On Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene on Monday, August 10, for a special session to address COVID-19 liability protections, telehealth services, and laws governing the Capitol grounds. This comes as the virus is spreading more rapidly in rural counties in Tennessee. According to a report from the Vanderbilt Department of Health Policy: “If smaller metro areas have fewer resources for contact tracing, or if individuals and policymakers in those communities are less likely to adopt mitigation strategies, there is the potential for the disease to spread further … There is also the potential that as numbers increase in those areas, depleted health care resources may result in transfers of patients back to facilities in metro areas.”

In vaccine development news, Johnson & Johnson announced they began human trials of their vaccine candidate, testing both one- and two-dose regimens. Meanwhile, Novavax, released encouraging results in two preliminary studies. 

Lastly, one-year-old startup Decode Health has developed a predictive artificial intelligence platform that identifies emerging trends in the COVID-19 outbreak, providing governments and other organizations early insights to where resources need to be allocated to provide targeted outreach among high-risk populations. 

Here’s a rundown of other developments and stories related to the coronavirus:
  • Clinical trials to evaluate drugs and vaccines historically underrepresent minorities, and researchers are concerned enrollment now under way to test COVID-19 vaccines will be no different.
  • Last week the FDA issued new guidance for non-laboratory SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests and pooled testing.
  • Researchers are testing rare disease therapies as a potential COVID-19 treatments.