I write this as a person who has recovered from COVID-19. I began flashing symptoms in early July, took those symptoms seriously, qualified for a test through Test Iowa and got my positive result back the next day.
I went to the Test Iowa website and took a survey of symptoms associated with the virus to determine if I qualified for a test.
After Test Iowa determined that I did qualify, I had to find a testing site. There were several sites across the state, but I was able to find a site in Dubuque at Epic Health and Wellness for the next day. I made a call into the Dubuque site to find out what I might expect when I got there.
The test site opened at 5 a.m. and stopped testing at 9 a.m. I was told to expect long lines of cars. I was also advised to arrive early.
I left my house at 3:30 a.m. and was in a line of approximately 60 cars less than an hour later. The queue began inching its way through promptly at 5 a.m. I was back on the road for home by 6:15 a.m., passing at least 150 cars still in line.
As I sat in line, I had plenty of time to think. I wondered how early morning testing is convenient? How does it serve the public and public health? Granted, it’s the first pandemic any of us have experienced. But I have to think for lots of people, that four-hour window of testing isn’t easy to make.
Last week Gov. Kim Reynolds directed Epic Health and Wellness to only take 100 tests per day and to offer testing only an hour a day, from 6-7 a.m. In addition, testing days were reduced to three days a week. Local officials said before the reduction the site was taking between 400-500 tests a day.
In addition, Reynolds said that visiting nurses may no longer help residents who don’t have internet access to take the Test Iowa assessment. Instead, those folks should have a trusted family member or friend help them.
Information from the Governor’s office about how this move supports public health is vague at best. Reynolds has said she is ordering an additional 2,000 test kits be made available to other sites in Dubuque. That would be enough tests for a week or two based on the number of tests previously given.
If the need is there, offer testing during regular office hours somewhere. Or if it may only be a four-hour window of testing, begin at a time that is easier for people to make.
I was lucky. My symptoms, with the exception of a couple of days, were mild. My wife and I had to isolate away from each other in the same house, which proved to be a bit challenging at times. She had to quarantine as well, but has tested negative for the virus.
My coworkers covered for me when I couldn’t be at assignments. Neighbors brought food and mowed the lawn. Our son and daughter-in-law purchased groceries for us.
We are lucky to have a great support system. And “Iowa Nice” was easy to see from all the acts of kindness sent our way.
But there are others that don’t have those supports. To me, that’s where the state of Iowa can and should help. But limiting testing in a county that shows increased cases of the virus isn’t the way to get a handle on this. It’s not convenient. It isn’t nice. And it certainly isn’t Iowa. At least it shouldn’t be.