Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a press conference on the state’s COVID-19 response at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Photo Credit: Byron Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that the Test Iowa COVID-19 testing is now open to any Iowan who wants to be tested. 

She said the state hit a high for testing in one day this week; there were 4365 Iowans tested on Wednesday. Reynolds noted Test Iowa sites had tested 3,000 Iowans this week, and an additional 700 appointments were scheduled for Thursday.

Before, the Test Iowa criteria focused on those with symptoms, people exposed to COVID-19, people who traveled from a hotspot, healthcare workers, and first responders. 

Test Iowa launched one month ago, and the State Hygenic Lab completed validation of the test one week ago.

The private-public initiative will give the State Hygenic Lab the ability to process 3,000 tests on top of the additional 2,000 tests the lab can handle. To date, the state has not yet reached that capacity, but expanding the criteria should boost the number of tests completed daily.

Reynolds announced that expanding the testing criteria is important as Iowans return to work. 

“Iowa is continuing to move forward. Gradually, we are beginning to step back into life as normal. Things aren’t exactly the same as they were, but it feels familiar, and that’s a welcome change. The reality is things will need to be different for a while. COVID-19 can’t be eliminated. We can’t prevent people from getting it, but it can be managed,” she said.

Iowa’s Democratic members of Congress, U.S. Representatives Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer, and Dave Loebsack, on Tuesday, sent a letter to Reynolds asking for details about the testing expansion.

Axne said in a statement today that this step is crucial, but accused the Reynolds administration of lacking transparency. 

“Expanding Iowa’s COVID-19 testing capacity to allow anyone who wants a test to get one is a critical step to ensure our communities are protected from further outbreaks – and I am fully supportive of the Governor’s effort to provide that for our constituents,” she said.

“In light of reports of long wait times for results, lack of transparency from state public health professionals, still no explanation of a plan to expand testing sites, and other issues with the Test Iowa initiative – I hope that the Governor will soon detail exactly how she plans deliver on this promise,” Axne added.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), at the time of this writing, 116,829 Iowans have been tested for a per capita rate of one in 27 Iowans. Also, 16,170 Iowans tested positive at the time of this writing with 353 Iowans testing positive on Wednesday. Of those testing positive, 81 percent are 60-years-of-age or younger. 

IDPH also reports that 8,768 Iowans have recovered for a recovery rate of 54 percent among those testing positive. At the time of publication, 410 Iowans have died, IDPH currently reports seven deaths on Wednesday (that could change). Of those deaths, 54 percent are among residents of long-term care facilities. 

IDPH reports 376 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including 125 in ICU and 80 on ventilators. Also, 31 of those hospitalizations are new admissions. Currently, there are approximately 3,390 inpatient beds, 451 ICU beds, and 753 ventilators available statewide. 

Reynolds encouraged Iowans who want to be tested to complete the survey at TestIowa.com. To date, 478,696 assessments have been completed. The state also continues to test for COVID-19 antibodies; to date, 13,622 Iowans have received a serology test, with 13 percent of those tests are positive for antibodies. 

There are Test Iowa drive-through sites in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Denison, Davenport, Ottumwa, Storm Lake, Sioux City, and Waterloo. Additional sites will be added next week in Sioux Center, Marshalltown, and somewhere in Pottawattamie County with the exact location to be determined. Also, there will be a clinic testing location in Burlington opening up next week as well. 

Watch the entire press conference below:

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