Gov. Reynolds announces new test Iowa contract, as 95 counties in White House Red Zone for COVID-19 cases
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds announced the state will add more contact tracers and buy more tests for its controversial Test Iowa program as COVID-19 cases spike in the state.
The governor said the state will buy another 360,000 tests for around $3.4 million. Gov. Reynolds said the state has around 140,000 tests left and believes those tests will last until December 11.
The original contract with NOMI Health, which is based in Utah, gave the state 540,000 tests for $25 million. The governor bought the tests after actor Ashton Kutcher told her about the program.
Iowa State Auditor said the reporting chain has delays, takes pointless risks, and increases liabilities for taxpayers. Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson called the program a “publicity stunt" and an “enormous failure”. State lawmakers are also calling for an investigation into the no-bid contract for Test Iowa.
KCRG TV9 i9 investigative unit reported Iowa can’t track the number of positive, negative, or inconclusive tests performed by the program.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force in its latest report recommended Iowa increase it’s testing capacity so it could test people weekly in 95 different counties in the Red Zone.
Its' report said Iowa is seeing the 4th highest rate of Covid-19 cases in the county and asked for additional mitigation efforts like mask mandates and limits to indoor dining at restaurants.
Gov. Reynolds also announced Test Iowa is expanding its capacity by adding 200 more appointments to its daily schedule. The five state operated drive-through sites can now test a combined 4,040 Iowans Monday through Friday.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported a total of 1,208 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday. The state also reported an additional 4,337 COVID-19 cases and 30 COVID-19 related deaths over the last 24 hours. That’s the second most deaths the state has reported over a 24-hour period.
UnityPoint hospitals in the Des Moines area reached their capacity due to Covid-19 on Tuesday.
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