to read the memorandum.
  • Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020.
  • Governor Brian P. Kemp issued a shelter in place order for the state of Georgia. The order will be effective beginning Friday, April 3rd, at 6:00 PM and expire Monday, April 13th, at 11:59 PM. Click here to view the executive order and for guidance/FAQ click here.
  • Gov. Kemp Calls on Georgia Businesses to Aid with Critical Health Care Needs - On March 24, 2020 Governor Kemp called on all Georgia businesses who are able to help the state provide, produce, distribute, or store critical health care items needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. Click here to read the press release and to complete the information form, visit: www.georgia.org/covid19response.
  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday night that she has signed 14-day stay at home order for the city of Atlanta. The order says all city residents are being directed to stay home except for essential services, essential activities, work or for government services. As of right now, the order does not include essential businesses, parks, the Atlanta BeltLine and restaurants serving takeout. Click here to read the executive order.
  • On March 23rd Governor Kemp announced new restrictions by directing bars and nightclubs statewide to close. The executive order also limited gatherings, including those in churches, to 10 or fewer people, unless a safe “social distancing” space of six feet apart can be maintained. At minimum, this order for isolation, quarantine, or shelter-in-place covers those who live in a long-term care facility, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 20th Governor Kemp issued two additional executive orders: one authorizing nearly $20 million in emergency funding to pay for necessary medical supplies, and the other reducing regulations - especially in the healthcare context - to address COVID-19. All licensed Georgia pharmacists are now permitted to dispense a ninety-day supply of a prescription drug if a patient has no remaining refills and the pharmacist cannot get in contact with the prescribing provider. Pharmacists may also dispense early refills for prescription drugs. However, these authorizations do not apply to Schedule II controlled substances. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 14th Governor Kemp declared a public health state of emergency to deploy additional resources and give the Department of Public Health authority to direct specific healthcare action to fight against the spread of COVID-19. As part of this state of emergency, the Governor have authorized new processes for temporary licensure of out-of-state doctors and nurses, and authorized the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to coordinate with the Georgia National Guard to call up as many as 2,000 troops to assist in emergency response. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 17, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 792 - Georgia's amended fiscal year 2020 budget - with $100 million in emergency funding to address the spread of novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 1,698,523 total cases and 100,446 deaths The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. 
  • COVID-19 infections and deaths are still on the rise in more than a dozen states. 
  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) approved several proposals from mayors across the state to reopen more businesses and operations under public health guidelines.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an EO which implements Phase 2 of the Stay Safe MN plan. Phase 2 includes outdoor dining at restaurants and bars to start June 1st with safety measures and capacity limits. Personal services like salons and barbershops can also open on June 1st at 25 percent capacity.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an EO authorizing businesses to deny entry to inidividuals not wearing masks or face-coverings.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that the state will remain in phase one of its reopening for a minimum of another week, while Northern Virginia can enter phase one of reopening on Friday. Gov. Northam also signed an EO requiring masks in indoor spaces.
  • California is the most recent state to have recorded 100,000 cases.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation that will enable water parks across Texas to reopen at limited capacity under Phase 2 of reopening on May 29th.
  • Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that Nevada is ready to move into Phase 2 of the reopening plan on May 29th including the reopening of casinos on June 4th. Additional businesses including personal services and gyms may open under new restrictions.
  • Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 last week, an increase of 13 states from the previous week. South Carolina had the biggest weekly increase at 42 percent, Alabama’s new cases rose 28 percent, Missouri’s rose 27 percent, and North Carolina’s rose 26 percent.
  • California's Department of Public Health announced that, subject to approval by county public health departments, all retail stores can reopen for in-store shopping under previously issued guidelines.
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is recommending voluntary 14-day self-quarantine for those Kansans who traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, over the Memorial Day weekend and did not use protective measures, such as social distancing and face masks.  
  • Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that overnight facilities at West Virginia’s state parks and forests will start reopening to state residents only in following the guidelines of the Safer at Home order. Most day-use areas remain open to the public, though social distancing guidelines will be enforced.
  • White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said today 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. 
  • New York State is now looking into 157 cases of MIS-C, the severe inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 that is affecting children. CDC's informational page about MIS-C is linked here
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a letter to the Chair and Vice Chair of the National Governors Association, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), following up on his previous request that they direct the leaders of all fifty states, D.C., and U.S. territories to collect demographic data on racial disparities and COVID-19. His request follows reports that states are not reporting comprehensive demographic data. Of the 1.1 million COVID-19 cases reported to the CDC, race is not known in more than half of them. 
  • More than 10,000 individuals across the U.S. have been trained in COVID-19 contact tracing thanks to the free ASTHO and NCSD introductory training course. You can register for the course here.
  • At this point, all 50 states have started to reopen in some capacity. 
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to pass $1 trillion in direct relief for state and local governments. The letter, signed by 91 California leaders, outlines the budgetary challenges facing state, local, and tribal governments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Gov. Newsom also signed an EO waiving the deadline to verify grade point average and waive certain certification requirements and selective service registration verification for Cal Grant applicants.
  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed an EO moving Kansas into Phase 2 of “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas.” Phase 2, effective this Friday, will be modified to include data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.
  • In Michigan, armed protesters once again gathered at the statehouse to oppose the ongoing statewide stay-at-home order. The gathering was reportedly smaller than previous protests. Michigan’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire on May 28th. 
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) extended the state of emergency to June 15th.
  • Updates on lockdowns/reopening:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that gyms and fitness centers throughout the state can reopen on Monday, and restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
    • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's (R) order closing non-essential businesses is set to expire Sunday, but he said it will be extended until Monday to allow the Reopening Advisory Board to unveil its four-phase approach to reopening the state.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the state's stay-at-home order will remain in place until May 28th. The order also extended several emergency "suspensions" and "modifications" of laws through June 13th. Gov. Cuomo added that beaches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware will open at 50 percent capacity Memorial Day weekend. 
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced Friday, new criteria for moving the state forward into Phase 2 of reopening the economy.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he plans to lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and large attractions in most of the state.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has lifted restrictions in 13 counties, including the Pittsburgh area, and announced that 12 more counties could reopen starting May 22nd. 
  • Two restaurants in Dallas, Texas directed employees not to wear face masks as they resume dine-in operations, while a Dallas County Judge amended his local stay at home order to mandate mask use. Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) has prohibited local governments from “imposing civil or criminal” punishments for failure to wear a mask.  
  • The Ohio Legislature passed a bill that would require the Director of Health to apply to the legislature for approval to extend any health order issued in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Gov. Mark DeWine (R) has reportedly confirmed that he intends to veto the bill.
  • Georgia reported today that 20,000 teens in the state had been issued a driver’s license in the last month without having had to pass a road test.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) rescheduled the presidential primary for July 7th.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that he is extending a ban on foreclosures and evictions through July 10th.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
  • Over the weekend, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Gov. Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a joint multi-state agreement to develop a regional supply chain for PPE, other medical equipment, and testing.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order creating the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability within the State Budget Office.
  • Updates on lockdowns/reopening:
    • Gov. Cuomo outlined the core factors New York will be monitoring to decide if they can start reopening as well as new safety precautions businesses must put in place.
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has accelerated his phased reopening plan for the state. Barbershops and salons can resume services starting this Friday if they limit occupancy, implement social distancing measures, increase sanitation protocols, and provide cloth masks to employees. Next Monday (May 15th) restaurants can offer dine-in service.
    • Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of Virginia said the state will begin reopening on May 15th as part of phase I of the reopening plan, which could last two to four weeks. Nonessential businesses, for now, are still required to be closed until May 14th.
    • New Hampshire's original stay-at-home was set to expire today, but Gov. Chris Sununu (R) placed a Stay-at-Home 2.0 order in effect until May 31st.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced today that wellness facilities and drive-in movie theaters will reopen starting May 11th.
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced he would be taking steps to reopen restaurants and outdoor activities.
  • New Jersey reported more deaths in the last 24 hours than any other state (406).
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) made clear that it is highly unlikely that groups of more than 50 people will be able to gather at any point this summer. She recommended that anyone planning an event with more than 50 people through the summer cancel, postpone, or find a way to celebrate virtually instead.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said starting next Wednesday the New York City subway system will halt service from 1:00-5:00 am each night to allow time for trains to be disinfected.
  • Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a new COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard to aid the state in gauging when and how to best lift the state’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.
  • Armed protesters gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing today in an effort to convince lawmakers to vote against extending the state of emergency.
  • President Trump suggested on a call with governors today that some should make an effort to reopen their public schools before the end of the academic year. Montana, which has among the fewest cases and deaths, will give schools the option to reopen starting May 7th.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced their states will be joining California, Oregon, and Washington in the Western States Pact – a working group of Western state governors who have a shared plan for modifying stay-at-home orders.
  • The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has provided masks to all inmates (approximately 18,500 total) and correctional staff amid the coronavirus pandemic. To date, four inmates within MDOC have tested positive for COVID-19 and 21 have tested negative.
  • New Jersey Gov. Murphy (D) said Monday that he would need to see four things before he would consider reopening businesses and schools: a prolonged decline in hospitalization and infection rates, expanded testing, more contact tracing and places for those who were sick with the virus to remain in isolation.
  • Updates on Lockdowns/Reopening:
    • Gov. Polis signed an executive order outlining the new “safer at home” level for the state’s response which includes some new benchmarks for reopening. Starting today, retail businesses can open for curbside delivery, starting Friday, personal services can open if they are implementing best practices, and on May 4th, offices can reopen at a 50 percent reduced in-person staffing capacity (but are still encouraged to allow employees to telecommute). Child care facilities can also expand or reopen if they are following Safer at Home requirements. 
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the reopening of the state’s businesses in phases starting Friday and said he was allowing the stay-at-home order to expire on April 30th.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) outlined a multi-phase plan, based on regional analysis and determinations, to re-open New York. This will only be implemented once the region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) allowed retail businesses to become operational today or after if they adhere to requirements to limit capacity and maintain strict physical distancing. Restaurants, bars, breweries, and distilleries can begin providing some in-establishment services on May 4th.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) allowed restaurants and retailers to reopen at 50 percent capacity in the vast majority of counties.
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) will allow restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, and gyms to reopen May 1st if they maintain "strict social distancing and sanitation protocols." Bars, schools, and sporting events, however, will still be closed.
    • In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he will allow some businesses to reopen beginning Monday.
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) has opened beaches for exercising, but said people cannot loiter on the beach and must maintain social distance. Elective surgeries are also allowed to take place as long as there is enough capacity.
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is extending the state's current stay-at-home order through May 15th, keeping bars, dine-in restaurants and barber shops closed for two additional weeks before starting a phased reopening of the economy on May 16th.
  • COVID-19 became Los Angeles County’s leading cause of death after California’s worst day of the pandemic yet. L.A. has seen nearly 800 deaths from COVID-19 since the onset of the outbreak.
  • The National Governors Association and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) published a “Roadmap to Recovery,” which outlines public health infrastructure needs that should be addressed before a state’s gradual reopening.
  • Hawaii has started offering tourists a free ticket home. With a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has begun helping to return travelers who don’t have the means to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which involves paying for lodging, and food delivery. Since starting the program three weeks ago, the organization has sent 20 visitors back to their airports of origin, including travelers from Guam, Los Angeles, Denver, and Birmingham.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that more than 21 percent of around 1,300 people in New York City who were tested for coronavirus antibodies this week were found to have them.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) of California said Thursday that the state had experienced its “deadliest day” since the start of the pandemic, with 115 COVID-19 deaths.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the state’s public K-12 schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through the end of May, with some additional modifications.
  • Reopening Updates:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she will lift the ban on elective medical procedures beginning May 1st.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) detailed a plan for a gradual three-phase reopening of the state’s economy.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced restaurants and retail outlets in a majority of the state’s counties will be able to reopen at half their capacity as early as next week, provided they follow certain guidelines.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced plans to reopen places of worship and some businesses this weekend and early next week as part of a phased reopening of the state.
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced a three-part plan to reopen the state and extended the current stay-at-home order through May 8th.
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced a four-phase reopening of Idaho’s economy.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) outlined the plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced his plan to reopen the state’s economy.
  • The Wisconsin legislature submitted a petition calling on the state's Supreme Court to temporarily block enforcement of Gov. Tony Evers's (D) stay-at-home order after he extended the directive through May 26th.
  • Puerto Rico has performed an average of 15 tests a day for every 100,000 people, which is a lower rate than any state in the U.S. and more than 10 times less comprehensive than the testing effort in New York.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) met with President Trump today at the White House to talk about additional federal assistance to expand testing and support state and local governments.
  • Reopening Updates:
    • Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia (R) is being criticized by health experts and some business owners for his decision to reopen parts of the state’s economy later this week. The main argument is that reopening too much too soon will lead to a second wave of COVID-19.
    • Alaska’s stay-at-home order expired today.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has said that she is planning a phased-in reopening when their stay-at-home order expires April 30th. It will be tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of the state.
    • North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) plans to partially reopen the state on May 1st.
    • Starting May 8th, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has said he plans to ease restrictions starting with construction, curbside alcohol pickup, and vehicle sales.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has said that "the vast majority of businesses" will be allowed to re-open on May 1st.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will start to allow elective treatments in hospitals in parts of the state that have fewer cases of COVID-19.
  • A state prison in Ohio is now the largest reported COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. State officials have said that at least 1,828 inmates — almost three-quarters of the prison population —tested positive at the Marion Correctional Institution, which is a minimum- and medium-security prison north of Columbus.
  • Significant workplace-based clusters have been recorded in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and other states, which indicates that COVID-19 is only just beginning to hit some communities.
  • USC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released preliminary results from a collaborative scientific study that suggests COVID-19 infections are far more widespread in L.A. County than previously thought, and the fatality rate is much lower.
  • Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson announced today that the Maryland General Assembly will not reconvene in May for a special session as previously decided.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves extended the shelter-in-place order in his state for another week. The order is now set to expire on April 27th. Beginning Monday, April 20th, some non-essential businesses will be allowed to do curbside and delivery sales, and lakes and beaches will be able to reopen. Gatherings of 10 or more are still banned and strict social distancing must be practiced.
  • Several groups of U.S. states have made plans to coordinate regional roll backs of social distancing measures, including existing coalitions on the east and west coasts. Yesterday, a group of 7 Midwestern states—Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Kentucky—announced that they are similarly coordinating a regional plan to relax social distancing measures and “reopen the regional economy.” The group did not announce a set date to start implementing procedures, but Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said his state will begin this process on May 1st.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued three new executive orders to begin the process of reopening Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Within the orders, select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen using a "Retail-To-Go" model, certain restrictions on surgeries have been loosened, and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Within these orders, the Governor has established the Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota, joined the list of cities where residents are protesting statewide lock downs. A group calling itself “Liberate Minnesota” held a protest outside Gov. Tim Walz’s house in violation of stay-at-home orders.
  • California’s April 16th income tax revenue plummeted by 87 percent compared to the same day in 2019. This roadmap provides a summary of state tax activity relating to COVID-19.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that the state would be providing $125 million in disaster relief assistance for undocumented immigrants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Gov. Newsom said the state will provide $75 million in disaster relief assistance which will be supplemented by $50 million from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. The $75 million Disaster Relief Fund will support undocumented Californians who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief as a result of their immigration status. About 150,000 undocumented adults in the state will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household.
  • Yesterday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards postponed Louisiana’s Presidential Preference Primary election until July 11th.
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District’s public health emergency and closure of schools until May 15th and announced that other COVID-19 restrictions in the city, including nonessential business closures, a stay-at-home order, and a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people are also extended.
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury launched a web portal to allow eligible State, local, and tribal governments to receive payments to help offset the costs of their response to COVID-19.
  • 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.

