State Hygienic Lab, IDPH doesn’t have the testing capacity for new federal guidelines

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 6:43 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A federal agency is directing the state of Iowa to test staff members in long-term care facilities routinely, but a letter from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the State Hygienic Laboratory said it can’t provide the testing services needed to comply with the new guidance.

The letter from IDPH and the State Hygienic Laboratory said the new guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directs long-term care facilities to routinely test staff, including consultants, contractors, and volunteers.

Pat Garrett, who is a spokesperson with the Governor’s office, said those new guidelines would generate more than 130,00 tests per week in addition to the other testing already underway.

The State Hygienic Lab has the ability to process around 5,000 tests per day currently. Even though it is increasing their capacity to around 7,000 tests daily, or 49,000 weekly, that would still fall significantly short of the capacity needed for the new guidelines.

“The state of Iowa has and will continue to be a leader of testing at our long-term care facilities," Garrett said. "IDPH and SHL continue to test in facilities when staff or residents become symptomatic, and when positive cases are identified.”

As the letter noted, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intends to supply rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing supplies and equipment to long-term care facilities in Iowa.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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