Legislative Update: Week of August 24, 2020

Aug 24, 2020


On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Republicans released a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill that includes a revitalization of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits, liability provisions, education funds, testing funds, and a $10 billion fund for the United States Postal Service.  On Saturday, the House passed legislation banning recent changes to the US Postal Service that could affect up to 80 million people’s ability to vote by mail during the November presidential election. The bill also provides $25 billion in additional funding for the USPS, which was to be included in the Democrat-authored Heroes Act.  It appears that congress would like to take action on all the above mentioned items but the timetable and whether they will be taken up individually or as an omnibus package is still unclear.

As many schools prepare for reopening across Massachusetts, Governor Baker announced Thursday that his administration plans to roll out a rapid response Covid-19 testing program that can be made available to any school in the state that meets certain criteria, like having two or more students in the same classroom test positive within two weeks. According to Governor Baker, “This program will be designed to quickly deliver testing resources for students and school personnel if there are multiple cases in a cohort that requires larger-scale testing than a community may have access to currently.” In addition, Massachusetts health officials on Wednesday announced that influenza immunization will now be required for all children aged 6 months or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities, part of a measure to address respiratory illness during the coronavirus pandemic.


On Sunday, President Trump announced the emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, making it easier for more patients to receive the treatment. Currently, over 70,000 coronavirus patients reportedly have been treated using convalescent plasma through an existing FDA program.

MassBio’s State of Possible Conference takes place virtually on Wednesday and Thursday, gathering industry leaders from Massachusetts and beyond to debate the most pressing challenges facing the life sciences to ensure we can continue this incredible success. Morgan Stanley is the Platinum Sponsor of the event. Other sponsors include: Alexion, Astellas, Bayer, Biogen, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Corealis Pharma, Cambridge Crossing, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, McDermott Will & Emery, Mispro Biotech Services, Nikon, PTC Therapeutics, Rapid Novor, Sanofi Genzyme, Sarepta Therapeutics, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Third Rock Ventures, Vertex.

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