CORONAVIRUS

Drive-through coronavirus testing coming Thursday to Cedar Rapids, with limitations

Local officials frustrated by lack of communication with governor's office about Test Iowa, social-distancing guidelines

A public health worker is shown April 22 at a coronavirus testing site at the Toledo Juvenile Home in Toledo. The state
A public health worker is shown April 22 at a coronavirus testing site at the Toledo Juvenile Home in Toledo. The state is opening a drive-through coronavirus testing site Thursday at Kirkwood Community College, but local officials said they’ve been told the tests, by appointment only, are primarily for those considered essential workers. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The first Test Iowa drive-through coronavirus testing in Linn County — for those with appointments — opens Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. at Kirkwood Community College.

This is the fourth Test Iowa site to open in the state. Iowans must fill out an assessment at TestIowa.com to determine if they qualify for testing and schedule an appointment to get tested.

The testing will be done at Kirkwood’s Continuing Education Training Center, 101 50th Ave. SW.

The state will conduct all testing — a sinus swab that takes about a minute.

Linn County Public Health will conduct contact tracing for anyone who tests positive.

Pramod Dwivedi, director of Linn County Public Health, told county supervisors Wednesday his department was not part of the conversation to open a Test Iowa site in Cedar Rapids.

Supervisor Stacey Walker said it’s “unfortunate” local public health officials aren’t involved in planning testing sites.

Walker said the state told him the Test Iowa site is for essential workers,

“This is not for the general public, and you cannot access it just by driving up there,” Walker said.

Walker said initially, the Iowa National Guard was to help with contact tracing, but Linn County Public Health advocated to continue to do that.

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“We’d rather have people who have some medical training doing that,” he said. “We also wanted to ensure we were going to be custodians of the test results. We couldn’t ensure that if another entity performed the contact tracing.”

Supervisor Brent Oleson said not everyone who wants to be tested will be eligible. Oleson said, for example, he wants to be tested but doesn’t qualify.

“There’s no testing available for people who just want to test,” he said.

Dwivedi voiced frustration with the lack of communication between the governor’s office and county officials.

“What’s wrong with talking to your local folks? Your boards of supervisors, boards of health. These are not just statistics, these are people who are dying, people who are getting hospitalized,” Dwivedi said.

With the governor’s order for social distancing expiring May 15, supervisors said they have no indication whether the governor will extend those guidelines.

“I know the governor is raising the banner saying ‘Mission accomplished,’ and is off to Washington, D.C., to share best practices about the success we’re having in Iowa, but if you study the metrics (and) listen to the statisticians, the assessment is quite different from the governor’s,” Walker said.

For more information about Test Iowa, visit TestIowa.com or contact the governor’s office at (515) 281-5211.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

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All donations are tax-deductible.