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Iowa labs will soon no longer have to report COVID-19 test results
At-home tests, which aren’t required to be reported, have grown in popularity — and have made the state’s weekly COVID-19 data reporting ‘less meaningful’
The Iowa Department of Health and Humans Services will no longer require labs to report COVID-19 test results to the state starting April 1, the department announced Thursday afternoon in a news release.
Since rapid at-home tests have grown in popularity and aren’t required to be reported, the department said the weekly case and positive test counts in the state are “no longer as meaningful as they once were.”
“This type of reporting no longer accurately reflects the prevalence of the virus in the state,” the release said.
Iowa HHS has required labs to report any processed COVID-19 test result to the state Public Health division and then to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since March 2020.
The department has been releasing the data on a weekly basis since July 2021. Before that, COVID-19 data was updated daily. The state pulled the plug on two state-managed pandemic websites early last year.
Also starting April 1, Iowa HHS will get rid of its current COVID-19 reporting dashboard and start incorporating the data in its weekly respiratory virus surveillance reports.
Iowa currently has no mandatory reporting of any other respiratory viruses such as influenza, RSV and rhinovirus.
“It’s important for Iowans to know that the Public Health Division will monitor the (COVID-19) virus, just as we do for other respiratory illnesses,” said state medical director Robert Kruse in the department’s news release. “The Public Health Division will continue to work collaboratively with our local health departments, healthcare partners in the state, and partners at the federal level.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans for the federal public health emergency for COVID-19 to expire on May 11. TestIowa at Home will continue to offer free COVID-19 testing for Iowans through the end of 2023.
In the Iowa HHS’s Wednesday COVID-19 data release, the number of new cases in Iowa was down over the last week, but hospitalizations were up by more than 17 percent.
As of this week, 900,343 Iowans have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic nearly three years ago.
Brittney J. Miller is the Energy & Environment Reporter for The Gazette and a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
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