Federal Updates

Washington, D.C

  • HRSA awarded $15 million to 52 Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, and other health services providers to Tribes across 20 states to prepare, prevent, and respond to COVID-19 in rural tribal communities. View the list of awards here
  • The FDA is hosting a virtual Town Hall on June 3rd at 12:15 PM for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for COVID-19. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for COVID-19. 
  • Vice President Mike Pence met with members of the American Camp Association by phone and led a discussion with camp owners and operators across the country to discuss the approach to safely and responsibly reopening summer camps amid COVID-19. A brief readout is available here
  • The FDA issued a guidance entitled “Reporting a Temporary Closure or Significantly Reduced Production by a Human Food Establishment and Requesting FDA Assistance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The guidance provides a mechanism for FDA-regulated establishments (human food facilities and farms) to voluntarily notify the agency of temporary closures and significant reductions in operations and to request assistance from FDA on issues that might affect continuity of their operations during the pandemic.
  • The FDA issued a guidance document entitled “Effects of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on Formal Meetings and User Fee Applications” to provide answers to frequently asked questions. The agency is providing answers concerning certain aspects of sponsor requests for formal meetings with industry, user fee applications goals and timelines, and prioritization of drug and biological application reviews.
  • HHS has delivered an 81-page COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan to Congress. The report outlines the national-level testing strategy, and recommends that states test at least two percent of their population by the end of June. The linked document outlines a state-by-state approach to COVID-19 testing, rather than a centralized national effort.
  • In response to the recent acceleration in the number COVID-19 cases in Brazil, President Trump has restricted U.S. entry for arriving travelers who have been to Brazil in the past 14 days. The list of international travel restrictions into the U.S. now includes: China, Iran, the European Schengen area, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, and Brazil. 
  • Many government agencies were pretty quiet over the long weekend, but the CDC continued to churn out updated guidance and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Over the last few days, the CDC published steps for evaluating and testing persons for COVID-19, new information about CDC diagnostic tests, and helpful information about antibody tests (among other resources). All CDC PSAs can be viewed here
  • Here is this 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. 
  • The CDC continues to update and publish new COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Today, 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. 
  • 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.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced that the Department is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the CARES Act.
  • FDA posted a list of antibody tests that are being removed from the “notification list” of tests being offered under the Policy for Coronavirus Disease-2019 Tests During the Public Health Emergency. Antibody tests on this new removal list include those voluntarily withdrawn from the notification list by the test’s commercial manufacturer and those for which there is not a pending EUA request or issued EUA. The FDA expects that the tests on the removal list will not be marketed or distributed. Antibody tests offered by commercial manufacturers as outlined under the policy, which was issued on March 16th and updated on May 4th, continue to be located on the notification list pending review of their EUA request.
  • The FDA issued the guidance “Supplements for Approved Premarket Approval (PMA) or Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) Submissions During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency” to help foster the continued availability of medical. Per the guidance, the FDA does not intend to object to limited modifications to the design and manufacturing of devices approved through either a PMA or HDE without prior submission of a PMA or HDE supplement or 30-day notice for the duration of the public health emergency. The policy set forth in the guidance does not apply to design or manufacturing changes made for reasons other than addressing manufacturing limitations or supply chain issues resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency or to any proposed changes described in a regulatory submission already received by the FDA.
  • Through HRSA, HHS provided $225 million to Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing.  These investments will support over 4,500 RHCs across the country to support COVID-19 testing efforts and expand access to testing in rural communities. RHCs are a special designation given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by CMS that help ensure access to care for rural residents. The funding is from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that was signed into law last month. A state-by-state breakdown of the funding is available here
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced today that households in 13 new states – Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia – will soon be able to purchase food online with their SNAP benefits. Once operational, online purchasing will be available in 36 states and D.C., home to more than 90 percent of SNAP participants. Sec. Perdue also announced an expansion of independently owned and operated retail stores beyond those included in the original pilot. Soon, more SNAP authorized retailers, under multiple store banners, will be accepting SNAP benefits online.
  • The GAO published a new Science & Tech Spotlight article focused on COVID-19 testing. 
  • Responding to the Senate Finance Committee, the GAO submitted a report on infection control in nursing homes. The study concluded that infection control deficiencies were widespread and persistent in nursing homes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue, Labor Sec. Gene Scalia, NIH Director Francis Collins, HRSA Administrator Thomas Engels, and FDA's Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Peter Marks are all joining the White House Coronavirus Task Force. According to Vice President Pence, the task force is now focused on getting Americans back to work and allowing businesses to reopen. 
  • The White House announced the details of Operation Warp Speed, an effort to dramatically shorten the development timeline for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and get them to the front lines as quickly as possible. The project's chief operating officer will be four-star General Gustave Perna, and former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine's division, Moncef Slaoui, will serve as chief scientist.
  • Here is this 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 published a series of flowcharts to provide guidance to state and local governments, schools and child care services, restaurants, and others regarding when and how to safely relax social distancing measures for various aspects of society.
  • The CDC will award $10.25 billion in funding to jurisdictions using funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. These funds will be directed to states, localities, and territories to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts and related activities
  • The CDC continues to update and publish additional COVID-19 documents to its dashboard. Today, the CDC published updated information about worker safety and support, planning for colleges and universities, correctional and detention facilities, and an air travel toolkit for airline partners (among other resources). 
  • HHS has extended the deadline for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19 to attest to receipt of payments from the Provider Relief Fund and accept the Terms and Conditions. Providers will now have 45 days, increased from 30 days, from the date they receive a payment to attest and accept the Terms and Conditions or return the funds.
  • To date, the FDA has issued 42 warning letters to companies making bogus COVID-19 claims, including one to a seller of fraudulent chlorine dioxide products, equivalent to industrial bleach, frequently referred to as “Miracle Mineral Solution” or “MMS,” as a treatment for COVID-19. After the seller refused to take corrective action, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction requiring the seller to immediately stop distributing its unproven and potentially dangerous product.
  • Through HRSA, HHS awarded nearly $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers in the U.S. to expand COVID-19 testing. Nearly 88 percent of HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent offering walk-up or drive-up testing. Health centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities. The funding for these centers is part of the “COVID 3.5” bill signed into law last month. Here is a list of award recipients.
  • COVID-19 hearings in Congress this week (memos available upon request):
  • COVID-19 hearings in Congress next week:
  • The FDA announced updates to its March 16th policy on commercial manufacturers’ serology tests (antibody tests) for COVID-19. Under the new policy, FDA expects commercial manufacturers to submit Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) requests, including their validation data, within 10 days of the updated policy publication date, or the date they notify FDA of their test validation, whichever is later.
  • An internal report in the Trump Administration projects about 200,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths each day by the end of the May/beginning of June. So far, no agency or department has claimed authorship over the document that contained the new projections.
  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH is funding a study to help determine the rate of COVID-19 infection in children and their family members in the U.S. The study, called Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS), has started to enroll patients. HEROS will help determine what percentage of children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, develop symptoms of the disease. In addition, the HEROS study will examine whether rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection differ between children who have asthma or other allergic conditions and children who do not.
  • The Senate has returned to D.C. (with skeleton staffs) and are jumping right in with hearings. The slated COVID-19 hearings are:
  • The FDA included, under the ventilator emergency use authorization (EUA), a ventilator developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is tailored to treat patients with COVID-19. The ventilator was added to the list of authorized ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors and ventilator accessories under the ventilator EUA that was issued in response to concerns relating to insufficient supply and availability of FDA-cleared ventilators for use in health care settings to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The FDA published Q&A about COVID-19 and pets.
  • The federal government is reportedly initiating an effort called “Operation Warp Speed” to speed the development and production of countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines. The program will reportedly provide liability protection and funding for vaccine developers. Operation Warp Speed has not officially been announced by the government.
    • It is unclear how much money will be allocated to this program, but the goal is reportedly to manufacture hundreds of millions of treatment/vaccine doses by the end of 2020.
  • The CDC continues to update their dashboard. Today, they notably updated the social media toolkit and guidance for contact tracing. Recently, they updated and published the most recent reopening guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.
  • Betsy DeVos announced today that nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding will be directed to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), as well as institutions serving low-income students to help ensure learning continues during the coronavirus national emergency. This funding is part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • The White House released the Opening Up America Again Testing Overview and Testing Blueprint to facilitate state development and implementation of the testing plans and rapid response programs described in the President’s Opening Up America Again Guidelines. The blueprint describes a partnership between federal, state, local, and tribal governments, and the private sector. The overview and blueprint do not specify how states will be able to test at least 2 percent of their populations every month, which is what administration officials had promised.
  • President Trump signed the interim emergency relief fund package last week, which replenishes the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and includes funding for hospitals, testing, and disaster loan programs. You can view the bill text here and a section by section summary here. With Congress set to return next Monday, May 4th, discussion of a fourth COVID supplemental funding package has continued. For a more thorough update on the federal legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update from Sierra Fuller which is published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you do not already receive that update and would like to subscribe, please email sfuller@cgagroup.com.
  • The CDC has been busy uploading new guidance and updated resources for COVID-19 on their dashboard. On Sunday, the agency posted an interim guidance document for meat and poultry processing workers and employers. Today, there is more information about contact tracing, new symptoms associated with COVID-19, and a toolkit for transportation partners to inform road travelers.
  • Yesterday, 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. Since expanding the AAP programs on March 28th, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. 
  • President Trump signed the interim emergency relief fund package Friday April 24, which includes $310 billion to replenish the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses ($50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion for the Emergency Economic Injury Grant program), $75 billion in emergency funds for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. You can view the bill text here and a section by section summary here. For a more thorough update on the federal legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update from Sierra Fuller which is published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you do not already receive that update and would like to subscribe, please email sfuller@cgagroup.com.
  • Here is this 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.
  • Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) wrote a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield expressing concern that federal public health officials are “behind the curve in assessing public health threat levels, because they lack immediate visibility into population health data.” In the letter, they press the CDC to implement a real-time national system for tracking COVID-19.
  • The Trump Administration released a new toolkit for states to help accelerate adoption of broader telehealth coverage policies in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). The toolkit will help states identify policies which may impede rapid deployment of telehealth services, such as pediatric considerations, coverage and reimbursement policies, and technology requirements.
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced the availability of more than $13.2 billion in emergency funding to support continued learning for K-12 students impacted by COVID-19. Education leaders will have flexibility to use these funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs.
    • State education agencies (SEAs) must allocate 90% of their ESSER funds to local education agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools, in proportion to the  amount of FY 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
  • The Senate passed more than $480 billion in interim emergency relief this afternoon. The legislation includes $310 billion to replenish the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses ($50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion for the Emergency Economic Injury Grant program), $75 billion in emergency funds for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as Thursday. For a more thorough update on the federal legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update from Sierra Fuller which is published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you do not already receive that update and would like to subscribe, please email sfuller@cgagroup.com.
  • President Trump announced that he would be ordering a temporary ban on immigration to the U.S. He has backed down from his original plan to also suspend guest worker programs. The order will be in place for 60 days, with the potential to be extended longer if deemed necessary.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a letter to chairs of the House Administration and Rules Committees urging them to consider a set of recommendations to enable remote voting and committee work, and that also prepare Congress to work remotely even when back in Washington to comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced today that Arizona and Illinois have been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program 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.
  • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Dr. Peter Marks, and Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Dr. Janet Woodcock wrote an article for the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP).
  • HHS announced an ongoing partnership with Oracle, including Oracle's donation to HHS of the Therapeutic Learning System, an online platform designed to collect real-time medical data related to COVID-19. The Therapeutic Learning System is a safe, secure web portal designed to gather crowd-sourced, real-time information from doctors and other clinicians about how patients are responding to possible therapeutics to treat COVID-19. The data will not be owned by Oracle or any other private entity.
  • SAMHSA has begun to release emergency grants to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement this afternoon.
  • Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The $19 billion USDA program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in the response to COVID-19. CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities to provide direct support to farmers and ranchers, and partner with regional and local distributors to purchase produce, dairy, and meat.
  • Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) along with 11 Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to HHS Sec. Alex Azar calling on him to distribute the remaining COVID-19 aid to health care providers in an equitable and transparent way, claiming the first $30 billion dollars failed to deliver funds to where they are needed most.
  • The NIH announced the launch of a public-private partnership to speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options. Government and industry partners will provide infrastructure, subject matter expertise and/or funding (both new and in-kind) to identify, prioritize and facilitate the entry of some of the most promising candidates into clinical trials. Industry partners also will make available certain prioritized compounds, some of which have already cleared various phases of development, and associated data to support research related to COVID-19.
    • The government agencies involved are: NIH; ASPR; FDA; CDC; and European Medicines Agency.
    • The industry partners are: AbbVie; Amgen; AstraZeneca; Bristol Myers Squibb; Evotec; GlaxoSmithKline; Johnson & Johnson; KSQ Therapeutics; Eli Lilly and Company; Merck & Co., Inc.; Novartis; Pfizer; Roche; Sanofi; Takeda; and Vir Biotechnology.
  • 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.
  • Senators released two documents today, A Roadmap to Reopening by Ensuring a Speedy and Ubiquitous Lab Testing System (RESULTS) and a report from DPCC: U.S. Lags the World in Testing, Leads the World in COVID-19 Cases. The reports outline Democrats' proposals to rapidly expand testing capacity. Democrats note in the report that the U.S. is testing around one in every 273 people for COVID-19, while South Korea and Germany have been testing one in every 100 people.
