The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will offer COVID-19 testing starting Friday in an effort to ramp up testing capacity for the disease.
While physicians can order a test for those suspected of having the novel coronavirus, a Monday announcement said, testing will continue to follow certain criteria amid a national shortage of testing materials. The U.S. is widely reported to have conducted the fewest COVID-19 tests per capita.
Testing will be prioritized for hospital patients with fever and respiratory failure with no alternative diagnosis, adults over age 60 with fever and respiratory symptoms and chronic medical conditions, individuals with fever and respiratory illness who live in a congregate setting, and essential service workers with fever and respiratory illness.
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“If your patient does not fall into one of the above categories but you have clinical suspicion for COVID-19, you will still be allowed to place the order,” the message said. “However, in the event of a testing shortage the test may be canceled or may have a longer turnaround time. We must prioritize testing to those for whom test results will have the greatest impact. Test orders will be reviewed for appropriateness.”
Others who don’t fall into these categories can place the order for a test, but they may face a cancelation or a long turnaround time if a testing shortage occurs, according to the announcement.
The guidelines for testing are in line with the requirements from the University of Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory, which does most testing for the state and is stationed in Coralville. The lab, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan, has added a second shift in efforts to expedite the testing process.
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a press conference Monday afternoon that the state anticipated the number of COVID-19 cases would rise in Iowa as testing efforts increase.
As of Tuesday evening in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health has reported 124 confirmed COVID-19 cases and labs have conducted 2,315 negative tests. Eighteen people are currently hospitalized, and nine patients have been discharged from hospitals and are recovering while the rest of those who tested positive were never hospitalized.