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  • Tuesday, March 24, 2020 3:57 PM
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it has implemented a new regulatory pathway for some biosimilar, or interchangeable, versions of biologic drugs, including insulin.

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2020 11:09 AM
    The Des Moines City Council on Monday approved a preliminary financial package for the renovation of the 25-story Financial Center at 207 Seventh St. Plans call for 13 floors of the Financial Center to be converted to a 190-room hotel. 

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020 3:09 PM
    With the public health disaster order issued by Gov. Kim Reynolds today, the Iowa Department of Public Health is authorized to begin mobilizing “as many public health response teams as are necessary to supplement and support disrupted or overburdened local medical and public health personnel, hospitals, and resources” as allowed under state statutes. Under the guidelines of the state’s emergency operations plan, the members of those teams shall be considered state employees. 

    What will the governor’s order mean for Greater Des Moines’ health systems and the Polk County Health Department? 

    “All of our health partners continue to focus on the most urgent needs,” said Nola Aigner Davis, public information officer with the Polk County Health Department, in an email response coordinated with MercyOne Des Moines, UnityPoint Health-Des Moines, Broadlawns Medical Center and the Iowa Clinic. Davis said that more updated information will be provided after medical teams meet later this afternoon. 

    The health systems in Polk County have established a medical coordination center. Through this center, they established the 211 medical call line. This line is staffed by trained nurses who will answer medical COVID-19 questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “This center is continuously coming up with new ideas to better serve our patients who visit our hospitals and clinics,” Davis said. 

    During a livestreamed update on Monday afternoon, Broadlawns’ chief medical officer, Dr. Yogesh Shah, said the local hospitals are in “very short supply” of materials such as coronavirus test kits and respirator masks. Additionally, there are a limited number of intensive care unit beds among the Des Moines hospitals that are equipped with negative airflow to properly handle COVID-19 patients, he said. 

    Shah emphasized that people who suspect they may have the COVID-19 virus should call 211 to determine whether they need to be tested, and to not go to the hospital or a clinic unless they are directed to by the provider through 211. 

    Davis said the benefit of the governor’s public health emergency declaration is that it removes regulatory burdens that could hinder accessing more resources. 

    Currently, admissions at Broadlawns, MercyOne and UnityPoint Health hospitals in Des Moines and West Des Moines have been at normal volume, with the addition of screening for COVID-19, according to the Polk County Health Department. There is capacity at all hospitals right now, Davis said.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020 3:07 PM
    U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, spoke with the Business Record over the phone about federal resources in combating the impact of coronavirus on U.S. citizens’ health and the economy. As of this morning, a bill had passed the House, but the emergency aid and economic stimulus package was still being discussed by the Senate and the Trump administration. 

    Here’s what Axne had to say. 

    I know there's been some back and forth, but what would you feel needs to be included in an economic stimulus package for you to support it?
    The House has passed our recent coronavirus 2.0, which was the Families First Act, which does include a lot of economic stimulus, specifically for small businesses under 500 people. As you're probably aware, [it] ensures that they are able to pay two weeks of paid sick leave and then an additional 10 weeks of paid FMLA, and then get reimbursed; ... if they pay their taxes, they get a tax credit. So if they haven't paid their taxes yet, that's one major piece that we put in place. I hope that gets included in the final package. …

    I am concerned that we have large corporations that do not pay family leave -- they may provide it but it's not paid for. And so that's one of the things that I'm continuing to work on in my office to ensure that everybody across this country gets paid family leave as we continue to see schools closed down. ... Obviously, additional funding for expanded unemployment insurance is incredibly important. Right now we've got some funding for that and I'd like to see us relax some of our requirements like work search requirements, etc., when it comes to providing unemployment. 

    I just sent a letter to the [U.S. Small Business Administration] … asking that they provide businesses with more guidance on how to apply for new low-interest loans that we authorized in our first package of last week of nearly $7 billion. My concern with that is that with our small businesses … [there is] red tape that people have to get through. So I'm asking that the SBA remove any barriers to getting these loans including excessive paperwork, duplicative requirements, etc., and ensure that any verification requirements won't be an undue burden on the IRS or other local state or federal agencies who need to spend their time focused on more pressing concerns. ... So I'm asking for them to expedite approvals for assistance as much as possible. And then overall, we as an Iowa congressional delegation are going to be asking the IRS to delay the filing deadline by a month. …

    This morning there was some talk about relief for the airlines. What sort of stance would you take on that?
    We're probably going to have to look at relief packages in travel areas, that's for sure. ... I want to make sure that anything that we do to support, for instance, our airlines, that they're actually putting that effort into ensuring that they're staying afloat and that they're going to be able to provide the appropriate services that are necessary during this time. I don't know exactly what that looks like. My big concern is that we just don't provide funding without strings attached that ensure that they provide the services that are necessary for this country.

