COVID-19: Another 512 Iowans test positive; the governor orders limits testing at Dubuque’s Test Iowa site

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported on Tuesday that another 512 Iowans had tested positive for COVID-19 during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. The new cases bring the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus to 39,419.

The department also reported another five deaths between 10 a.m. on Monday and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, increasing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 798.

According to IDPH, eight residents of Johnson County tested positive for COVID-19 during that same 24-hour period. That is the second time since June 17 fewer than 10 new cases have been reported for the county during a single day.

Separately, the University of Iowa Athletics Department disclosed on Monday that an individual it had tested for the virus last week was confirmed as being infected. Another 69 people the department had tested were negative. The department has been testing student athletes, coaches and staff since May 29, and reported that 26 of 513 tests conducted so far have been positive.

IDPH reported another 30 cases of COVID-19 in Linn County on Tuesday. The county has now had nine consecutive days of double-digit increases in confirmed cases.

The statewide positivity rate — the percentage of people being tested who were confirmed as having COVID-19 — for the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Tuesday was 12.9 percent. In Linn County, the positivity rate was 7.1 percent. Johnson County had a positivity rate of 4 percent.

According to IDPH, 28,307 of the Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now considered recovered. The department considers anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to be recovered after 28 days, unless it is informed otherwise.

On Monday, the City of Dubuque issued a news release stating the governor’s office had ordered a reduction in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted at the Test Iowa site in Dubuque, and is no longer allowing nurses to help people without internet access schedule tests.

As a result, testing at this location will be limited to 100 tests per day and the Dubuque Visiting Nurses Association will no longer be allowed to assist residents with assessments by phone. (Test Iowa advises people without internet access to ask a trusted family member or friend with internet access to assist in taking the online assessment.)

The new schedule for the Test Iowa Clinic at 1075 Cedar Cross Road in Dubuque will be from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Thursday. If the site reaches the maximum of 100 tests before 7 a.m., testing will be suspended until the next scheduled day.

Like Johnson County, Dubuque County has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Almost 60 percent of the county’s 1,217 cases have been reported since its Test Iowa site opened on June 22.

A spokesperson for the governor has been sending the same reply to all media inquiries about the changes Reynolds ordered: “We requested this temporary change to ensure their process is in line with others across the state of Iowa. We want to maintain consistency and high quality performance across all Test Iowa sites.”

The uninformative reply to those questions comes as news organizations have been highlighting the Reynolds administration’s lack of transparency regarding COVID-19. All information regarding the virus has to be approved by the governor’s office before being released to the media, former IDPH spokesperson Polly Carver-Kimm told Radio Iowa.

“All the people who work at IDPH have the best interests of the health of Iowans in mind. This is a situation that it’s no surprise to anyone that’s become a political football, too, and so all of the media is vetted by the governor’s office,” Carver-Kimm said.

After 12 years as the lead spokesperson for the department, Carver-Kimm was forced to resign last week. According to her, IDPH Gerd Clabaugh said she would be fired if she did not quit.

Despite the fact that Carver-Kimm was the department’s lead spokesperson, starting in late March IDPH no longer allowed her to handle COVID-19-related inquiries. Carver-Kimm told the Des Moines Register she believed that was because she was being too aggressive in her attempts to get information to reporters at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I tried really hard to be as open as we legally can be,” she said.

Amy McCoy, who has been serving IDPH’s spokesperson on COVID-19 matters, told the Register that Carver-Kimm had been given the choice of resigning or being fired because “there is a desire to make a change in direction in communications at the department.”