Iowa Still Doesn’t Have Predictive COVID-19 Model

Iowa still doesn’t have a model to figure out how the coronavirus will progress through the state as Iowa leaders increasingly discuss how its economy and people can go back to work.

At her morning press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds was asked whether the state has models for how the coronavirus will play out in Iowa going forward.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state’s public health director and epidemiologist, said the Iowa Department of Public Health is still working on putting it together.

This is despite assurances earlier this month that the state would produce a model then. Based on that timeline, it should have been finished two weeks ago.

“We continue to work by looking at a variety of publicly available data sources, working with our federal partners with the CDC and working with our state partners here in Iowa to better understand what’s happening nationally as well as how to incorporate what we’re learning here in Iowa,” Pedati said today.

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In mid-April, the state said it hadn’t sent its data to the University of Iowa College of Public Health, which holds the contract to develop the model.

At the time, Sarah Reisetter, the deputy director of IDPH, said the state wanted to have enough data to send over. They eventually did a few days after.

“But that’s why, again, [Test Iowa] will be really helpful because as Iowans go online and take the assessment it gives us a good idea of where some of the hot spots might be where we might see the clustering,” Reynolds said today.

Test Iowa is one way for the state to collect data.

It asks Iowans to first take an assessment to judge whether they should be tested for the coronavirus. It asks questions about people’s symptoms, whether they’ve been in contact with anyone with the virus and underlying health concerns.

“So as we start to open things back up in a responsible and safe manner we will be able to, through the assessment, watch and calculate through the state how that’s working and whether we’re seeing anything flare up,” Reynolds said.

A current model, developed by the University of Washington, exists and it shows Iowa’s peak will be nine deaths a day on May 5. It’s based on current mitigation strategies implemented by the state and the current death rate.

Neither Reynolds nor Pedati offered a timeline for when to expect an Iowa-specific model produced by the state.

“It really is going to be just an additional tool to what the department of public health and their team have been doing on a daily basis,” she said. “But that’s going to help drive some of the metrics we use.”


by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 4/24/20

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