    Yesterday Sen. Mitt Romney proposed giving every adult $1,000 to boost spending in the economy. Is that something that you would support?
    The overall philosophy of a cash infusion for every American is something I absolutely support. I want to make sure we look at things holistically. The other thing we need to do is, as I mentioned, I want to make sure that those folks ... get paid family leave. The bill that we put forth with small businesses helps folks who work in those capacities. But if you work in a company over 500 people and you don't have paid family leave, you don't get that support. So $1,000 will help. But it also doesn't take care of four weeks of being without a job. If that's the case where you need to stay home with your kid, for instance, then ... it's going to be tough to cover that with $1,000.

    What kind of stipulations are you allowed to put on that? Because what if you did that and then the families just decided that they wanted to save that money or put it toward some of the expenses that are already there, not new things?
    That's absolutely one of the questions, which I don't have an answer for at this point. Obviously, we need it for economic stimulus and to keep those families out purchasing the goods that they need. But to your point, for folks who might not need that and they stock the thousand dollars away – that's not helping our country. So we would have to think about what does a package like that look like? … And I know that there's already discussions on it to determine what those parameters might look like.

    In terms of business leaders, business owners, what sort of advice are you giving to them right now, and what kinds of things do you want to see them doing?
    I had a conversation in particular with a lot of local Des Moines businesses. … Some of the things that I'm throwing out there -- landlord rent reprieve, overriding business interruption insurance. Making sure that businesses can stay afloat by looking at those types of regulations and seeing how we can adjust those to reflect the current state of this and the environment that we're in right now. I think there's a lot of things that we can be looking at in regard to how business operates and relaxing some of those regulations or tax burdens … and I'm going to be looking at every single opportunity we can.

    Is there anything else that we didn't go over that you think the business community should be thinking about?
    The one thing [business leaders] really need to think of is safety first. I understand that sometimes that means a real concern on your bottom line. But if we don’t contain this, it’s going to be worse for everybody – in particular, our businesses who will feel the greatest impact for the longest period of time.

  • Monday, March 16, 2020 11:25 AM
    Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia announced the appointment of two new division administrators. Marissa Eyanson, currently the bureau chief of Iowa Medicaid Policy, has been named division administrator for Community Services and Supports for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health. 

    Friday, March 13, 2020 4:47 PM
    Des Moines businesses, event venues, churches and organizations are being strongly urged by Mayor Frank Cownie to cancel gatherings for at least the next three to four weeks in an effort to stem the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

    Cownie’s unprecedented announcement was released shortly before President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency, a move that will allow more federal aid for states and municipalities.

    Cownie said he made the decision to encourage the cancellation of events and gatherings such as church services as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

    Friday, March 13, 2020 4:46 PM
    The 17 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus do not display signs of community spread, but Iowans should be prepared for an expected rise in confirmed cases, Gov. Kim Reynolds said late Friday afternoon during her news conference.
    • State agencies are ceasing nonessential travel for state employees and asking employees who travel to affected outbreak regions to self-isolate for 14 days. 
    • The Department of Education does not recommend closing schools at this time, but schools should have plans in place in the event that community spread is recognized by the Department of Health. 
    • Ten Iowans who were passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship will arrive home to the state Friday night, and 10 more will arrive Saturday morning. 
    • All of the 17 confirmed cases in Iowa are travel-related cases.

    Friday, March 13, 2020 2:09 PM
    The city of Des Moines is rescheduling some public meetings in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Friday, March 13, 2020 11:29 AM
    State revenue estimators took a measured view Thursday of the economy — the turmoil caused by stock volatility, an oil price war and a global coronavirus pandemic — before setting cautious projections for slow, stable economic growth in Iowa, at least in the short term.

  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 4:06 PM
    Ann Lebo has been appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds to lead the Iowa Department of Education.

  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020 3:37 PM
    The Internal Revenue Service today advised that high-deductible health plans can pay for coronavirus COVID-19-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. 

  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020 10:28 AM
    Jathan Chicoine, most recently director of the Veterans Center at Iowa State University, has been hired by Iowa Workforce Development as a program manager of Home Base Iowa. 

  • Monday, March 9, 2020 1:53 PM
    Three adults from Johnson County have been confirmed to have coronavirus after going on a cruise in Egypt, Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a news conference Sunday evening.

  • Friday, March 6, 2020 11:04 AM
    The tax package that Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling the ‘Invest in Iowa Act’ got its first Statehouse hearing Wednesday, but the chair of the Senate subcommittee started the meeting by saying the subcommittee would not take action on the bill, reported Iowa Public Radio. 

  • Thursday, March 5, 2020 11:37 AM
    A greater amount of Iowa income tax refunds has been issued so far this tax season when compared with this time last year. 

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