DES MOINES, Iowa – On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds launched the Test Iowa Initiative in an effort to expand COVID-19 testing across the state.
“As Iowa and the nation prepare to reopen the ability to conduct large scale assessments and testing is critical to understand how prevalent the disease is and how it’s evolving,” Reynolds said during a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa.
“The amount of data available will help us start to control the virus while making evidence-based decisions about how how to ease the restrictions that have impacted our daily lives and begin to open up our businesses in a safe and responsible manner,” she added.
The partnership makes 540,000 test kids available and increases the state’s testing capacity by 3,000 additional tests daily.
Iowa is the second state to launch this testing initiative first deployed in Utah. Iowans are encouraged to take the assessment at TestIowa.com; those who meet the criteria can then go to a drive-thru testing location where they are swabbed. The samples are sent to a lab, and results are returned electronically in 48-72 hours.
Reynolds said that the assessment not only will determine a person’s eligibility for testing but will help the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) identify hotspots across the state.
If someone tests positive, IDPH will do contact tracing to determine who that person had contact with to identify potential exposures and take steps to slow the spread.
Currently, those who have symptoms of COVID-19, had contact with someone with COVID-19, or traveled to a location where the coronavirus is widespread can be tested.
Reynolds said that the health information gathered on the website is safe and that Iowans’ privacy is protected.
“The assessment It was created in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health and is conducted using the highest levels of security and privacy protection available. Your information will be used only for the purpose of combating the virus until the pandemic subsides,” she said.
The initial testing location will be at a long-term care facility in Tama. Still, the first public drive-thru testing location will be on Saturday at the north parking lot of the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The state plans to schedule additional sites throughout the state as early as next week.
While they are limiting who can be tested first, Gov. Kim Reynolds encourages all Iowans to complete the assessment. That will help determine where to set up testing first. She launched the Test Iowa Challenge for Iowans to take the assessment and then challenge five of their friends to do the same.
Those who complete the assessment and are eligible to take the test will receive a follow-up email to schedule the test. The does not cost anything to take, Reynolds said the state would leverage part of the federal COVID-19 money sent to the state to pay for the initiative.