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Reynolds says refresh underway for state’s coronavirus website

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds today said the state website with coronavirus data is being updated.

“We’re trying to really kind of refresh the website right now to be more, I think, accurate in the information that we’re giving Iowans, so that’s coming soon. We’re working on it right now,” Reynolds said during a news conference at the Iowa State Fair. “We think it will provide better information for Iowa families so they can better understand what’s going on.”

No word yet on exactly what, if any, additional information may be posted or how the website may be reconfigured.

“We are working on updates that will streamline user experience on the site, making it simpler for Iowans to access information and navigate the site,” said Sarah Ekstrad of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Democrats in the legislature have criticized the Reynolds Administration for shifting to weekly updates on the website this summer, saying it’s happening as parents are making decisions about whether to send young, unvaccinated kids back to school. The governor said there are no plans to resume daily updates to the state’s coronavirus website.

“We’re not really seeing much changes throughout the day or on a daily basis,” Reynolds said, “but we have the epi team, we have the Department of Public Health, we have all of our team watching it closely every single day and if we need to anything differently, we’ll adjust moving forward.”

There is a backlog of requests for at-home Covid test kits provided by the state, free of charge. Reynolds told reporters state officials “expected” there would be high demand for kits. According to the governor, up to 48,000 Test Iowa kits have been mailed out, but fewer than a fourth of them have been used.

“So what’s happening is people are stockpiling the test so that they’re ready to go into probably the fall,” Reynolds said, “but we have very few that have actually activated the test and spit into the sample and sent it back.”

Inmates at the state prison for women in Mitchellville are being paid to assemble the test kits. Iowa Department of Corrections officials estimate the women can assemble up to 25,000 kits per week. The process does not provide snap results, as it takes a few days to get a requested kit in the mail and then the sample must be packaged and mailed to the State Hygienic Lab. The lab pledges to provide results via email within 24 hours of getting the test kit.

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