Capital Clicks

Iowa will further scale back its public COVID-19 reporting

By: - February 23, 2023 5:53 pm

Iowa plans to report on COVID-19 as it does other respiratory illnesses. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Iowa is expected to dismantle its dedicated webpage for COVID-19 data and instead publish an unspecified amount of that data weekly in its existing respiratory virus surveillance reports starting April 1.

Further, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services will cease its requirement for clinical labs to report the results of COVID-19 tests.

“It’s important for Iowans to know that the Public Health Division will monitor the virus, just as we do for other respiratory illnesses,” State Medical Director Robert Kruse said in a press release.

Free, state-provided tests that are mailed for evaluation will be available for the rest of the year.

The department said its current reporting doesn’t accurately reflect the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

“Since the development and widespread availability of rapid in-home tests — which are not required to be reported — the case and positive test counts in the state are no longer as meaningful as they once were,” the department said.

The state’s current reporting practices have been in place since about a year ago when it shut down a dedicated website that had more information.

Despite the rise of a new, more-virulent coronavirus strain — omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 — the state’s reported infection rate has been relatively flat in recent weeks and is relatively low compared with other points of the pandemic.

It has been nearly three years since the virus was first detected in Iowa. More than 900,000 people have been infected at least once in the state in that time, and at least 10,671 infected people have died.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.