Staff Editorial

Test Iowa is a failure

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday, April
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in Johnston.

On Tuesday, Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand released a report stating that the Test Iowa program violates state law by not reporting COVID-19 test results immediately to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Test Iowa is a partnership between the state of Iowa and Nomi Health, a tech company based in Utah, for COVID-19 testing. Gov. Kim Reynolds entered into the $26 million, no-bid contract in April and the program was launched April 21.

Similar programs are underway in Nebraska and Utah. Since Test Iowa began, the program has failed to attain its promise of efficient and accurate COVID-19 testing in the state. Reporting by The Gazette found problems with the equipment, the testing process and delays in results. Reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune also has raised questions about the reliability of the tests.

The auditor’s report verifies reporting by The Gazette about problems with Test Iowa equipment and outlines how, once the State Hygienic Lab processes the tests, they are sent to two data companies, Domo and Qualtrics, who contract with Nomi Health, before being sent to IDPH.

The report concludes: “The reporting chain for Test Iowa results is contrary to law, takes apparently pointless risks, and exposes taxpayers to potential legal liabilities.”

The report added, “The Test Iowa reporting system is illegal because the results are not reported immediately to IDPH, which Iowa Code 139A.3(1) requires.”

Included in the report is a reply to the Auditor’s Office from the Attorney General’s Office, which notes that the delay is from “three to ten hours” which the state considers timely reporting.

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But the auditor’s report points out that there is absolutely no reason for this delay and in a pandemic when time is of the essence, every delay is crucial. Additionally, reporting by The Gazette and the Des Moines Register has shown that many Iowans have experienced significant delays in receiving their results.

The auditor’s report is just another in a long line of questions and concerns about the public-private partnership, which Reynolds entered into on the advice of actor Ashton Kutcher.

The resulting partnership has been a quagmire of inadequate testing, all in the name of reopening the economy. But as the state has reopened, cases are rising and it’s clear that Test Iowa isn’t up to the challenge of the pandemic.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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