Reynolds: Anyone who wants a COVID-19 test will get one

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses the latest COVID-19 numbers during her daily press conference at the Iowa National Guard in Johnston on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Photo by Bryon Houlgrave/Pool, The Des Moines Register)

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday announced that any Iowan who wants to be checked for COVID-19 will be able to get a test through Test Iowa

“Later today, we will be expanding the criteria so that anyone who thinks they should be tested can be,” Reynolds said at her news conference Thursday. “This is especially important as more Iowans are going back to work.”

Details on testing locations will be released next week, Reynolds reported. Those interested can immediately take the online assessment to begin the process, she added. 

The expansion of Test Iowa monitoring is important to the state’s efforts to reopen, Reynolds said. On Friday, movie theaters, bars, fitness centers, campgrounds will be able to open, many with restrictions on occupancy and other limitations. Some other businesses and facilities opened May 15.

Reynolds also announced that all school activities — sports, classes, drama camps, etc. — will be allowed starting June 1.

The state has faced criticism both because not everyone who had symptoms or had been exposed to the virus could get a test, and because some have waited more than a week for results. Reynolds said things improved after a state lab confirmed the Test Iowa protocols.

The state on Thursday reported 19 new deaths from COVID-19, one of the highest numbers to date. The day before, 18 were reported. 

The total coronavirus deaths in Iowa stood at 404 at noon Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. 

Reynolds said a record 4,636 tests were administered Wednesday. A total of 355 Iowans tested positive that day. 

Another 700 tests were scheduled for Thursday. This week, 3,000 had been tested through the end of Wednesday, the governor said.  

To date, 15,956 Iowans have tested positive for the virus. 

When a reporter asked the governor why the she is opening more facilities when experts say it will be early June before the effects of her previous openings from May 15 are known, Reynolds gave a pointed defense. 

“We are seeing positive results,” Reynolds said. “We are seeing the trends go down. We are seeing the (test) positivity rate going down. Yesterday it was 7.7%.” Added testing has made it easier to track the virus, she added. 

“We can manage and monitor and contain the virus across the state,” the governor said. “We have never said that we were going to prevent people from getting COVID-19. That’s unrealistic, it’s unattainable. What we have to do is learn to live with it and manage the virus. We have to get things back to normal.”

Reynolds appeared to take reporters to task. 

“You never want to talk about the other side of that. You never want to talk about children who are locked in homes with abusive parents who don’t have eyes on them like they (did) when they were at school. You don’t talk about the increase in the number of people who suffer from substance abuse,” Reynolds said at a news conference. 

“We don’t talk about the impact on Iowans who have lost their jobs and are sitting at their kitchen table, trying to figure out how they are going to pay their mortgage or buy food for their families. There is a cost. An increase in mental illness. There is a society cost, also, to just shutting down, and not realistically moving forward through this pandemic,” she said. 

The governor added that she has confidence in Iowans’  work to stay safe and the mitigation strategies businesses are using.  “We can do it. We are doing it. We’re going to continue to do it,” she said. 

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.