(The Center Square) – In response to increasing demand for COVID-19 testing, Iowa Department of Public Health announced Wednesday its recommendations on testing as well as changes it has made to the Test Iowa website.
“Increased demand for testing is putting additional strain on health care clinics and emergency rooms,” the department said in a news release.
Employers across Iowa have begun mandating vaccines and testing. Polk County adopted a resolution on September 14 mandating employees provide proof of vaccination by Sept. 30 or submit weekly testing results “and complete educational requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.” President Joe Biden announced in September that private employers with at least 100 employees must require all employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or get tested weekly.
The department said Iowans should consider testing options based on their circumstances “to ensure that Iowa’s health care resources are available for those who need care.”
It said that Iowans with “mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19” or exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID should get tested in a health care setting or use Test Iowa at home. People who are testing for travel “or other proactive purposes” should schedule an appointment at a local pharmacy or buy a home test kit from a retailer or pharmacy. Those who have severe symptoms or are at high risk of serious illness should seek medical care.
Iowans can find COVID-19 testing through a testing locator map at coronavirus.iowa.gov, which lists Test Iowa test kit pick-up sites and locations of clinics, private labs, and pharmacies that offer in-person testing. The website describes types of tests available and their respective costs.
To expedite test processing, seven Test Iowa pick-up sites will now also provide same-day delivery of samples to the State Hygienic Lab Monday through Friday, and results “should be” emailed within 24 hours of the lab’s receipt of the test kit, the release said.
Site locations are:
- Black Hawk County: Peoples Community Health Clinic, 905 Franklin Street, Waterloo
- Linn County Public Health: 1020 6th Street Southeast, Cedar Rapids
- Johnson County Public Health: 855 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City
- Polk County Public Health: 1907 Carpenter, Des Moines
- Pottawattamie County Public Health: 600 South 4th Street, Council Bluffs
- Scott County Public Health: 600 W 4th Street, Davenport
- Woodbury County, Siouxland District Health Department: 1014 Nebraska Street, Sioux City
Sites’ drop-off hours are listed on testiowa.com.
In the release, the department urged Iowans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and for the flu and to ask their health care providers any questions they have.
“By getting vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19, we can prevent avoidable hospitalizations and help preserve health care resources for other needs, including illnesses, injuries and emergencies,” the release said.
The CDC has reported that 71 percent of Iowan adults, 92 percent of Iowan seniors, and 69 percent of Iowans aged 12 years and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Consistently, between 75%-80% of Iowans recently hospitalized due to COVID-19 were unvaccinated when they became infected, and 80-90% of those admitted to an intensive care unit were unvaccinated,” the release said.
As of Thursday, 201 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 2.03k inpatient beds (27.32 percent) are available in Iowa, the state reported on coronavirus.iowa.gov. On October 7, 2020, 437 ICU beds were available. Past 24-hours admissions of COVID patients were 92 on Thursday and 91 on Wednesday.