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sent a letter to Philips North America Corporation requesting information and documents regarding its foreign sales of ventilators, after entering into contract with HHS to provide ventilators to the U.S. stockpile. In the letter, Rep. Krishnamoorthi says Philips has been selling ventilators to foreign clients at much higher prices than what it would have received from HHS.
  • Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a letter signed by 37 senators to President Trump urging him to automatically extend work authorizations for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and other impacted immigrants.
  • Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma today urging the agency to release demographic data on the health outcomes of COVID-19 based on race, ethnicity, and gender.  His letter comes after multiple data sources continue to show that COVID-19 disproportionately affects individuals from racial and ethnic minority communities. In New York City, Latino and African American residents had double the age-adjusted death rates as compared to white residents. In Chicago, 64.6 percent of deaths and 49.6 percent of total cases are among African American residents, despite African Americans only making up approximately 30 percent of the city’s population.
  • The CDC has posted multiple new guidance documents on its COVID-19 dashboard, including useful information about how to wear a cloth face covering and how COVID-19 spreads.  
  • The Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments, including cases on subpoenas, over the phone during six days in May.
  • Given the anticipated increase in demand for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate, the FDA is taking steps to ensure that adequate supply of these drug products are available for patients:
  • The FDA issued a Consumer Update: How You Can Make a Difference During the Coronavirus Pandemic. It explains ways to help, such as donating blood, protecting yourself and others, saving protective equipment for front line workers, and reporting fraudulent products to the agency.
  • The FDA added new questions and answers to the webpage Q&A for Consumers: Hand Sanitizers and COVID-19. These new questions focus on unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer by children, as there has been an increase in calls to Poison Control for unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HHS announced they are beginning the delivery of the initial $30 billion in relief funding to providers in support of the national response to COVID-19 as part of the distribution of the $100 billion provider relief fund provided for in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The initial $30 billion in immediate relief funds started being delivered to providers today.
  • The CDC announced the extension of a no sail order for cruise ships. The order says it shall continue in operation until the earliest of (1) the expiration of the HHS Sec.’s declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency; (2) the CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations; or (3) 100 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. The agency has reported that there are 100 cruise ships at sea off of U.S. coasts, with 80,000 crew members on board. Twenty ships at port or anchorage in the U.S. have known or suspected cases of COVID-19.
  • The CDC has published this week’s “COVIDView,” a weekly surveillance summary of U.S. COVID-19 activity.
  • The CDC updated its travel recommendations by country.
  • CMS is proposing a rule to continue their efforts to strengthen Medicare by aligning payments for inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs) with the costs of providing care. The proposed rule would update Medicare payment policies and rates for the IPF Prospective Payment System (PPS) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. CMS is publishing this proposed rule consistent with the legal requirements to update Medicare payment policies for IPFs on an annual basis.
  • CMS issued a proposed rule [CMS-1737-P] for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 that updates the Medicare payment rates and the quality programs for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
  • Education Sec. Betsy DeVos said today she was moving to "immediately distribute" the $6 billion in coronavirus economic stimulus money that has been earmarked for emergency financial aid grants to college students. The funding is the first tranche of the nearly $31 billion of overall education aid that was included as part of last month’s stimulus package. The bill makes available aid for college students for things like technology, course materials, food, shelter, and health care. Allocations are available here.
  • CMS announced this on April 8th that they have temporarily suspended a number of rules so that hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities can boost their frontline medical staffs. The changes affect doctors, nurses, and other clinicians nationwide, and focus on reducing supervision and certification requirements so that practitioners can be hired quickly and “perform work to the fullest extent of their licenses.”
  • CMS has updated their Q&A to assist Medicare providers to a more recent version.
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for violations of the HIPAA Rules against covered entities or business associates in connection with the good faith participation in the operation of COVID-19 testing sites during pandemic response. The notification was issued to support certain covered health care providers, including some large pharmacy chains, and their business associates that may choose to participate in the operation of a Community Based-Testing Site (CBTS), which includes mobile, drive-through, or walk-up sites that only provide COVID-19 specimen collection or testing services to the public.
  • The CDC released interim guidance on March 8 that details how essential employees can go back to work even if they have been exposed to people infected by COVID-19 as long as they do not feel sick and follow certain precautions. Per the guidance, employees can return to work if they take their temperature before heading to their workplaces, wear a face mask at all times, and practice social distancing while on the job.
  • The CDC removed guidance for doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs recommended by President Donald Trump to treat COVID-19 that lack evidence to support their efficacy.
  • HHS announced the first contract for ventilator production rated under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to General Motors (GM). GM’s contract, at a total contract price of $489.4 million, is for 30,000 ventilators to be delivered to the SNS by the end of August, with a production schedule allowing for the delivery of 6,132 ventilators by June 1st.
  • Soon after, HHS announced the second contract for ventilator production rated under the DPA to Philips. Philips’s contract for $646.7 million is for a production schedule allowing for the delivery of 2,500 ventilators to the SNS by the end of May, and a total of 43,000 ventilators to be delivered by the end of December. 
  • On Monday April 7 White House press briefing, President Donald Trump criticized the WHO for being slow to respond to the pandemic and accused the organization of being “China-centric.” He followed that by saying the U.S. will be putting a hold on giving money to the WHO.
  • President Trump removed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who had been tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion stimulus package spending. In his place, the President has named the EPA’s inspector general, Sean O’Donnell, as the new acting inspector general for the DoD.
  • The CDC released several new guidance pages and resources today including: PPE burn rate calculator, guidelines for running essential errands, interim additional guidance for outpatient and ambulatory care settings, and more.
  • Today, the FDA approved an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for 200mg hydroxychloroquine tablets. The agency had recently posted information about hydroxychloroquine shortages due to a significant surge in demand, and is working with manufacturers to get supply under control.
  • The FDA continues to update its COVID-19 Q&A page here and has published its April 7th roundup here.
  • CMS announced it has delivered near $34 billion in the past week to frontline health care providers battling COVID-19. The funds have been provided through the expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.
  • The CDC is now urging all Americans to wear a face covering (ideally a non-medical mask or scarf covering their mouth and nose) when they leave their homes. They have published a Q&A page for cloth face coverings and have updated the prevention page to include guidance on the use of cloth face coverings as a means to mitigate spread of COVID-19.
  • The FDA held a webinar with device manufacturers and industry partners to discuss its guidance on enforcement policy for PPE during COVID-19. Recording and transcript of the webinar can be found here.
  • HHS also reported its planned purchase of the ID NOW COVID-19 rapid point-of-care test, developed by Abbott Diagnostics Scarborough Inc. The ID NOW test, which provides results in under 13 minutes, will be distributed to public health labs in every state and territory.
  • CMS released a video providing answers to common questions about the Medicare telehealth services benefit.
  • CMS approved a number of additional state waivers to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including Section 1135 Medicaid waivers, Appendix K waivers for programs that care for elderly, and blanket waivers that permit Medicare-enrolled Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) to temporarily enroll as hospitals.
  • The CDC has started publishing “COVIDView,” a weekly surveillance summary of U.S. COVID-19 activity. The report summarizes and interprets key indicators including information related to COVID-19 outpatient visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as laboratory data.
  • The CDC has also released new guidance for how cruise ship passengers will be able to travel home. Previously, passengers who were exposed to COVID-19 but showed no symptoms were allowed to travel home on commercial flights if they had no fever. With the newly released guidance, cruise companies will have to charter flights to return passengers to their home cities. The decision was released as 1,000 passengers were going to disembark the Coral Princess, which docked in Miami on Saturday.
  • HUD announced new CARES Act mortgage payment relief options for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages who are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    • HUD also issued availability of regulatory waivers for Continuum of Care, Emergency Solutions Grant, Housing for Persons with AIDS, and Consolidated Plan requirements.
  • Members of Congress are now looking ahead to a fourth supplemental funding package. House Dems are expected to take the lead on a fourth package, and Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the infrastructure framework from January will be the starting point of whatever bill they introduce. For a more thorough update on the legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update from Sierra Fuller. If you do not already receive that update and would like to subscribe, please email sfuller@cgagroup.com.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is drafting legislation to establish a 9/11-style independent commission to review the country’s coronavirus response. The legislation is “very preliminary” and will likely not be released until the coronavirus crisis has subsided.
  • The FDA approved the first test for coronavirus antibodies for use in the U.S. While current tests can tell if a person is still infected, the Cellex antibody test is the first to receive authorization and can tell whether a patient has ever been exposed and if they might have some immunity.
    • A similar test, created by BioMedomics, has not been reviewed by the FDA but is permitted for distribution and use under the public health emergency guidance the agency issued on March 16th.
  • The FDA has published guidance to address the need for blood during the pandemic.
  • FEMA told the House Oversight Committee today that the 100,000 ventilators promised by President Trump will not be available until June. Following the release of this information, the President invoked the Defense Production Act, which directs General Electric Co., Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Medtronic Public Limited Co., ResMed Inc., Royal Philips N.V., and Vyaire Medical Inc. to make ventilators. It also directs acting Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf and HHS Sec. Alex Azar to "use any and all authority available under the Act to facilitate the supply of materials" to these companies.
  • Drs. Tony Fauci and Debbie Birx, two of the leading health officials on COVID-19 issues for the U.S. government, agree that the virus could ultimately kill between 100,000-240,000 Americans as predicted by models. They expect deaths to peak in about two more weeks.
  • Dr. Fauci has reportedly required increased security due to threats to his personal safety as well as unwelcome communication from fervent admirers.
  • FEMA has a rumor control website to discern factual claims from fictional ones in regard to COVID-19.
  • The FDA today announced multiple actions taken in the ongoing response effort to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the development of reference sequence data for the U.S., a constituent update regarding guidance for flexibility for chain restaurants, a warning letter to Neuro XPF (cannabidiol products), and a diagnostics update.
  • The HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and U.S. Surgeon General issued an open letter to the health care community stressing the need to aggressively implement the following four measures:
    • Rigorous adherence to all social distancing measures, including limitations on gatherings and travel. This is the best way to reduce infections and thus demand for ventilators.
    • Optimize the use of mechanical ventilators, which includes canceling elective surgeries as well as transitioning other medical equipment for mechanical support for respiratory failure.
    • Judicious, data-driven requests and usage of the SNS of ventilators and equipment. To be able to allocate ventilators where they are most needed, all states must be data-driven in their requests based on the actual capacity for mechanical ventilation, including anesthesia machine conversions.
    • Increasing the capacity of the SNS through federal procurement. The SNS will receive at least an additional 20,000 mechanical ventilators by mid-May 2020.
  • The FDA created the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP), as the federal government’s primary organization to develop and test COVID-19 treatments. CTAP will have a major focus on public private partnerships. CTAP is currently exploring antiviral drugs like remdesivir that might treat the specific virus, as well as host targets, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor inhibitors that may be helpful in reducing lung inflammation and improving lung function in COVID-19 patients. Work is also ongoing to evaluate whether existing therapies such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (with or without other medications) help treat patients with COVID-19.
  • President Trump on Sunday issued a major disaster declaration for Washington, D.C., marking the 22nd state/territory to receive a major disaster declaration and federal assistance from FEMA. The declaration allows states and territories to access federal funds to combat the coronavirus.
  • The Capitol Visitor Center and House and Senate office buildings will be closed to the public though May 1st.
  • On Friday March 27, the House passed and the President signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill text is available here, and a section-by-section is here
  • President Trump has extended the federal government’s social-distancing guidelines through the end of April.
  • The CDC issued a domestic travel advisory for residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Individuals from those three states are urged to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for two weeks effective yesterday. The travel advisory does not apply to essential employees.
  • CMS announced an array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to increase flexibility within the health care system and improve response to COVID-19. 
  • CMS announced the expansion of its accelerated and advanced payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat COVID-19. The program expansion includes changes from the recently enacted CARES Act.
  • CMS sent a letter to the nation’s hospitals on behalf of Vice President Pence requesting that they increase their data reporting. The Administration is requesting that hospitals report COVID-19 testing data to HHS, in addition to daily reporting regarding bed capacity and supplies to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity Module.
  • FEMA has a “How to Help” website for COVID-19 which includes donations, volunteering, and private sector subcategories.
  • The EPA is relaxing enforcement of multiple environmental regulations because of worker shortages and travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, per a memo circulated today. This has caused a stir in the environmental activism community as many facilities benefiting from the relaxed standards are still operating under full capacity.
  • President Trump sent a letter to America’s governors today saying the federal government hoped to provide a risk assessment for individual counties in conjunction with increased testing capabilities. In the letter, the President says that counties will be classified as high, medium or low risk to help local policymakers make decisions about whether to maintain, increase, or relax social distancing standards.
  • HHS banned the hoarding or price-gouging of N95 respirator masks, ventilators, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The hoarding ban includes hydroxychloroquine after reports of the drug selling out at pharmacies. The list of banned materials can be found here.
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS issued guidance on how covered entities may disclose protected health information about an individual who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities in compliance with HIPAA.
  • On March 25, the USTR announced the U.S. would grant tariff exclusions for more medical products from China. The new categories of medical equipment excluded from tariffs include refillable dispensers, sterile urology drain bags, ice bags, and wristbands.
  • The FDA announced multiple actions taken in its ongoing response effort to COVID-19.
  • The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority allows the FDA to help strengthen the nation’s public health protections against CBRN threats by facilitating the availability and use of MCMs needed during public health emergencies. Click here for a list of current EUAs.
  • Today, the FDA took action to increase U.S. supplies to support the U.S. response to COVID-19 by providing instructions to manufacturers importing personal protective equipment and other devices.
  • HHS ASPR is providing $100 million to support the National Special Pathogen System (NSPS), which will leverage infrastructure set up for the U.S. Ebola response in order to assist health departments and hospital systems across the country. 
  • CMS approved Medicaid Section 1135 waivers for 11 states, bringing the total number of states approved for waivers to 13. The waivers offer states flexibilities to focus their resources on combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CDC continues to update its list of FAQ for healthcare professionals.
  • CMS announced a new inspection process for nursing homes and healthcare facilities that includes a self-assessment tool for providers. The new inspection plans come following a CMS review of the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. CMS is temporarily postponing routine inspections at healthcare facilities to focus on prioritized inspections. 
  • The NIH launched a website with educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The website contains virtual safety training for frontline responders who must continue working despite coronavirus.
  • The White House introduced the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium to provide COVID-19 researchers worldwide with access to high performance computing resources. Researchers may submit COVID-19 research proposals to the consortium which will then be reviewed and matched with computing resources.
  • The IRS temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and stopped face-to-face service through the country. The IRS will continue to process tax returns, issue refunds, and help taxpayers to the “greatest extent possible.”
  • The Census Bureau has paused all hiring and on-boarding for nearly 600,000 employees due to COVID-19 until at least April 1st.

