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Iowa representatives ask for more COVID-19 testing in Council Bluffs

Iowa representatives ask for more COVID-19 testing in Council Bluffs

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LINCOLN — Three Iowa members of Congress are raising questions about why TestIowa — an almost identical COVID-19 testing program as one in Nebraska — hasn’t achieved a goal of 3,000 COVID-19 tests per day, and hasn’t targeted Council Bluffs, which they called “a hot spot.”

U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack, all Democrats, wrote a letter Tuesday to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds expressing concerns about the $26 million TestIowa program, offered by a group of Utah high-tech firms.

“We are concerned that Test Iowa still has not yielded 3,000 tests per day several weeks after its launch nor are there Test Iowa locations in ‘hotspot’ areas,” the members wrote. “We need to ensure that essential workers, nursing homes, and those who believe they have been exposed can get tests right away.”

The letter questioned why a TestIowa site hasn’t been set up in Council Bluffs, which they said has experienced a 418% increase in positive cases, from 33 cases on April 30 to 171 cases on May 18.

The TestIowa program, as well as the TestNebraska program, received funding from the federal CARES Act, passed by Congress to address the coronavirus outbreak.

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts has consistently defended the TestNebraska program, which was supposed to provide 3,000 COVID-19 tests per day by the end of May. Recently, he said he didn’t think the program would meet that benchmark.

Nebraska recently began listing all testing data in aggregate, instead of listing TestNebraska results separately. A request by The World-Herald on Monday to provide separated data had not been fulfilled as of Wednesday morning.

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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