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Reynolds defends decision to decline $95 million in federal funds

DES MOINES — Governor Reynolds says she declined $95 million dollars in federal funds for Covid surveillance testing in Iowa schools because the state has nearly $300 million in federal funding available for testing.

“We can’t continue to just take this money. There is a cost to taxpayers,” Reynolds said during a news conference Wednesday. “And the amount of money that is flowing into these states because of some of the bad decisions that some of the other states have made is unconscionable.”

Public health officials say surveillance testing isn’t about diagnosing individuals, but about collecting data to understand and predict outbreaks.

“We haven’t to date had any school reach out to do the surveillance testing,” Reynolds said. “Even when we proactively offered with the Iowa City High School, they declined it or didn’t ask for it because they felt that they had the resources there.”

Iowa City schools had a spike in Covid cases last month.

Several Democratic lawmakers have criticized the Republican governor for turning down money congress approved in March, saying the state should accept all the pandemic support it’s offered. The Iowa Department of Public Health has asked the CDC if the $95 million could be used instead on vaccine distribution.

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