Reynolds scraps decision to partner with Microsoft

In order to not interfere with the vaccination process, Gov. Kim Reynolds reversed her decision to partner with Microsoft to create a centralized vaccination scheduling system for Iowans after announcing the partnership last week.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that the Iowa Department of Public Health is no longer moving forward on a contract with Microsoft that would have created a central vaccine registration system for Iowans. 

During a Feb. 10 press conference, Reynolds said the state was going to partner with Microsoft to develop this system, but is now saying she has reversed that decision and said that the state will instead shift its focus to optimizing existing systems. 

Reynolds said that developing an entirely new system would be inefficient while pharmacies are working hard to provide vaccines to Iowans. 

“It quickly became apparent that integrating the many already existing registration and scheduling platforms that are used by some of our public health departments, pharmacies, as well as other vaccine providers, would not be possible in a timely manner without significant disruption to their current systems and we did not want to slow down the process,” Reynolds said. 

The Johnson County Public Health Department had warned against creating a centralized vaccine registration system because of uncertain amounts of vaccine doses and appointment availabilities.

While vaccines are being prioritized by Iowans, Reynolds said they need to remember the importance of testing. 

Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services Kelly Garcia said as of next week, the state coronavirus website will be reporting test results differently. Rather than reporting the number of individuals who took tests, it will only report the number of total tests to better represent the positivity rate. 

Because one person may take a COVID-19 test more than once, the process to deduplicate the tests by individual has become more complex, Garcia said. She said that at-home testing capabilities will be available by spring, so the expansion of testing approaches further limit the state’s ability to monitor all test results at an individual level. 

“This switch from individual tests to total tests means that the positivity rate overall will align with total test results,” Garcia said. 

Reynolds said last week that the state would withhold vaccine doses from five Iowa counties. On Wednesday Reynolds said she wanted to allow local public health officials a week to administer the remaining supply of vaccines before the next shipment arrived. She said that these counties still had a surplus of doses to administer and did not want to risk any going to waste. 

Reynolds also announced a proposal for a $5 million appropriation to help fund the Herbert Hoover Tax Credit to encourage Iowans to donate to the Herbert Hoover Museum and Library in West Branch that is in need of a renovation.

The tax credit would equal 25 percent of an individual’s donation, Reynolds said and can be deducted on state income taxes. 

The library and museum of the former president and Iowa native would need 90 percent of the necessary funds before construction can begin, but Reynolds expects the project to be completed by 2024. 

Alan Hoover, great-grandson of Herbert Hoover, told Iowans why the project is so important to him and his family. The museum has not been updated since 1992, and he said that no other presidential museum in history has gone as long without a renovation. 

Hoover said he spoke with Iowa legislators who were supportive of the tax credit and keeping his great-grandfather’s memory alive. 

“On behalf of the family, I am deeply grateful, we are deeply grateful for the people of Iowa, both houses of the legislature, and Governor Reynolds for this tremendous support in helping this project become one step closer to reality,” Hoover said. 

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