Test Iowa site opens in Dickinson County

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
The Dickinson County Fairgrounds opened as a Test Iowa site on Monday. Participants should complete the online assessment, print out the bar code at the end of the survey, have a photo ID on hand. Then, use the west entrance off of 15th Street in Spirit Lake to line up for testing. (Photo by Russ Mitchell)

A total of 466 Iowans lined up for the Dickinson County's Test Iowa clinic in its first two days of operation, according to Dickinson County Emergency Management Director Michael Ehret. The Dickinson County Fairgrounds clinic saw 254 patients on Monday. Another 212 tests were collected on Tuesday.

"There were a few cars lined up yesterday (Monday) but it wasn't more than a 10-minute wait, I heard, so they are getting people through there pretty quickly," Ehret said. "The biggest problem people are having is with the Test Iowa website. They're trying to find our location because we're considered a clinic and not a full-fledged test site, so we're kind of listed on a separate page. I think that's causing a few people some problems, but for the most part, people are finding their way around."

Dickinson County Emergency Management in coordination with the Iowa Governor's Office and Lakes Regional Healthcare finalized plans on Thursday Test Iowa's location in Spirit Lake.

The drive-thru clinic opened at noon Monday, June 22, and is now open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. LRH officials say any Iowa resident will be able to receive a COVID-19 test at no cost, regardless of symptoms or potential exposure to the virus.

"For people who have no symptoms who have known or presumed exposure that will be a way for you to get tested quickly free out of pocket and increased access," Zach Borus, a physician with Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake, said.

However, he said if an individual is experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus such as fever, muscle aches, cough, headache, diarrhea, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell they should still be seen in person by a health professional.

Lakes Regional Healthcare's Respiratory Clinic can be reached at 712-336-6696 for guidance on whether it is best to receive a test at the respiratory clinic or at the Test Iowa site.

"Our expectation is that if you are having symptoms that you still call the respiratory clinic because we want to get you taken care of and get you evaluated," Borus said. "Sometimes the illness can be more significant than it feels initially. So we want to get you checked out."

In order to get a COVID-19 test through the Test Iowa clinic, the governor and local health officials encourage Iowans to:

1. Complete the online assessment at www.testiowa.com.

2. Participants will receive an email from TestIowa.com that includes a bar code at the conclusion of the online assessment. Iowans should print the bar code or take a screenshot of it.

3. Go to the drive-through Test Iowa clinic in Spirit Lake, which is located on the Dickinson County Fairgrounds just west of the Expo Building and behind the show barns. Participants should enter the fairgrounds at their west entrance off of 15th Street and follow the signs. No appointment is needed. Please wear a mask, bring the bar code and have personal identification, such as a driver's license. Be aware that healthcare staff will be dressed in appropriate personal protective equipment including a gown, gloves, mask, and face shield. This is for your protection as well as their own.

Test results will be emailed to the participant within 48 to 72 hours. The results are also available through Test Iowa's "Patient Portal." Participants should enter their personal identifier/bar code number to check their results. If the coronavirus test results are positive, the patient would receive further instructions about self-quarantine and any additional medical attention.

Dickinson County's total cases of COVID-19 were up to 212 as of Tuesday evening 188 were reported this month alone. The Iowa Department of Public Health listed 87 individuals as having recovered from the respiratory virus, and two Dickinson County residents have died due to COVID-19 so far.

"Numbers are rising," Borus said, adding he expects the trend to continue as local testing increases. "We still see a lot of folks from out of town and a lot of folks who live here who are still not following, really, many of the recommended guidelines. Our governor has taken away all legal restrictions on gathering at this point and on capacity at bars, restaurants, houses of worship, theaters, etc., so I think we're seeing a little bit of a free-for-all, which certainly concerns many of us."

Governor Reynolds on Thursday focused on an economic message, declared the state "in recovery" and said her twice-weekly televised briefings about COVID-19 would be coming to a close.

"Our ability to bring Iowa's economy back is really contingent upon how effective we can continue to mitigate, manage and contain COVID-19 over time," she said. "Iowans have proven they are willing and able to do their part and we've seen the difference that can make."

She said Iowa's positive cases "continue to trend down," but Borus is seeing a different trend in the Iowa Great Lakes.

He said most of the county's cases continue to be among the 20-40 year old population a trend most of the state is experiencing and most in that population will either show minimal symptoms or none at all.

"When those people then get their moms or dads or grandparents sick because they're in close contact, that's where things get worrisome to me, and where I think we're going to see a lot more numbers in the hospital and unfortunately a lot of people become more ill," Borus said.

Reynolds was asked if local jurisdictions should have the freedom to mandate mask-wearing as part of Thursday's COVID-19 media briefing. Dickinson County and Story County were cited as specific examples where infections were on the rise.

"We've said all along: Individuals are responsible," she responded. "I trust Iowans, I trust our businesses. They're doing the right thing to not only take care of their employees but to also take care of their customers and their clients that come in. Iowans need to decide that."

Borus said LRH has been fortunate so far that no positive cases have been reported among the inpatient population, but he said the hospital is fully capable of handling them in terms of talent, supplies and isolation rooms.

"At the same time, we have had a few people from Dickinson County, including the person who unfortunately passed away, who have gone to Sioux Falls, (South Dakota), because of their level of illness and the availability of ICU beds there," Borus said. "So, it's here, and it's just a matter of time."

The doctor urged the public to continue limiting their exposure to other people, staying at least 6 feet away from individuals whenever possible, wearing cloth face masks in public and washing hands frequently.

"My hope is that people use this as an opportunity to really think about what they're doing and perhaps not tie up with another 30 boats in Millers Bay this weekend," Borus said. "Get out there, anchor, have fun with your family or a small friend group, but please don't all come together."

In addition to Spirit Lake, the governor said new Test Iowa sites opened in Dubuque and Atlantic at the start of the current workweek.

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