DES MOINES, Iowa – State Auditor Rob Sand’s office released a report alleging that the Test Iowa reporting process is illegal and causes “needless risk.” The Reynolds administration disagrees and says the Attorney General’s office states the process is legal.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Test Iowa, a private-public partnership, on April 21, 2020, to expand the state’s testing capability for COVID-19. The initiative gave the State Hygenic Lab the ability to process 3,000 tests on top of the additional 2,000 tests the lab can handle.
Sand said he initiated a report after state and county level employees reached out to his office to discuss concerns with reporting delays related to Test Iowa.
He reported that the State Hygenic Lab analyzes every potential COVID-19 specimen collected through Test Iowa. Sand also noted they send Test Iowa results exclusively to a private entity that is a part of the Test Iowa program. He states the Iowa Code requires that the State Hygenic Lab directly reports those results to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).
“Rather than being reported immediately to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health is, in fact, the fourth entity to receive those results,” Sand said during a press conference on Tuesday morning.
He states that the reporting chain for Test Iowa is contrary to law, takes unnecessary risks, and increases taxpayer risk of legal liabilities.
“Every step along that chain is another place where something can happen that negatively affects Iowa’s pandemic response. It doesn’t have to be intentional. It could be accidental. It could be a hacking attempt on a private company; it could be an electrical outage, any number of things because of that long reporting chain can complicate or potentially end the ability of those results to actually get to the Department of Public Health and get to public health officials,” Sand said.
His office recommends the State Hygenic Lab immediately sends results directly to IDPH.
IDPH states that the process is legal.
“Test Iowa has been a huge success for Iowans throughout the state, providing widespread access to testing and supporting the state’s contact tracing efforts. As the AG office has verified, every part of the Test Iowa reporting process is in accordance with Iowa Code,” Amy McCoy, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health said in response to State Auditor’s report.
Reynolds addressed Sand’s report during her press conference in Webster City on Tuesday.
“We’ve been very transparent about the testing. Actually, we’ve led the country in what we’ve done with testing and our processing and our manufacturing plants. Not only with PCR and diagnostic testing, but we even went above and beyond that with serology testing,” she said.
She also stated that the Attorney General’s office found the process was legal.
“The Attorney General’s office has a primary duty to try to defend the actions of state agencies like IDPH, regardless of their legality. Our analysis is not guided by a client’s acts but by the definition of immediate from the Iowa Supreme Court,” Sand countered in a released statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Listen to Sand’s statement to the press below:
Read the State Auditor’s office report:
Read the Iowa Department of Public Health’s response transmitted through the Attorney General’s office: