Iowa COVID-19 Cases Surge, Reopening Plans Go Forward


By Nikoel Hytrek

May 3, 2020

This weekend, Iowa reported a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, putting the state at 9,169, something Gov. Kim Reynolds has warned people about in the past few days.

From Thursday to Friday, the total number reported Saturday increased by 757. From Friday to Saturday the number went up again by 528. Over those two days, the state’s total increased by 1,285.

The numbers reported online by the Iowa Department of Public Health are behind one day, so these numbers don’t account for tests done on Saturday.

Some of the total is a result of increased surveillance testing in the state, finding more people who have mild or no symptoms, in part at large workplaces and nursing homes that experienced outbreaks.

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This past week, the state tested thousands more Iowans as part of the new Test Iowa program which Reynolds said will eventually allow the state to test at least 3,000 Iowans a day, though it isn’t there yet.

By 11 a.m. Monday, 38,150 total Iowans had been tested since the first three cases were reported on March 8. As of 10 a.m. Saturday, the number was at 53,186, showing an increase of at least 15,036 in a week.

However, tests are still limited to high-risk populations like health care workers, meatpacking employees and their family members, and both residents and employees at long-term care facilities. The new Test Iowa sites have also only been set up in Des Moines and Waterloo so far, though that’s expected to expand.

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Over the week, reports of delayed results and questions about the validity of the tests were repeatedly raised at the governor’s press conferences.

Reynolds said the state hygienic lab in Coralville was aware of the backlog and was making adjustments to handle the influx in testing data. She said the backlog will be caught up this weekend.

“I want to assure Iowans that this is a short-term issue while the lab is transitioning to accommodate not only a higher volume of tests on an ongoing basis but as they work through the validation of the Test Iowa process,” she said.

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Because of the increased testing, Reynolds said the state will be able to better identify and isolate positive cases going forward. That’s her reasoning for easing economic restrictions in 77 counties in the state where virus outbreaks are less severe.


by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 5/3/20

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  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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