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Test Iowa site opening in Cedar Rapids on Thursday

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Test Iowa is coming to Cedar Rapids earlier than expected. Originally, a soft opening was planned for May 11 and May 12, with full operations following that, but the timeline has been moved up.

Test Iowa’s Cedar Rapids location will instead have a soft opening on Thursday, May 7 and Friday, May 8. The site will be fully functioning by May 11.

The test site will be at Kirkwood’s Continuing Education Training Center, 101 50th Ave SW. Linn County Emergency Management determined that this is the best location, Cedar Rapids City manager Jeff Pomeranz said last week.

During a Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, government and public health officials said they have not been part of the conversation about Test Iowa coming to Linn County.

“It’s unfortunate the state has chosen not to partner with our local public health agency and [has chosen to] move this up, which creates a whole other logistical issue of getting people trained,” Supervisor Ben Rogers said. “I think it confuses the public.”

Supervisor Stacey Walker said he has been told that the Linn County site is only for essential workers.

“This is not even for the general public as far as we’ve been told, and you cannot access it just by driving up there,” Walker said. “You have to go to Test Iowa and be given a QR code and an appointment to go, and you have to arrive in a vehicle and be in a vehicle in order to receive the test.”

“I really hope the public understands this is not an operation that is run by Linn County Public Health,” Walker added. “Linn County Public Health and Linn County Emergency Management Agency and other local partners are doing the best we can to support a project that is being run and operated out of the governor’s office. So we’ll do the best we can to see to it that it runs as smoothly as possible.”

LCPH will do the contact tracing, which was originally supposed to be done by the National Guard. LCPH pushed to do the tracing because members of the the National Guard may not have adequate medical and epidemiology training, Walker said. The National Guard will still be part of the Test Iowa site, but members will serve in a different capacity.

“We also wanted to ensure that we were going to be custodians of the test results, whereas we couldn’t assure that if another entity performed the contact tracing,” Walker said.

Iowa National Guard soldiers and a local health care professional operate a traffic control point at the COVID-19 testing site at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on April 25, 2020. — National Guard

LCPH Director Pramod Dwivedi updated the supervisors on his department’s work and why there had been a discrepancy earlier in the week between the number of COVID-19 cases LCPH was reporting and the number reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

According to Dwivedi, most of the difference was due to IDPH not informing LCPH in a timely manner about Linn County residents who were tested in other counties during state testing at meat processing plants where they work.

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The discrepancy has been corrected now, Dwivedi said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, LCPH is reporting 786 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 55 deaths caused by the virus. The numbers LCPH reported today are higher than IDPH’s numbers due to IDPH’s one-day time lag.

While Linn County no longer leads in confirmed number of cases, according to IDPH’s totals, more of its residents have died from the virus than in any other county in the state. Dwivedi offered an important reminder during Wednesday’s meeting: “These are not just statistics. These are people who are dying. These are people who are getting hospitalized.”

Linn County Public Health has been encouraging anyone with questions to contact the governor’s office or go to the Test Iowa website. If an individual qualifies for testing through Test Iowa after filling out an online assessment, they will be notified and contacted to schedule an appointment for a drive-through test.

Another Cedar Rapids officer tests positive for COVID-19

A second Cedar Rapids police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release published Tuesday evening.

The officer, who last worked on Saturday, requested a test on Sunday and was informed Tuesday morning of the positive results. The officer was off-duty when they experienced minor symptoms at home. The officer is currently self-isolating.


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