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DES MOINES – Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) wrote to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds May 19 to express their concerns over the capability and expansion plans of the Test Iowa COVID-19 testing program.
As the Test Iowa initiative nears the end of its first month, the Iowa lawmakers pushed for new information on the current daily capacity of testing, what tests are being prioritized for processing at state labs, how much contact tracing is currently under way, and which areas of Iowa would be chosen next for Test Iowa sites.
“We are concerned that Test Iowa still has not yielded 3,000 tests per day several weeks after its launch nor are there Test Iowa locations in ‘hotspot’ areas,” the members wrote. “As our economy has begun to reopen, we know that Iowans will feel safer if they can access a test quickly and within in their communities. We need to ensure that essential workers, nursing homes, and those who believe they have been exposed can get tests right away.”
The letter also cites the need for regions experiencing new outbreaks, like the Council Bluffs metropolitan area, to get a dedicated test site to avoid hours of travel to an alternate testing site or unnecessary state border crossings.
“Pottawattamie County has experienced a 418% increase with 33 cases on April 30 to 171 cases on May 18…[y]et, there is no testing site to serve this large metropolitan area where cases are rising,” the lawmakers wrote. “Without access, these health care workers, first responders, essential workers, and individuals are traveling into other states or spending hours traveling to the closest location in Iowa where they can receive a test.”
In the letter, the lawmakers request a reply from the Governor within 48 hours.
The Test Iowa program is funded in part by federal block grant dollars allocated by the CARES Act, which passed the House unanimously in March.