Military/Defense

Military/Defense

  • President Trump announced he will extend National Guard orders authorizing domestic COVID-19 response missions through mid-August amid concerns that a previous end date would have complicated state support missions and denied the Guardsmen benefits.
  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said some service members who test positive for antibodies may be asked to donate plasma for treatment of their fellow troops.
  • The Air Force has delayed the date airmen are required to wear certain parts of the new Operational Camouflage Uniform in an effort to reduce stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The U.S. Army’s newest short-range air defense system, the Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD), will be delayed due to COVID-19.
    • Army acquisition head Bruce Jette said programs in the two largest categories of acquisition programs remain on track for first unit equipped.
  • VA Sec. Robert Wilkie defended the Department’s use of hydroxychloroquine on veterans and promised to continue offering the drug to COVID-19 patients who have no other option.
  • The DoD has begun lifting its stop-movement order issued across the Department in March. States, districts, and territories will be evaluated based on the White House’s reopening plan with troops and their families allowed to travel once their location is deemed safe. A fact sheet on the DoD’s travel restrictions can be found here.
  • Officials from the National Guard Association of the United States pressed Congress to act quickly on pending bipartisan legislation that would provide Guardsmen and their families with six months of Tricare coverage after they leave federal Title 32 active duty.
  • VA Sec. Robert Wilkie is scheduled to testify on Thursday before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the VA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • VA officials said they plan to continue using hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients despite medical studies showing significant health risks associated with the drug. The decision comes as active cases of COVID-19 continue to drop at department hospitals while deaths connected to the illness keep increasing. 
  • Largely due to the dent in manpower from COVID-19, the general helming Army Recruiting Command is preparing a massive virtual hiring event this summer after the Army’s 245th birthday on June 14th.
  • Travel restrictions and closures related to COVID-19 hit CAE’s civil training and defense segments, fueling a 44.3 percent decline in net income in its fourth quarter. 
  • Director of the DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan said the military’s AI efforts could play a significant role in tracking and spotting pandemics in the future.
  • Defense Sec. Mark Esper issued guidance that allows military base commanders to begin planning returning to normal operations in the COVID-19 environment.
  • Defense Under Sec. for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan said the military expects a manning shortfall this year as the COVID-19 pandemic requires the services to reduce their intake of new troops.
  • VA researchers are launching clinical trials to see whether cancer prostate drug Degarelix (also labeled Firmagon) could help prevent adverse health effects from COVID-19 in men.
  • The USNS Mercy departed Los Angeles after nearly six weeks of assisting the area’s COVID-19 response.
  • Five sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive again for COVID-19 after they had already recovered and were allowed to return to the ship.
  • President Trump’s nominee for Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    • Mr. Braithwaite vowed to improve public trust in leadership of the service after years of controversies including a recent COVID-19 outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
  • The Military Entrance Processing Command updated its policy for accessing COVID-19 survivors, loosening restrictions to prohibit accession to only those who were hospitalized because of complications.
  • House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said service members should expect a 3 percent pay raise starting next January under the White House’s federal budget plan.
  • The Navy League today began a five-day virtual conference featuring top Navy leaders outlining research and procurement opportunities for small businesses. The virtual conference takes place daily from 3:00 PM-4:00 PM ET.
  • Defense Secretary Esper held a virtual conversation with the Brookings Institution on U.S. defense policy, readiness amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the investments needed to fight the wars of the future
    • Sec. Esper warned that the U.S. military must adapt to the “new normal” of coronavirus or face larger impacts to readiness in years to come.
  • Boeing said it expects a $168 million cost overrun on the new Air Force One plans due to workforce shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Three major defense contractors reported that they are bracing for economic losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeing and General Dynamics both reported sizable revenue decreases in the first quarter of 2020, while Northrop Grumman reduced its projections for the full year by nearly $400 million due to supply chain disruptions.
  • The USNS Comfort has left Manhattan after spending the last month supporting the region’s COVID-19 efforts.
  • The Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds will be conducting flyovers over Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta on Saturday to honor essential workers and health care personnel. D.C. residents can expect the flyover at 11:45 am, lasting approximately 20 minutes.
  • The U.S. Naval Academy announced this year’s commissioning events will be held over a 10-day period with graduating midshipmen separated into five groups to comply with social distancing measures.
  • There are now 47 confirmed COVID-19 cases among sailors aboard the destroyer USS Kidd, the second Navy ship with a COVID-19 outbreak. The destroyer, which only saw its first confirmed COVID-19 case on April 23rd, is expected to port in San Diego this week to conduct deep cleaning.
  • The USNS Mercy offloaded its last remaining patients this weekend as it prepares to leave Manhattan for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated just 182 patients.
  • Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday recommended that Capt. Brett Crozier be restored to command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Capt. Crozier was relieved of duty April 2nd following the leak of his memo pleading to Navy officials for help with a COVID-19 outbreak on the carrier.
    • As of today, 840 sailors assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The USS Kidd, a Navy destroyer operating near South America, has been forced into port after 18 sailors tested positive for COVID-19.
    • This marks the second such instance involving a deployed naval warship sidelined due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy said the service expects no delay in the fielding of future weapons despite supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Sec. McCarthy also said a “rigorous” review of acquisition programs for the 2022 budget request is still on schedule.
  • The DoD reported 3,725 confirmed COVID-19 cases among service members, up 147 from yesterday. The military’s infection rate – 1,773-per-million – is lower than that of the general population – 2,545-per-million.
    • With 100 percent of the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s 4,800-sailor crew tested for the virus, 840 tests have come back positive.
  • The Army said nearly 250 enlisted and officers have requested to withdraw their retirements or resignations as the service offers voluntary extensions to service contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A study across VA hospitals nationwide found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Twenty-eight percent of patients who received the drug died, compared with 11 percent of patients who received standard care.
    • The fatality rate among VA patients who contract the virus – 6.5 percent – continues to be higher than the general public – 5 percent.
  • The Marine Corps is cancelling the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) requirement for this semi-annual period in accordance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
  • The Professional Services Council will host a virtual meeting tomorrow to discuss implementation issues regarding the DoD Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program.
  • The DoD expects to see a three-month delay across the majority of its Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) portfolio due to workforce shortages and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A DoD spokesperson said most companies in its supply chain will be able to maintain the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for $1,000 per year or less. Under the program, companies will be required to obtain a CMMC assessment from a third-party auditing firm and then a subsequent certification from the newly established CMMC accreditation body before they can win defense contracts. DoD hopes to have CMMC certifications in every defense contract by 2025. 
  • The Navy has established a “rapid action team” to help implement new technologies in shipyards and aboard ships in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team will help Naval Sea Systems Command approve the use of new technology to ensure compliance with health guidelines.
  • For the first time, the number of new recoveries among service members – 155 – exceeded the number of new cases – 100. Twenty percent of the 2,889 troops diagnosed so far have recovered.
  • The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is testing three COVID-19 vaccine prototypes on small animals and is preparing to select one candidate for initial human testing.
  • Dozens of House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to DOJ, DoD, and DHS urging the Trump Administration to halt construction on the southern border wall during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • DHS and USDA announced a temporary rule change that allows H-2A petitioners with a valid temporary labor certification to employ certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status immediately after USCIS receives the H-2A petition. The rule change also allows H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the U.S.
  • There are now over 2,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases among service members, up 8 percent from yesterday. DoD’s total COVID-19 cases, which includes troops, civilians, dependents and contractors, is 5,088.
    • DoD continues to provide daily updates on total cases across the Department, but does not disclose specific figures at the unit, installation, or combatant command level, citing the need for “operational security.”
  • The sailor who was aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and moved to the ICU last week has died from COVID-19. The Navy today reported 585 confirmed COVID-19 cases on USS Theodore Roosevelt, up from roughly 400 on Friday.
  • DoD on Saturday authorized its first Defense Production Act Title 3 project responding to COVID-19 with a $133 million investment to increase U.S. domestic N95 mask production by 39 million over the next 90 days. Title 3 of the Defense Production Act allows the president “to incentivize the domestic industrial base to expand the production and supply of critical materials and goods.”
  • A sailor with COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt has been moved to the ICU after being found unconscious in isolation. Roughly 400 sailors aboard the ship have tested positive for the virus.
    • Deputy Defense Sec. David Norquist said the outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt is unlikely to be a “one-of-a-kind issue.”
  • The Army field hospital dispatched to Seattle less than two weeks ago will be returned to the federal government after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said his state’s hospitals should have adequate surge capacity. The soldiers deployed to Washington will prepare for new assignments as the Army Corps of Engineers attempts to build overflow facilities in cities that have yet to see their peak in coronavirus cases.
  • The Army is offering up to $100,000 cash prizes for low-cost, rugged ventilator ideas from any American business in a competition dubbed the “COVID-19 Ventilator Challenge.”
  • There are now nearly 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among service members after the Pentagon today reported its largest 24-hour increase. The military’s infection rate is 940-per-million, compared to the general U.S. rate of 1,144-per-million.
  • The Air Force has shortened the length of Basic Military Training (BMT) to restructure and enhance social distancing requirements. Trainees will now graduate after seven weeks rather than eight and a half.
  • In a phone briefing today, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite cautioned that the Corps is “beginning to run out of time” to build facilities that take hospital overflow. Lt. Gen. Semonite warned there are hundreds of proposed sites that may not be built until after states have seen their peak in COVID-19 cases.
  • Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly submitted his resignation after leaked audio revealed him calling ousted aircraft carrier commander Capt. Brett Crozier “stupid” in an address to the ship’s crew. Capt. Crozier was relieved of duty last week following the leak of his memo pleading to Navy officials for help with a COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. 
  • A crewmember onboard the USNS Comfort has tested positive for coronavirus. The hospital ship, docked in Manhattan, is set to accept coronavirus patients after initially serving only non-COVID-19 patients.
  • House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) called on DoD to play a larger role in coronavirus testing, citing the Department’s wartime experience and infrastructure.
  • There are now 1,435 confirmed COVID-19 cases among service members, up from 978 on Friday. The military’s infection rate is 683-per-million, compared to the general U.S. rate of 932-per-million. 
  • The Army has halted the shipment of new recruits to basic combat training. The pause will not affect those already at basic training locations, where drill sergeants continue to practice social distancing and medical screening of recruits.
  • Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger said Marines “must continue to train” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Marine Corps recruiting efforts have gone virtual, but Gen. Berger has left COVID-19 decisions to local commanders.
  • Capt. Brett E. Crozier, the Navy captain who was removed from command of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • President Trump said 1,000 additional military personnel are being deployed to New York to help the city manage the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Defense Sec. Mark Esper sent a memo today that orders military personnel and other individuals on DoD property to wear cloth face coverings in light of the CDC’s COVID-19 guidance. The memo states that individuals on DoD property will have to wear face masks when they are not able to maintain the recommended six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers. The memo also advises DoD employees, family members, and contractors to follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings.

