BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
JOHNSTON – The state’s $26 million Test Iowa program should be ready by Friday to schedule a COVID-19 test for anyone who thinks they should get one.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday during her regular press conference that the state hit a high of daily tests Wednesday at 4,636 tests with 355 of those being positive, or 7.7%.
Reynolds said changes to qualification criteria on the Test Iowa website at www.testiowa.com, would be effective Friday morning as the changes are being added to the system later today.
“We are further expanding testing criteria for Test Iowa later today opening the criteria so anyone who thinks they should be tested can get it,” Reynolds said.
The increased testing capacity comes just two days after Iowa’s Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, called for status update on the Test Iowa program citing difficulties in test results as well as the state still under performing on total testing numbers.
Residents still need to go the Test Iowa site, take or retake the assessment, and then schedule a test at one of the eight sites with drive thru testing available.
The Test Iowa site shows six locations for testing with the closest two being in Ottumwa and Davenport. Ottumwa testing is done from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Beach Ottumwa, 101 Church Street. The Davenport testing site is at Northpark Mall.
“They go on and schedule their appointment so Iowans are in charge of that,” Reynolds said.
“After taking the assessment if you qualify, they send them a link, then you go on and look at available appointments, and schedule it. We’re gonna learn as we open this up to more Iowans. There’s going to be bumps along the way and we expect that.”
Ann Lebo, the state’s Dept. of Education director confirmed the reopening of school-sponsored activities on June 1 at local discretion. She said not only are the sports programs authorized to begin, but also summer learning activities for students, including academic enrichment under the guidelines provided the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Dept. of Education.
“Summer learning is a local decision based on the needs of community in consultation with local public health officials,” Lebo said.
Reynolds said closing school was the toughest decision she’s made in the past 11 weeks.
“For me, nothing signifies getting life back to normal more than getting these kids reconnected to their schools,” she said.
“Normal will look and feel different but I believe we’ll all feel ‘different’ can feel pretty good.”
Reynolds also took a swipe at reporters for wanting to only talk about data and testing, while not looking at the other side of the pandemic.
“You never wanna talk about the other side of that. The children locked in homes with abusive parents and we don’t have eyes on them like we did when they were in school,” Reynolds said.
“We don’t talk about the increase in people suffering from substance abuse. Don’t talk about the impact of Iowans who’ve lost jobs and are sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage.”
With 20 deaths reported yesterday, the highest single-day total since reporting began, Reynolds said any death is devastating and Iowa’s efforts to minimize the impact of the virus has resulted in one of the lowest death rates in the country.
She said data still shows that for the 20% of people, those with underlying health conditions and older Iowans, the virus can be devastating.
“If you fall into that category, nothing has changed,” she said.
“We’ve never said we were going to prevent people from getting COVID-19. That’s unrealistic and unattainable. What we have to do is learn to live with it and manage the virus.
“There’s a societal cost to just shutting down and not moving realistically forward through this pandemic. I’m telling ya, I have faith in Iowans and their ability to be personally responsible. And I have tremendous faith in our businesses because they are demonstrating it every day.”