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Pottawattamie County faces COVID-19 testing shortage; the public health department says it is running out of options

Since Test Iowa stopped there aren't enough "at-home" test kits.
Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 20:09:19-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. (KMTV) — Mills County Public Health gives out anywhere from 10 to 25 take-home COVID-19 test kits a day. The department can only order 50 at a time and does everything they can to stay ahead of the curve.

"We have always ordered at least once a week, sometimes twice," Nurse Valerie Ramsey said.

Since the Test Iowa sites closed earlier this year there's a big need for this kind of testing.

"This is free, there are other places where you can be tested, but there is a charge for that or they bill your insurance, so these PCR tests are free," Ramsey said.

That lack of testing resources is beginning to make a real impact. Pottawattamie County Public Health's Matt Wyant says departments like his are struggling with communication and testing demand.

"When you look at our population of 93,000 our site is being allowed 50 at-home kits per week, and as soon as we get them, we stick another order back in because they are going out, currently we ran out yesterday on Wednesday of ones to hand out, that puts us all the way to Monday or Tuesday before our new shipment arrives in," Wyant said.

Wyant says making testing accessible should be a top priority because, without resources, he faces a challenging situation.

"We're really running up against 'Do we know what's going on in our county?'" Wyant said. "If enough people aren't getting tested, when the frustration builds towards the testing process, what people will wind up doing is just not getting tested."

According to Wyant, there's a scaling back of communication from the Iowa Department of Public Health - he's also reached out to Gov. Kim Reynolds - but he's failing to get consistent messaging.

"It's back and forth on communication instead of just coming forward with local communities and saying this is how we can help or letting us know they don't have the resources available to them," Wyant said.

As Wyant struggles to find where the Department's authority lies, he does his best to guide his community.

"Whether we go back to on-site Test Iowa model, something that's available for all the public to get down to or we do a large ramp-up of testing kits, we need to make sure those resources are available this fall as we see this variant ramp up and more people become ill," Wyant said.

If you need to get tested, call Pottawattamie County Public Health at (712) 242-1155. The Department can direct you to other resources. There are take-home kits at All Care Community Health Centers.

The Iowa Department of Public Health also announced it will start updating its COVID-19 dashboard more frequently.

RELATED: CHI wants people to avoid the ER when seeking COVID-19 tests; suggests better options

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