On Monday, Governor Bill Lee extended his Safer at Home order through the end of April and announced initial plans for reopening Tennessee’s economy.

On Wednesday, the Governor announced free testing will become available for any Tennessean, regardless of whether they show traditional symptoms. As TN Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said: “Until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, quickly detecting this illness, isolating if ill and practicing social distancing are the most powerful tools we have to stop the spread and help our state return to work.”

Below, we’ve highlighted what our members are doing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 page for additional resources or supply needs.

UTHSC Prioritizes Education, Training
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is leading training and public education around coronavirus. Last week, more than 1,500 joined an online symposium to hear about the university’s efforts to study and contain the virus.

Dr. Jon McCullers, the senior executive associate dean of the College of Medicine, presented a “Memphis Roadmap” for dealing with the coronavirus that calls for improved data collection; a massive expansion of public health services; increased testing; and a coordinated response, not just within the county, but across state and county lines.

Dr. Colleen Jonsson of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) provided an update on her team’s efforts to discover therapeutics to treat the virus, both from existing FDA approved drugs and from new compounds. The researchers are also exploring how to disinfect N95 masks for reuse.

Separately, UTHSC’s College of Medicine produced a training video detailing the proper protocol for collecting nasopharyngeal samples to test for coronavirus infection. The video is intended for distribution to hospitals, clinical care providers and testing sites as a guide to ensure proper procedure is followed.

Boehringer Ingelheim Donates to American Thoracic Society
Boehringer Ingelheim became the first pharmaceutical company to donate to the American Thoracic Society (ATS) COVID-19 Crisis Fund. They are donating $500,000 as part of their commitment to fighting the virus. “Supporting the needs of the pulmonology and critical care communities is what Boehringer Ingelheim has stood for throughout our company’s history and we are proud to stand with the ATS to make a critical difference to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Thomas Seck, M.D., SVP of Medicine & Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The COVID-19 Crisis Fund will focus on several areas:  
  • Development and dissemination of educational resources based on the very latest information regarding prevention and treatment of COVID‐19 and other pulmonary and critical care conditions;
  • Support rapid information collection and dissemination in times of crisis;
  • Develop rapid response capabilities that provide expert recommendations and suggestions to address areas lacking in empirical evidence;
  • Provide resources to clinicians in need of expanding their skill set during this emergency. 

Sanofi Supports Vaccine Development, Researches Treatments
Sanofi is leveraging its expertise in a number of ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding a vaccine, Sanofi is looking to its previous development of a SARS vaccine as a potential solution; collaborating with Translate Bio, a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics company, to develop a novel mRNA vaccine; and partnering with GlaxoSmithKline on an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19 by contributing Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen.

Through a longstanding partnership with BARDA, Sanofi will also establish state of the art facilities in the U.S. for the sustainable production of an adjuvanted recombinant vaccine.

Additionally, Sanofi recently announced the initiation of their global clinical trial program evaluating Kevzara® (sarilumab) in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19.

Other important updates and resources:

  • HHS released new guidance for investigators, institutional review boards and institutions conducting human subjects research.
  • The FDA provided updates on several COVID-19 related issues and developments.
  • New research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center shows that social distancing may be working but urges these practices must continue.
  • Refer to Baker Donelson’s COVID-19 Resource page to keep track of issues and legislation surrounding the pandemic and its impact on businesses across industry sectors.
  • Medtronic wins FDA approval for a lower cost ventilator.