International Affairs

International Affairs

  • Spain's Health Minister said the country will start lifting restrictions on Monday. 
  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that there will be a comprehensive easing of  restrictions starting June 1st. Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen on June 1st, but bars and hookah cafés will remain closed. Additionally, a travel restriction prohibiting entry and exits from major metropolitan areas including Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir will be lifted.
  • French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said parks will reopen starting this Saturday, and beaches, lakes, sporting facilities, museums, and monuments will reopen on June 2nd. He added that gatherings must be limited to 10 people and the capacity of outdoor spaces will be limited to 5,000 people, under the condition that social distancing rules are enforced. It will be up to local mayors and regional officials to decide if masks should be mandatory for people visiting parks, beaches, and lakes. 
  • Houses of worship in Jordan will be allowed to reopen under public safety controls starting June 5th. Mosques will initially reopen for Friday prayers on June 5th, and other prayers will be allowed gradually.
  • New Zealand now has zero COVID-19 hospital patients. There are still a couple dozen active cases in the country, but those patients are not being treated in a hospital.
  • Both chambers of the French Parliament voted in favor of the "StopCovid" app today, despite the contact tracing app being criticized by opposition parties for its infringements on individual freedoms. French digital rights association La Quadrature du Net said that between 60 and 80 percent of the population would need to use the app for it to help mitigate COVID-19.
  • According to Spain's top COVID-19 health ministry official, mortality rates in Spain were 55 percent higher than usual between March 10th and May 10th of this year. Not all of those additional deaths can be linked directly to COVID-19, but many of them are likely due to people not wanting to go to hospitals or get medical assistance during the peak of the pandemic. 
  • Over the long weekend, the number of global COVID-19 cases passed 5 million. 
  • The WHO Regional Office for Africa has provided training for Tanzanian health workers to equip them with skills for caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. A total of 160 health workers in Tanzania attended a three-day virtual training session organized by the Ministry of Health and the WHO.
  • The WHO Regional Office for Europe along with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that they will continue to repurpose their influenza surveillance systems to also detect the COVID-19 virus.
  • Officials in Wuhan have so far tested 6.5 million residents of their 11 million goal. As of this afternoon, only 200 tests have returned positive. 
  • 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.
  • As COVID-19 cases in South American countries continue to rise, strict “lockdowns” and associated job losses have disproportionately affected migrant workers from Venezuela. About 40,000 migrant Venezuelan workers have been repatriated home, and Venezuela is currently prioritizing bringing homeless migrant workers home from Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. 
  • Sweden's Public Health Authority released preliminary results from a serological study tracking levels of COVID-19 antibodies in different regions across the country. 
  • International aid confederation Oxfam will withdraw from 18 countries stating that its finances having been “seriously impacted” by COVID-19, and that its affiliates had been canceling fund-raising events, closing shops, ordering furloughs, and curbing travel. Oxfam’s footprint will shrink to 48 countries, and will exit additional programs over time in countries that include Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Rwanda, and Thailand.
  • The WHO reported 106,000 cases in the last 24 hours – the most in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of the cases are associated with just four countries.
  • In Santiago, Chile, protesters gathered to call attention to a lack of food and government aid during the recently implemented COVID-19 "lockdown" in Chile’s capital city. Following the protest, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera reportedly committed to increasing aid to the affected population, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable among them.
  • Brazil’s Minister of Health, Nelson Teich, resigned from his position after only several weeks in office. Dr. Teich and his predecessor were reportedly pressured by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine and to work with the state governors to lift social distancing restrictions, which may have contributed to their respective decisions to resign.
  • Slovenia declared an end to its COVID-19 pandemic late Thursday night. Along with lifting social distancing measures, Slovenia also removed the mandatory 7-day quarantine for travelers arriving from Europe that had been in place since mid-April.
  • Africa could face as many as 250 million COVID-19 cases and 190,000 deaths across Africa in the first year of the pandemic, according to a recently published modeling study. As of April 29th, 45 of the 47 countries in the WHO Africa Region have reported cases of COVID-19.
  • Chile's capital city, Santiago, has been placed under complete lockdown with a mandatory quarantine imposed for the entire city after a 60 percent increase in COVID-19 incidence. 
  • COVID-19 cases have reportedly been detected in individuals living in or near Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. These camps are home to nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees, and one expert estimates that the population density could be 8 times that of Wuhan, China.
  • The world recorded its highest number of new cases in more than two weeks.
  • After the U.S. FDA issued an emergency use authorization for treating COVID-19 patients with remdesivir, Japan approved the drug for treatment as well.   
  • Data from England and Wales show that black individuals are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people. Britain’s Office of National Statistics found two of the major factors to be social determinants of health and underlying health issues.
  • Afghanistan’s health minister, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Poland has postponed its presidential election, which was originally supposed to take place this Sunday. It is now expected to be put off until June at the earliest, and officials are still debating how to conduct the contest safely and fairly amid the pandemic.
  • Canada is sending hundreds more troops to long-term care centers in Quebec and Ontario as COVID-19 outbreaks contribute to a growing crisis in senior homes.
  • Tomorrow, May 5th, is World Hand Hygiene Day. In observation of the day, UNICEF is mobilizing global RCCE partners to scale up handwashing outreach for COVID-19 prevention and Operationalization of the interim recommendations on obligatory hand hygiene against transmission of COVID-19.
  • More than a dozen countries began lifting social distancing restrictions today.
  • Markets and malls will reopen in Israel on Thursday, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Additionally, citizens will no longer be required to remain within 100 meters of their homes, and gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted, as well as weddings of up to 50 people. Kindergarten and daycares will open on Sunday, and sports and leisure facilities will gradually reopen by mid-June. PM Netanyahu said all of this is dependent on cases remaining on a downward trend.
  • In India, businesses, local transportation, and activities like weddings are allowed to resume in areas that have minimal or no known infections. Liquor stores were also allowed to open today, which led to massive crowds. India is anticipating more of these occurrences as their lockdown has been one of the most serious in the world.
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the country’s state of emergency through the end of the month.
  • Singapore reported 528 new COVID-19 cases, 488 (92.4 percent) of whom are residents in dormitories. Migrant workers living in these dormitories continue to drive Singapore’s accelerating epidemic; however, community transmission outside of these facilities remains low (9 new community cases reported).
  • WHO AMRO/PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne, has urged for vaccination programs to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic: “If we fall behind on routine immunizations, particularly for children, we risk outbreaks, thus overwhelming hospitals and clinics with preventable diseases in addition to COVID-19.” Her full statement is available here.
  • The World Bank is predicting that global poverty rates will rise for the first time in over 20 years. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic lockdowns could land nearly 8 percent of the world’s population in poverty.
    • On a similar note, the top relief official at the United Nations says it will probably take $90 billion in humanitarian aid to protect vulnerable populations from the economic devastation of the pandemic.
  • More than a million Australians have downloaded a coronavirus contact tracing app within hours of it being released by the government. The COVIDSafe smartphone app uses a Bluetooth wireless signal to exchange a "digital handshake" with another user when they come within five feet. The app then logs this contact and encrypts it.
  • Users will be notified if they have had more than 15 minutes of close contact with another user who tests positive.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new rent subsidy program which would provide financial resources to property owners and businesses to cover rent payments. The program would pay 50 percent of the rent for three months to the building owners, but it requires them to reduce the rent cost and refrain from evicting tenants. The businesses themselves would be required to cover the remaining rent.
  • The Italian Association of Doctors said today that at least 150 doctors have died of COVID-19 and health care professionals account for about 10 percent of the country’s infections.
  • Leaders of the EU have yet to come to an agreement on an economic recovery program for member states. Member countries met virtually yesterday to review a number of proposals, and made significant progress toward an agreement.
  • Today the WHO announced the initiation of the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator to promote the rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics, as well as equitable access to those treatments. The U.S. will not be a formal member of the partnership, but will support international efforts to develop and produce a vaccine.
  • WHO has published an interim guidance “COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for competent authorities responsible for national food safety control systems.” The guidance document provides advice and recommendations for national food safety authorities to optimize food control functions and prioritize critical services that preserve the integrity of food safety systems.
  • According to the WHO situation report, Japan updated its reporting for COVID-19 deaths to include both confirmed cases as well as cases whose “data matching and verification are in progress” which presumably corresponds to suspected COVID-19 deaths. The notable increase in number of deaths reported from Japan can be attributed to this change.
  • WHO has published guidance “Addressing Human Rights as Key to the COVID-19 Response.” The guidance document highlights the importance of integrating a human rights-based approach into the COVID-19 response and highlights key considerations in relation to addressing stigma and discrimination, prevention of violence against women, support for vulnerable populations, quarantine and restrictive measures, and shortages of supplies and equipment.
  • The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has launched a GOARN COVID-19 Knowledge hub. The hub is designed as a central repository of quality public health information, guidance, tools, and webinars which can be accessed freely at any point.
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said today that the country was likely to begin easing lockdown measures starting May 4th. Officials in the south, where there is a higher concentration of poor individuals, fear that easing travel restrictions will expose their region. Before COVID-19, unemployment in southern Italy was already at 18 percent.
  • According to a report by the World Food Program, the number of people facing acute hunger this year could likely double as a result of COVID-19. About 265 million people in low- and middle-income nations could face starvation by the end of 2020, a doubling of the 135 million who already faced acute food insecurity in 2019.
  • In Germany, smaller stores were allowed to open for the first time in nearly a month, under initial measures to ease restrictions imposed back in March. Individuals still must stay at least five feet from one another at all times until the end of this month.
  • Norway, the Czech Republic, and Denmark each also lifted some social distancing restrictions today.
  • Singapore’s COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the last few days, totaling more than 8,000 as of today. The majority of new infections have come from crowded dormitories where low-paid migrant laborers from South Asia and China live.
  • Turkey has surpassed China in its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the tally passing 90,000 today. The death total is now at least 2,140 but, as is the case with most countries’ data at this point, the true death toll may be much higher.
  • China’s official death toll from COVID-19 skyrocketed today when Wuhan announced a major revision that added nearly 1,300 fatalities to its total. The new figures resulted from an in-depth review of deaths resulting in health officials raising the official toll in Wuhan by 50 percent to 3,869 deaths. While China has yet to update its national totals, the revised numbers push up China’s total to 4,632 deaths from a previously reported 3,342.
  • Germany’s public health institute said the country’s rate of COVID-19 spread had dropped below a crucial threshold, potentially indicating control over spread. This week, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the first steps to ease restrictions, allowing some stores to reopen on Monday and high school students to return to classrooms to prepare for or take exams. 
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has said his country is considering using a COVID-19 tracing app, similar to those used in parts of Asia, to help get infection rates under control. Those who argue in favor of the app say that it is fair to infringe on the privacy of people who are infected rather than inhibit the freedom of society as a whole. There remain concerns that the app, relying mainly on a sense of civic duty, will be so watered down in France that it will prove ineffective.
  • Global Cases:  5,593,631       Total Deaths:  353,334

Grants/Funding

FEMA Support

Suppliers, donors and clients, see the following website: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help

On the website under private sector you will find:

  • To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to covidsupplies@fema.dhs.gov.
  • If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide us details on what you are offering.
  • If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email nbeoc@max.gov.
  • If you are a hospital and other companies in need of medical supplies, contact your state Department of Public Health and/or Emergency Management.
  • For non-medical supplies, services or equipment, if you are interested in doing business with FEMA, visit our Industry Liaison Program.

