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Davis Brown Government Relations Report

State and Federal COVID-19 Response Update - April 17, 2020

Federal Update

With the Senate failing to reach agreement on additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), they have adjourned for the week planning to continue negotiations throughout the weekend. Majority Leader McConnell announced that the Senate will meet in pro forma sessions roughly every three days until May 4, when the Senate is scheduled to reconvene in full session. Pro forma sessions are constitutionally required to happen every three days unless both parties, in both chambers, can agree to pass an adjournment resolution. The Senate will now meet on 4/20, 4/23, 4/27 and 4/30 and could take up PPP funding legislation during any of those sessions.

Parallel to PPP negotiations, the Senate and House will continue to discuss plans for a Phase 4 funding bill which is anticipated to be debated and passed in mid to late May but, as always, this timeline could shift. Phase 4 is expected to focus on infrastructure investments and recovery and is expected to start in the House.

White House Announces Guidelines for Opening Up America

This week, President Trump unveiled new Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. This three-phased approach will guide state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work while continuing to protect American lives.

The guidelines detail criteria for reopening as well as specifics for individuals and employers for each phase. States must first meet the criteria before proceeding to any phase of reopening:

    1. Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period, and
    2. Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period
  2. CASES
    1. Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period, or
    2. Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)
    1. Treat all patients without crisis care, and
    2. Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing

State and local officials have been encouraged to tailor the application of the criteria to local circumstances (e.g. a metropolitan area that has suffered a severe COVID-19 outbreak vs. rural and suburban areas where outbreaks are controlled or mild). The White House also encourages Governors to work on a regional basis to satisfy the criteria and then progress through the phases of reopening.

State of Iowa Update

Iowa Schools Will Remain Closed

Iowa schools (academics/sports) will remain closed for the remainder of the academic calendar year in an effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19. School districts will continue to offer distance learning opportunities for the remainder of the year. The April 10 Emergency Disaster Proclamation provided provisions to temporarily suspend statewide graduation requirements, including laws requiring curriculum standards, credit hours, and CPR certifications for graduating seniors. Details of the provisions impacting graduation requirements.

Executive Update

Late Friday, April 10, Governor Reynolds issued an eighth State of Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration that was effective immediately. The declaration primarily provided regulatory relief for health facilities, but also provided guidance for school districts regarding high school graduation requirements. We are providing a summary of the Governor’s proclamation. Her actions are authorized by Iowa Code Chapter 29C, Emergency Management and Security.

Additional Protective Measures Applied in Northeast Iowa

On Thursday, April 16, RMCC Region 6 was assessed at a level 10 by the Department of Public Health (see DPH map below). The RMCC Region 6 includes Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties. 

In her press conference on Thursday, Governor Reynolds announced additional mitigation steps for this region to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. All gatherings in Region 6 must cease. Individuals in Region 6 may only gather with other family members that are in their household, with limited exceptions (e.g. weddings, funerals). A State of Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration implements additional measures to protect residents, workers, and the public in RMCC Region 6. Here is a summary of the Governor’s RMCC Region 6 proclamation. Her actions are authorized by Iowa Code Chapter 29C, Emergency Management and Security.

Every person in this region to take every precaution possible to social distance.

COVID-19 Dashboard

On Tuesday, the State of Iowa released an updated dashboard that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state will also be providing demographic information and information on Iowa’s epidemiological curve.

The new dashboard can be found at

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