Eastern Iowans see delays in securing a COVID-19 test

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:40 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - As cases rise in the state, more people are looking to be tested for COVID-19, but more people across eastern Iowa are having trouble finding places to be tested.

KCRG-TV9′s i9 investigative unit tried to schedule a COVID-19 test at the TestIowa site in Linn County. The earliest we could get an appointment was on Thursday, even though we told the state we had a fever along with close contact with someone who tested positive.

That was better than other locations like Walgreens. We told the chain we were a healthcare worker with a fever and had contact with someone who tested positive. Its' Cedar Rapids location wouldn’t let us schedule a test for the rest of the week.

Kaitlin Emrich, who is a spokesperson for the Linn County Public Health Department, told i9 in an email it is aware of delays in securing a COVID-19 test.

“We do know there are delays with securing an appointment at Test Iowa or other locations in Linn County for those that are seeking a test,” Emrich said. "But unfortunately do not have control within our organization to alleviate these delays.

Emrich said its partners are doing what they can to solve the problem within their control. She also said the department is trying to remove financial barriers that stop people from getting tested.

The problem isn’t unique to Linn County. Steve Dreibelbis, who lives in Dubuque County, had to wait around three days to get a COVID-19 test. He was symptomatic after he had close contact with someone who tested positive. He said his wife is still having trouble receiving an appointment for a test.

“She went on[line] today to possibly get tested and her first test result is Saturday,” Dreibelbis said. “And today is Tuesday .”

Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease physician and public health researcher, said testing is extremely important to keep the disease from spreading.

“If people aren’t able to get in and get results in a timely fashion, they’re not able to then notify people and do appropriate contact tracing before that spread becomes pretty monumental," Srinivas said.

Srinivas said this can also affect the ability to properly identify the disease through testing.

Iowa has bought more tests through the TestIowa program. However, the state only has the capacity to process so many tests at once.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended the state increase testing. It’s most recent report said every county is in the red zone and to offer incentives for people under 40 to get tested.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.