State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati announces updates on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, IA on March 25, 2020. (Photo Credit: Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Over 12,000 Iowans received a serology test to determine if they have COVID-19 antibodies. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) began serology testing in April and tested 12,404 Iowans to date. Out of those tested, 1,683 (14 percent) were positive for antibodies. (Note: This was not a randomized sample, criteria listed below.)

Antibodies are a blood protein produced by white blood cells that help the body’s immune system fight off an infection it had once before. 

The State Hygenic Lab has made the antibody test it uses, a serology test from Abbott that detects IgG antibodies, available to medical providers to test as needed. They are guiding providers to initially test those who were suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 seven days after the onset of symptoms. They also recommend the test for those considering donating plasma that could be used to treat those currently infected with COVID-19.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state epidemiologist and medical director with IDPH, also says that testing healthcare workers, first responders, and essential infrastructure workers is crucial for the state to understand their potential exposure better.

She said these tests fall under the mandatory reporting order, so tests processed outside of the State Hygenic Lab are to report results to IDPH.

“And we ask that these tests be reported to us because we do follow up with these individuals. We’re trying to learn a little bit more about their potential exposures a little bit more about what they do. And perhaps help us learn more if these people were then to become sick again,” Pedati said during Gov. Kim Reynolds’ daily press conference on Tuesday.

“There are many things we have to learn about this virus as we move forward. And this is another example of a place where we have more to learn. We don’t yet know how well these antibodies work, and we don’t know how long they last. But it’s going to be really important for us to better understand the kind of immunity that people aren’t developing. And also to help us understand where in our communities this virus might have been, and where it might be moving,” she added.

To date, serology tests were conducted among Iowans in 48 different counties.

Reynolds, during the press conference, pointed out there is an upward trend in testing and a downward trend statewide for positive cases of COVID-19. The current positivity rate over time is 14.3 percent while Monday’s percentage of tests showed only 7.1 percent were positive.

The state now provides real-time numbers for positive case counts, testing, recoveries, and deaths, as well as, a 14-day trend line (as seen below).

As of 5:15 pm (CDT) on May 19, 2020.

Currently, 15,349 (one in 206) Iowans tested positive for COVID-19 that includes 232 positive cases on Monday and 101 positive cases reported on Tuesday thus far. Also, 107,647 Iowans were tested to date for a per capita rate of one in 29 Iowans tested. Additionally, 8,130 Iowans have recovered from COVID-19 for a recovery rate of 53 percent among those tested positive.

There have been 372 deaths from COVID-19 to date, with five additional deaths reported on Monday and one death thus far on Tuesday. Iowans 61-years of age or older make up 88 percent of the deaths, and 55 percent of the deaths are among long-term care facility residents. 

As of the end of the day on Monday, 383 Iowans were hospitalized, 126 are in ICU, and 83 patients are on ventilators. There were 28 new admissions yesterday, down from 47 on Sunday. 

There are 3,660 inpatient beds, 464 ICU beds, and 734 ventilators available statewide. 

Watch the entire press conference:

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