Dubuque County public health officials continue to see slower-than-expected turnarounds for COVID-19 results from targeted testing drives.
Visiting Nurse Association Executive Director Stacey Killian said Tuesday that nurses took samples from 886 people last week during the county’s second targeted testing drive.
The sampling included people at local congregate-living facilities, as well as people identified through contact tracing of positive COVID-19 patients and law enforcement staff and essential volunteers.
The VNA had received 366 results as of 7 p.m. Tuesday. Of those, five — or 1.3% — were positive for the coronavirus.
Killian reported a slower turnaround than expected from LabCorps, the private medical company with which the state contracted to provide the collection kits and run the tests.
“We were told on average 48 to 72 hours,” she said. “I have noted it’s taking more along the lines of 96 hours.”
County Board of Health Member Diane Pape-Freiburger said a friend who works in the home health field was tested at the VNA on Thursday but had not yet received her result.
“Her employer keeps pushing, ‘When do you get your results back?’” she said.
A targeted testing drive from earlier this month took samples from more than 1,450 people in Dubuque County, focusing on staff at long-term-care facilities and people identified through contact tracing.
In both drives, the cost of the collection kits and the tests’ processing is covered by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
County Public Health Director Patrice Lambert said Tuesday that the aim is for another drive in early June, with a focus on staff of day care facilities and the children under their care. Samples also likely would be taken from some residents of long-term-care, assisted-living and residential facilities, as well as more people identified through contact tracing.
The state has not approved another drive as of Tuesday, though.
In a somewhat-related development, County Supervisor Dave Baker on Tuesday said Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office also reached out to him and Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol asking if they were interested in opening negotiations to develop a partnership to bring a Test Iowa site to Dubuque County. Baker said that both he and Buol expressed interest.
County Board of Health members on Tuesday voted, 4-2, to support such efforts. Board Chairman Tom Bechen and Board Member Suzie Stroud voted against the move, indicating they did not want to support the effort until they knew more about that “partnership.”