SBA Disaster Loan Funding

Small businesses in ANY state and territory may apply for the disaster loans online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Due to heavy usage, it is best for companies to go onto the site at night.  If possible always apply online.

  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselors can help companies complete disaster applications remotely. Contact your local SBDC.
  • For anyone already having an current  SBA disaster loan, it is deferred until 12/31/2020.

For individual questions on disaster loans, companies can call, email or use the website:
Online:  SBA.gov/Disaster 
Email:    disastercustomerservice@sba.gov
Call:       1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339)

Additional information about SBA assistance:

  • Borrowers with a current SBA 504  or 7(a) business loan can contact their lender to request a deferral for up six months.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million for working capital to help support small businesses overcome the temporary loss of working capital they are experiencing.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
  • SBA offers long-term loans up to a maximum of 30 years.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

Working Capital Loan Guarantee Program

Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank)

 https://www.exim.gov/fact-sheet-exim-covid-19-assistance

Working Capital Loan Guarantees can empower exporters to unlock cash flow and take on new business abroad. Exporters can borrow more with the same collateral, secure performance, bid bonds needed to win projects, and increase global competitiveness.

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
U.S. Department of the Treasury

Following President Donald J. Trump's emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

CDFA's COVID-19 Comprehensive Recovery Strategy
Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA)

CDFA has developed a set of policy proposals that would allow state and local governments, through development finance agencies, to be immediate problem solvers that can help alleviate the extreme economic challenges facing small businesses and communities to put America securely on the path to recovery.

State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) SSBCI was a federal financing program that delivered flexible, affordable capital to small businesses around the country. The expiration of the SSBCI Program in 2017 left a void in the marketplace for affordable small business loans. Reauthorization of SSBCI is one of the key tenets of CDFA’s COVID-19 Comprehensive Recovery Strategy.  Small Business Access to Capital Act of 2020 (S. 3551) would provide $3 billion in funds to a reauthorized SSBCI Program and provide immediate access to capital for small businesses that desperately need it. The programs created by states under the original SSBCI are still in operation and would be ready to immediately deploy capital to businesses in need. Reauthorization is pending.

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
U.S. Department of the Treasury

Following President Donald J. Trump's emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

Economic Development Administration (EDA)

As of March 26, the EDA had yet to issue specific guidance for COVID-19 related programs but, based on past history is likely to do so. Additional information may be found at the EDA Disaster Recovery website:  https://www.eda.gov/disaster-recovery/

