Test Iowa validation should lead to increased testing

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

JOHNSTON – The Iowa State Hygienic Lab has validated more than 100 Test Iowa covid-19 positive tests and the state is now prepared to ramp up additional testing across the state.

During Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds daily press conference, the governor said with the validation the state can now being increasing testing with the hopes of reaching 5,000 per day.

Reynolds said research around the coronavirus and COVID-19 illness shows that increased testing is key to helping isolate and minimize the spread of the virus.

“Despite the gradual increase in testing supplies over time from the CDC and national labs, it was clear that unless we did more we wouldn’t have the number of tests we wanted to confidently move to the next phase of recovery. Reynolds said.

“I’m pleased to announce that the state hygienic lab completed the Test Iowa validation process yesterday achieving high ratings of 95% accuracy on determining positives and a 99.7% accuracy for determining negatives.

But the validation process did slow down results from the lab with some results not being available for several days. The process also kept state health officials from moving quicker on the increase in testing.

Reynolds said 4,300 Iowans had been tested for COVID-19 in the past three weeks, but the $26 million Test Iowa program was being touted as being able to test up to 5,000 per day when coupled with State Hygienic Lab testing.

“For those Iowans who’ve reached to tell us we’ve fallen short of meeting their expectations – we hear you.

“We have the capacity to do at least 3,000 with Test Iowa, and the state lab has continued to improve their process and I believe they think they can do 2,000 through their lab so a total of 5,000 on a daily basis,” Reynolds said.

A dedicated Test Iowa call center is also being planned for the next few days where staff will be able to help answer questions and resolve issues in a timely manner.

To also speed up testing, Reynolds said eight Test Iowa sites are not up and running and the parameters for qualifying for a test on the assessment site are also being relaxed to allow more people to qualify and schedule a test through the site at www.testiowa.com

The closest Test Iowa site is at Beach Ottumwa, 101 Church Street, in Ottumwa. A site was also opened at North Park Mall in Davenport.

She said the state lab is still keeping a narrow parameter for testing so that additional supplies can be saved in the event of a resurgence in the virus.

Reynolds also said the Iowa Capitol building will be reopened on Monday with legislators not expected back for sessions until June 3.

She said the state has to keep moving forward while trying to contain and slow the spread of the disease.

“It’s here to stay, until we find a vaccine.”

As of Wednesday evening, Des Moines County had three more positive cases for a total of 46, Henry County has 43, Lee County has 18 and Jefferson and Van Buren counties have a combined 17 positive cases. Off all of those cases, 79 are listed on the coronavirus.iowa.gov website as being recovered.

Through Wednesday that state has suffered 318 deaths. Reynolds said 57% of those deaths are associated with long-term care facilities. In total 13,675 Iowans have tested positive for the illness, while 6,231 are listed as recovered.

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