Governor Kim Reynolds is revealing details of a “Test Iowa” initiative with the private sector to increase the number of Iowans who are screened for COVID-19.
“It will help us gather critical information from Iowans that will help our health officials better target and fight the virus,” Reynolds says. The governor says Iowans can go online — to www.testiowa.com, answer questions about their symptoms, where they work and if they’ve been around someone who has COVID-19 or traveled to virus “hot spots.”
“This type of information helps assess your eligibility for testing,” Reynolds says, “and it will also help us identify potential hot spots across the state.”
Eligible test-takers will get a unique-to-them barcode, along with a time and place for a drive-through testing location. The State of Iowa has signed a contract with NOMI Health and subsidiaries that promise to ensure 3,000 Iowans can be tested DAILY for COVID-19. The group launched a similar effort in Utah a couple of weeks ago. Officials say the health and employment data Iowans provide will be owned by the state and Reynolds says security steps are being taken to protect privacy.
“By taking the assessment and sharing the information, you can help us zero in on potential outbreaks and new clusters, so that we can target our response and protect the health of others,” Reynolds says. “Your information can also help us identify areas where minimal virus activity is occurring so that we can begin to safely reopen our state as soon as possible.”
Governor Reynolds says the state is using federal economic stimulus money to pay the companies and she says Nebraska will be signing a similar contract soon. The first drive-up Test Iowa site will be in Tama, on Wednesday. A second drive-up Test Iowa site will open Saturday in the Iowa Events Center parking lot in downtown Des Moines.
“More testing sites are planned for other areas of the state and could open as soon as next week,” Reynolds says. Dave Elkington sits on the board of Utah-based nonprofit that’s involved in the project. He says the ultimate goal is to test everyone.
“And really get all of us back to our normal life,” Elkington says. Initial screening through Test Iowa, though, is limited to those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, have been around someone with the virus or have recently returned from a virus “hot spot” like New York City or New Orleans.
The state’s contact indicates each test will cost $48.14. State officials plan to use federal stimulus money to cover the costs.