Grants/Funding

Lifestyle & Economy

Lifestyle and Economy

  • According to a senior administration official, the White House won’t issue updated economic projections this summer because of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The official said COVID-19 has resulted in fluctuating economic data, and that White House projections wouldn’t provide a meaningful snapshot of the economy. 
  • The Commerce Department reported the U.S. GDP fell at a 5.0% annual rate in the first quarter, adjusted for seasonality and inflation.
  • Initial claims for unemployment benefits declined to a seasonally adjusted 2.1 million last week from 2.4 million the prior week.
  • The American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, and dozens of other higher education groups sent a letter to lawmakers on Thursday expressing “fears of huge transactional costs associated with defending against COVID-19 spread lawsuits” without more legal protections. The action comes as institutions that have lost millions in revenue from closures are facing huge financial pressures to reopen and are trying to figure out how to do so while protecting the health of students and staff.
  • U.S. stocks surged today on optimism that economic activity is gathering steam and authorities may offer more stimulus to bolster the recovery. The S&P 500 closed out above 3000 for the first time in nearly three months.
  • A recent poll of nearly 2,000 voters from May showed that, across political parties, people largely believe COVID-19 testing should be required for employees and students returning to their places of work and study. Democrats who participated in the poll were about 20 percent more likely than their republican counterparts to say they backed mandatory testing. 
  • A scientific brief has been published by WHO investigating any association between smoking and an increased risk for COVID-19. At the time of this review, the available evidence suggests that in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death.
  • The stock market got a bit of a boost today, with the S&P 500 gaining 1.2 percent and crude oil prices on the rise.
    • Likely due to the lifting of travel restrictions, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both gained more than 10 percent. 
  • The WHO announced it would temporarily suspend the use of hydroxychloroquine following a recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet which raised safety concerns regarding the drug as a COVID-19 treatment. 
  • A new study found that there are four main risk factors that make COVID-19 victims more likely to have severe or life-threatening symptoms: age, sex, weight, and underlying illness. The study took into account data from more than 20,000 patients across 208 hospitals.  
  • Novavax said yesterday it has started the Phase 1 clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate and has enrolled the trial’s first participants, with preliminary results slated for July.
  • 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.
  • An additional 2.4 million individuals filed for unemployment last week, bringing the nine-week total to 38.6 million. 
  • Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said today that the COVID-19 pandemic poses the most serious threat “in our lifetimes” to the Federal Reserve’s goals of maintaining strong employment and stable prices.
  • Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are anticipating a busy hurricane season for the Atlantic. As has happened in India and Bangladesh, COVID-19 is expected to be a barrier in recovery efforts. For example, FEMA can currently only deploy 38 percent of staff. There are other concerns about the virus spreading in shelters and how to deal with evacuations.  
  • Ford Motors sent workers home at Chicago and Dearborn plants today after employees tested positive for COVID-19. The two employees who tested positive had passed a temperature check the day before. 
  • National Nurses United recently conducted a survey in which they found that many nurses remain fearful of becoming ill because they do not have the equipment they need to remain safe. The survey, conducted between April 15th and May 10th, includes responses from both union members and nonunion nurses in all 50 states. The findings showed that a staggering 87 percent of respondents reported having to reuse PPE, including respirators, a practice that the nurses said would not have been allowed before the pandemic.
  • Health experts are warning that stagnant plumbing systems in emptied office buildings could pose a threat when employees return. Bacteria — including the type that causes the respiratory condition Legionnaires’ disease — can build up if not properly addressed.
  • The Federal Reserve said industrial production, a measure of factory, mining, and utility output, decreased a seasonally adjusted 11.2 percent in April from the prior month.
  • According to recent government data, retail sales dropped by 16.4 percent in April after dropping over 8 percent in March. This is the biggest two-month plunge on record.
    • J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy today, the largest retailer to do so thus far. 
  • Retail workers across the country are facing violence while trying to enforce public health guidelines in their stores. A woman in Pennsylvania was punched in the face by a man refusing to wear a mask, a security guard in Michigan was shot and killed after insisting a customer put on a mask, and an employee in California wound up with a broken arm after helping to remove two customers who would not wear masks. 
  • Recent data show that women have so far been more vulnerable to job losses, because sectors with more women, such as education, leisure, and hospitality, have been hardest hit by social-distancing measures.
  • Air Canada will be reducing its workforce by 50-60 percent after having to reduce flight schedules by 95 percent. 
  • The Department of Labor reported that nearly 3.2 million more Americans were added to state jobless rolls last week. Economists now expect the monthly jobs report tomorrow to put the official April unemployment rate at 15 percent or higher — a Depression-era level.
  • Frontier Airlines announced today that they plan to take passengers’ temperatures before boarding commercial flights. Beginning June 1st, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be denied boarding.
  • Starting Monday, Amtrak will require passengers to wear face coverings in stations and on trains and buses. The coverings can be removed only when passengers are eating in designated areas, in private rooms, or when seated alone or with a companion in their own pair of seats.
  • Several major sports league announced plans to resume play. The National Football League directed teams to develop plans to reopen training facilities on May 15th.
  • Food and consumer products trade groups sent a letter to Vice President Pence asking for more guidance on the steps they should take as they prepare to reopen. The groups wrote that the lack of “central coordination” from different agencies make it “extremely” difficult for companies to develop detailed response plans.
  • So far in the second round of PPP loans, about 2.2 million applicants have been approved, with an average loan size of $79,000. In the first round of funding, large, publicly traded companies received a large amount of the funding meant for small businesses. According to a recent report, publicly traded companies have since given back more than $375 billion of those federal stimulus loans.
  • Air Canada announced a new program, Air Canada CleanCare+, which consists of mandatory preflight infrared temperature checks, blocking the sale of adjacent seats, capping the total number of passengers allowed on each flight, requiring employees and passengers to wear face coverings, and removing pillows and blankets from the planes. The airline company will also begin using hospital grade disinfectant in their sprayers and will give kits with hand sanitizer to passengers.
  • The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reported that, for the first month ever, renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, and wind, supplied more power to the electric grid than coal-fired plants.
  • Carnival Corporation said today that it plans on allowing eight of its ships to start cruising again before the end of the summer. Carnival has canceled service on many of its lines through September, but will look to offer cruises from three total ports in Texas and Florida as early as August 1st.
  • The United States Department of Labor announced that an additional 3.8 million new unemployment insurance claims were filed last week. In total, Americans have filed more than 30 million new unemployment claims over the past 6 weeks.
  • Yesterday, Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of remdesivir, released some results from a Phase III clinical trial comparing 5-day and 10-day treatment courses of the drug. The results did not provide any information whether the drug improved patient outcomes compared to a control group. Gilead also noted that the results “complement” forthcoming results from a placebo-controlled trial conducted by NIAID (mentioned in yesterday’s update).
    • The interim results from the NIAID study—a randomized control trial involving more than 1,000 patients—find that patients treated with remdesivir had a shorter time to recovery than those who received a placebo (median of 11 days compared to 15 days; 28 percent improvement). Dr. Tony Fauci described the reduction in time to recovery as “highly significant.”
  • Trade groups including the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service and the National Retail Federation wrote to a letter to lawmakers today urging them to provide relief funds to the United States Postal Services.
  • Meat processing workers, many of them low-income immigrants and minorities, are being recalled to plants where thousands have been sickened.
  • On Friday, labor organizers from Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Walmart, Target, Shipt (owned by Target), and FedEx say they will walk off the job to strike for better pay, expansion of paid sick leave, access to personal protective equipment, and enforcement of social distancing in the workplace.
  • As online shopping has increased, demand for Amazon delivery folks has skyrocketed. Amazon hired 175,000 more workers over the last two months to keep up with orders.
  • Food delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats have said they would suspend some or all of the commissions they take on orders to help restaurants continue to offer takeout. Restaurants have said other fees still apply.
  • Apple is pushing back the production ramp-up of its flagship iPhones coming later this year by about a month. Apple’s annual product refresh fuels the majority of iPhone sales for an entire year, making new phones the linchpin of a business segment that accounts for more than half of the company’s total revenue.
  • The IRS is ready to release the second big wave of stimulus payments and will send money over the next few days to people who recently provided their direct-deposit information. These payments will likely go to two groups: One set is tax filers who successfully used the IRS  website’s “Get My Payment” tool to add bank information by midday on April 22nd, according to the IRS. The other set is people who don’t file tax returns but who receive Social Security or Social Security disability benefits, according to the Treasury Department.
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is using a robot dog to help clinicians screen patients. The robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, allows physicians to communicate with and deliver supplies to patients without potential exposure to COVID-19; the robot also limits the use of PPE.
  • According to doctors, older adults with COVID-19 have several “atypical” symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment. COVID-19 is typically signaled by three symptoms: a fever, a bad cough, and shortness of breath. But older adults — the age group most at risk of severe complications or death from the illness ― may show none of these characteristics. Instead, seniors may seem “off” — not acting like themselves ― early on after being infected. They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings. They may become dizzy and fall. Sometimes, seniors stop speaking or simply collapse.
  • Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor released new information indicating that more than 4.4 million individuals filed initial claims for unemployment. While this number is a decrease from the previous week, it brings the national total to approximately 26 million new claims.
  • Individuals are postponing medical care and procedures, with emergency departments across the country reporting significant decreases in normal patient load. Some clinicians expressed concern that patients may be dying of these conditions at home rather than risking exposure to COVID-19 at the hospital.
  • A report by NPR found racial disparities in New York nursing home deaths. Among the 78 homes the report looked at, seven of the 11 nursing homes with the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths reported 46 percent or greater of “non-white” residents.
  • A data breach in the Small Business Association‘s (SBA) online application portal may have compromised personal information for nearly 8,000 businesses seeking emergency loans last month, the agency said today. SBA said it discovered on March 25th that the application system for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) may have disclosed personal information to other applicants of the program — including Social Security numbers, income amounts, names, addresses and contact information.
