Iowa’s COVID-19 Response Still Lags Behind

As President Joe Biden implements new policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reynolds administration has Iowa’s status in terms of testing stuck among the lowest in the country.

According to data compiled by the Washington Post, Iowa reported 578 tests in the last seven days, per 100,000 residents. That number puts Iowa above Puerto Rico and Northern Mariana Islands. Right above Iowa, are South Dakota and Idaho.

However, it’s important to note that tracking the number of tests is complicated.

“The number of specimens reported does not necessarily equal the number of people tested,” the website notes. 

From the project’s explanation: “How complicated could it be to calculate total test results for a state? As it turns out, very complicated. It did not take us long for us to realize that, because the federal government has failed to provide data standards, total testing data would be one of the most ambiguous of all the data points we tracked; there are at least three different units that can be used to count totals, each with its own pros and cons.”

On the other end, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York rank close-to or more than 10,000 new tests reported in the last seven days.

When it comes to positivity rates over the last seven days, Iowa is among the highest, according to the same data from the Washington Post.

The data shows that 32 percent of tests in Iowa have been positive over the past week. Alabama is the only state with a higher percentage of 33. Granted, the number is probably due to the type of people who get tested in Iowa.

To obtain a slot, Iowans must first take an assessment on the Test Iowa website to determine their risk. The Test Iowa website also says people with symptoms, those who have interacted with someone who’s tested positive and people who have recently visited places with widespread outbreaks will be prioritized for testing.

Those criteria means people who get tested are more likely to test positive than a state that tests more broadly.

However, according to the New York Times tracker, Iowa metro areas aren’t doing significantly worse than anywhere else in the country in terms of current or potential outbreaks.

According to the data, Sioux City is the eighth hardest hit metro area in terms of confirmed cases per 1,000 people. It’s the only Iowa city to make the top 20.

The most recent state data shows that Iowa has 315,421 positive cases and has tested more than 1.4 million Iowans.

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