DES MOINES, Iowa — As positive COVID-19 cases increase in parts of Iowa, so is the demand for getting a test.
At her press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the previous week Iowa once again surpassed its daily capacity of 3,000 tests. On Thursday, the state surpassed 100,000 total tests through Test Iowa, since the program was launched on April 25. It is run by Utah-based Nomi Health and currently has testing sites in 18 counties across Iowa.
WHO 13 surveyed Iowans on Facebook about their experiences through Test Iowa. Many noted a postive and easy experience with a relatively quick turnaround for test results. However, with the increase demand for tests, many are having issues booking an appointment in the first place.
Laura Kinnard of Des Moines said the closest available option for her was Waterloo, so she kept trying again.
“I tried to get a test Wednesday and it said there was nowhere, not anywhere in the state of Iowa,” she said.
Kinnard first started experiencing symptoms of the virus last week, after her son did not follow social distancing over the Fourth of July weekend and one of his friends tested positive. She said she experienced aches and pains, felt extremely fatigued and had a fever of 103 degrees.
“I’m older, I’m in my 50s, so that puts me at a little bit higher of a risk,” she said.
She said is self-isolating in the interim, and eventually did get an appointment scheduled for Monday late afternoon. However, Kinnard said she worries about other Iowans who also are having trouble getting a test.
“If you wait too long to get tested, it’s kind of pointless,” she said. “It just tells me our numbers cannot possibly be accurate and there are a lot of people going untested.”
Health experts have said the actual number of coronavirus cases in the United States is likely higher than what is being reported based on antibody tests.
Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association, said it’s crucial to get tested as soon as possible once symptoms start showing.
“It’s critical in understanding the spread of the disease,” Reinders said. “Immediate access, reliable access, transparency are all so imporatant in those efforts because if we have to wait too long for our tests then we aren’t able to see in real time where the spread is and inform people to take further actions to mitigate the spread.”
Reynolds on Tuesday said that her team is looking to expand testing, as more and more people are trying to get a test through Test Iowa.
“As demand for testing continues to grow, Test Iowa appointments are filling up quickly,” Reynolds said. “So even though we’ve far exceeded our capacity for the last two weeks, we’re mindful we can push our capacity limits only so far.”
The governor said the volume of tests are in good supply, but her team is looking for ways to further expanding the testing program to meet the demand.