  • The historic bust in the oil market worsened today as traders were afraid crude oil output was still way too high without enough storage space.
  • A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against doctors using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities. The NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines states in the Therapeutic Options Under Investigation section that, “There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.”
  • Analyses have shown that four of the 10 largest sources of new infections in the U.S. are prisons or jails. Additionally, nearly one in 10 nursing homes in the U.S. have publicly reported cases of COVID-19.
  • NIH’s Dr. Tony Fauci has suggested that a vaccine for COVID-19 could be about 18 months away, and some scientists think even that estimate is optimistic. In the meantime, experts are encouraging countries to ramp up infrastructure to deliver and distribute the vaccine when it becomes available.
  • New data shows accommodation and food service firms received less than 9 percent of the money from the SBA’s PPP program, about $30.5 billion, though they have suffered the largest job losses of any industry during this recession. Construction firms received the largest share, at just over 13 percent, or about $45 billion.
  • The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congress asking them to create a recovery fund for the restaurant industry. In the letter, the trade association cited that 8 million restaurant employees had been laid off or furloughed because of COVID-19, and that the industry had lost $30 billion since March, with another $50 billion expected to disappear by the end of this month.
  • 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.
  • At least 7,000 people in the U.S. living in or connected to nursing homes have died of the virus.
  • New car registrations in the E.U. fell 55 percent last month compared with a year earlier. Owners registered 570,000 new cars during the month, down from 1.3 million in March of 2019.
  • Doctors around the country continue to give patients hydroxychloroquine at various stages of COVID-19, and as a preventive measure to some if they’ve been exposed by family members or in health care settings, despite the drug still not showing clear results.
  • 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.
  • Although the standard has been to keep six feet of space between individuals to stop the spread of COVID-19 germs, researchers from M.I.T. found that a sneeze could send particles as far as 26 feet. This 3D simulator from the New York Times gives an incredible breakdown of how particles travel between humans.
  • Amazon said that it might temporarily halt its operations in France after a court ruled that it had failed to adequately protect workers from the virus and that it must restrict deliveries to food, hygiene, and medical products until it addressed the issue. Amazon contested the findings of the ruling.
  • Registration is now open for the next APHA webinar: Crisis Standards of Care During COVID-19, Wednesday the 15th at 5pm. Register here.
  • Industry data indicates that about two million homeowners are skipping their monthly mortgage payments. This figure is expected to increase as more Americans lose their jobs from COVID-19 lock downs. Approximately 3.74 percent of home loans are in forbearance as of April 5th, up from about 2.73 percent the prior week.
  • The S&P 500 opened the week by falling 1 percent. The Dow fell nearly 1.5 percent. Investors are anticipating the forthcoming reports of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of American, and Goldman Sachs.
  • Apple and Google said they are teaming up to build software into smartphones that can tell people if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. People would opt in to use the tool and voluntarily report if they became infected. The app would then alert phones that had recently come into proximity with that person’s device.
  • A new report on 53 COVID-19 patients given the antiviral drug remdesivir sheds little light on whether the drug works. The drug has been considered a promising candidate to treat coronavirus patients. It was developed for Ebola, but did not work well against that disease. Studies in mice and monkeys have suggested that it could fight COVID-19, and laboratory tests showed that it could stop the virus from invading cells. In the new report, because there was no control group of patients with matching symptoms who did not receive the drug, it is impossible to tell whether the remdesivir helped those who were treated.
  • Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the L.A. Times, has purchased St. Vincent Medical Center and will reopen it as a COVID-19 treatment center.
  • The stock market is up yet again, posting the biggest week of gains since 1974. The S&P 500 added about 1.4 percent and the Dow increased by about 1.2 percent. One reason analysts have said stocks have proved to be more resilient than expected: central bankers have stepped in to provide unprecedented levels of support for the economy.
    • Many of the major stock markets in the world will be closed tomorrow for public holidays.
  • An additional 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. The three-week total is now greater than 16 million which is more than we saw in the last recession over the course of two years.
  • COVID-19 is starting to creep into meat processing plants, where workers are confined to close quarters and are unable to take time off from work. Some plants have offered financial incentives to keep workers on the job, but the virus’s swift spread is causing illness and forcing plants to close, like Smithfield Foods’ pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who announced today that it would close temporarily after more than 80 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
  • According to the New York Times, Chicago’s Cook County Jail is now the largest-known source of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. At least 353 cases (238 inmates and 115 staff) can be linked to the jail — more than have been connected to the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, or the cluster centered in New Rochelle, New York.
  • The WHO, Lady Gaga, and Global Citizen have announced a concert that will air on Saturday, April 18th titled “One World: Together at home.” This globally televised and streamed special will highlight unity among all people affected by COVID-19, celebrate the brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work, and raise funds for the response. More information is available here.
  • Seven Yale University affiliates published an article in Social Science Research Network (SSRN) making the case for the universal adoption of cloth masks and policies to increase the supply of medical masks for health workers.
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals said today that it will begin a small safety test of a potential coronavirus vaccine in adults in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri. Its product is the second vaccine candidate to begin early human trials in the U.S.
  • As some countries seem to be hitting their peak infection rates, investors are taking it as a sign that it’s a good time to buy. The S&P 500, which had an unsteady week last week, jumped up about 7 percent today.
  • Educators say that a subset of students and their parents have dropped out of touch with schools completely — unavailable by phone, email or any other form of communication, as families struggle with the broader economic and health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Zoom, the videoconferencing service that has seemingly taken over the world in this time of self-isolation, has experienced major privacy breaches (including the hijacking of webcams and microphones) over the last few weeks. This weekend, Zoom’s CEO apologized for falling short on security and promised to address concerns. Zoom will pause the development of any new features to concentrate on safety and privacy issues.
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19 in what scientists believe is a case of human-to-cat transmission. Several other big cats at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • United Airlines is partnering with New York City to provide free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. The airline is working closely with the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and a network of medical volunteer organizations, including The Society of Critical Care Medicine, to coordinate travel for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the country to help treat patients. 
  • Duke researchers are responding to the dire shortage of PPE by decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat COVID-19 patients. The scientists published their decontamination protocol here.
  • More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment over the last week, more than twice the number from the previous week (which was four times higher than the previous record).
  • Banks are warning that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $350 billion lending program for struggling small businesses authorized by the CARES Act, will not be ready for its planned launch Friday. Lenders responsible for providing forgivable loans to small businesses under the PPP say they have not been provided necessary guidelines and caution that there may be delays in assistance to small businesses. A Treasury Department fact-sheet on PPP can be found here.
  • A clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine, the drug used to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, will begin this week to see if it is also effective in treating COVID-19. The trial is set to begin later this month and will have around 15,000 participants.
  • Futures on Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, went down another 6.1 percent, which was ushered along by Saudi Arabia and Russia’s oil price war.
  • The severe shortage of tests and testing kits continues to be problem for health care providers; however, waiting for test results is also an issue. Quest Diagnostics in New Jersey recently had a backlog of as many as 160,000 COVID-19 tests (about half their total orders).
  • Abbott Laboratories shares surged in U.S. trading after the company unveiled a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as quickly as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting. The stock gained as much as 13 percent in New York, the biggest intraday gain since 2002. The shares were up 9.9 percent to $81.94 this morning in New York.
  • After HHS announced partnerships with Johnson & Johnson and Moderna as they develop COVID-19 vaccines, NPR published this piece outlining how BARDA will support the companies in their work.
  • Oil prices continue to plunge around the world. In the U.S., the West Texas Intermediate was down more than 5 percent at $20.25/barrel.  While some of this is due to the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, analysts say that it is mostly caused by the pandemic.  
  • The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released a road map for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It outlines specific directions for adapting the public-health strategy and suggests milestones for identifying when the country should reopen.
  • Several sports companies have pledged to use their manufacturing capabilities to produce medical equipment for hospitals nationwide.
  • Health insurance companies Cigna and Humana have agreed to protect their customers from out-of-pocket costs if they require treatment for COVID-19. Last week, Aetna insurance said it would also waive cost-sharing related to hospital stays.

Other Resources

Common Acronyms

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Central Command (CENTCOM), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

Gov. Kemp Calls on Georgia Businesses to Aid with Critical Health Care Needs

  • Governor Kemp calls on all Georgia businesses who are able to help the state provide, produce, distribute, or store critical health care items needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Click here to read the press release and to complete the information form, visit: www.georgia.org/covid19response.


Georgia-Specific Resources

COVID-19 Updates and Information Georgia Department of Economic Development

Economic Assistance for Atlanta Businesses Affected by COVID-19 Invest Atlanta

State-administered revolving loan program

State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) - Department of Community Affairs

  1. Georgia Loan Participation Program. The State purchases a participation of up to 25% of an approved loan, for loans ranging from $100,000 to $5,000,000. (Maximum participation amount depending on program liquidity; current maximum participation is $250,000.)  
  2. Georgia SBCG (Small Business Credit Guaranty) is a 50% loan guaranty program with a current maximum loan amount of $400,000 with a $200,000 guaranty.

Roadmap to Recovery

A set of recommendations intended to guide governors and state agencies on reopening and operating their states in this new environment. Developed by NGA and the Association of State & Territorial Health Officers (ASHTO). 

Moody COVID State Budget Stress Test

A report from Moody’s concerning the precariousness of state budgets as a result of COVID-19.

Gilead Sciences statements on trials of remdesivir (COVID-19)

Mental Health

Helpful Articles/Media

Johns Hopkins University Real-Time Coronavirus Tracker

“Flattening the Curve” is how we describe the need to take precautions to minimize the number of people infected by COVID-19. Above, you can see where the health care system’s capacity is, as well as how it stacks up against the number of cases with and without implementing protective measures.

RSS 2019 Novel Coronavirus