Iowa got help in their efforts to increase the state’s daily coronavirus testing capacity from an unlikely source: Ashton Kutcher.
Earlier this week, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Test Iowa, a public/private partnership that will allow Iowa to increase testing for the coronavirus by thousands a day. It’s facilitated by a group of companies, many based in Utah, that Reynolds first heard about from Kutcher, an Iowa native.
She said she was talking with him about doing a PSA for the state and he mentioned Test Utah and how it expanded testing in that state and looked promising for others.
“He knew one of the individuals that had been working on that,” Reynolds said. “So he said ‘if you’d like I’d be happy to connect the two of you.’”
The specific company Kutcher appears to be connected to is Qualtrics, a software management company that’s co-headquartered in Utah. He’s been seen with the CEO, Ryan Smith, at a Utah Jazz basketball game. Kutcher tweeted early in April about Qualtrics and the Test Utah project, and in a tweet in March he noted that he’s not personally invested in Qualtrics.
seems to me we should roll this out state by state https://t.co/aJakqRqsYl
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) April 4, 2020
“We connected,” Reynolds said. “My team with Utah and the Utah chief of staff as well as the governor of Utah and we were able to start that conversation and ramp it up relatively quickly.”
Iowa is paying $26 million for the program, set up through a no-bid contract.
That partnership is for diagnostic tests, finding out whether people have the coronavirus or not. Reynolds said the state is working with Iowa State University and the University of Iowa on serology testing, finding out whether people have immunity.
As Iowa Public Radio reported, Test Utah has expanded that state’s ability to test for COVID-19, but at a lower number than originally promised. On April 2, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said their Test Utah initiative would allow for 4,000 more tests a day to get done, growing to 7,000 tests per day after the initial weeks. However, Test Utah has conducted just 11,232 tests as of Tuesday, and the state’s daily testing has never risen to 4,000 in one day.
by Nikoel Hytrek
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