Upon learning that local officials in Dubuque were ordered to slow down coronavirus testing there, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer sent a letter to Gov. Kim Reynolds asking why procedures and hours of operation at the Test Iowa clinic were being changed.
On Monday, the Telegraph Herald reported that Epic Health and Wellness, where the Test Iowa clinic is located, could not test for COVID-19 more than 100 times per day. The clinic’s hours also were dramatically scaled back. The clinic is only open now from 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Prior to the governor’s mandate, the clinic was testing up to 550 people per day, according to the Telegraph Herald.
Finkenauer, who grew up in a small town north of Dubuque and now represents the 1st Congressional District, asked Reynolds in a letter Tuesday to explain why testing protocols were changed in Dubuque, if more money was needed to keep coronavirus testing in the county and whether testing backlogs in Iowa were contributing to long wait times for test results.
“There is simply no room for error as we work to keep our constituents safe from COVID-19,” Finkenauer wrote. “I am concerned that decreasing testing in places like Dubuque County could prevent progress toward controlling the virus and getting our economy back on track. Iowans expect data-driven decisions from their leaders, and that means keeping enough testing where COVID-19 cases are high and where there is demand for testing.”
Let’s call this what it is: #TestIowa is rationing coronavirus tests even as cases spike in Dubuque County. Iowans deserve adequate testing in every community, and we should demand it. #IA01 https://t.co/9AW1EuACvZ
— Abby Finkenauer (@RepFinkenauer) July 20, 2020
Reynolds’ decision to scale back testing there comes as Dubuque County experiences “its most staggering case counts of the entire pandemic,” Finkenauer said.
As of Wednesday morning, Dubuque County was reporting 1,239 positive COVID-19 cases. Positive tests have risen sharply in the Northeast Iowa county over the last 30 days.
“Now is not the time to be ramping testing down anywhere in our state — in fact, testing is needed now more than ever to identify and contain the spread of the virus,” the congresswoman said.
According to the Telegraph Herald, the governor’s spokesperson, Pat Garrett, said changes were made to the Test Iowa site “to ensure their process is in line with others across the state.”
The newspaper said Garrett did not answer questions about the governor’s specific concerns with Dubuque’s testing process.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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