“There are not barriers to schools testing for COVID in the Iowa Code.”
-- Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott
Thank ALL OF YOU - for your questions, information, and sharing your rightous frustrations with me. As a token of my gratitude enjoy this photo of my cat:
OKAY - I am an investigative reporter. I know a lot about federal programs and systems as I have been working in this area re: oversight, bureaucracy, accountablity, etc. This goes back over a decade. First investigation HIV/AIDS funding through PEPFAR throughout the world, then funding to NGOs with dubious ethics, to programs right there in Iowa that funned $$ to anti-gay groups (Ahem rhymes with FlanderFlatts).
All of this to say - I know way too much about these programs to be dangerous - but I am not a doctor or a lawyer. But I am absolutely thorough in my research when it comes to federal programs. And I have spoken on three occassions and emailed the contact at the US HHS program Tested and Protected administered through the Midwest Coordination Center (MCC) and gone through scenarios that the state could try to throw in your way to accessing this program. Senator Trone Garriott has also advised me on possible statutory issues. I have also spoken to school administrators and infectious disease experts familiar with this program. So. Here goes.
There are no roadblocks. This is an email I recieved from MCC Iowa liaison after I laid out a laundry list of concerns about state law, IDPH, IDE policies, etc.
He advised the only statutory issue w/Iowa re: COVID19 mitigation is the mask mandate law. There is no law re: testing, quarantine, etc. All of that is policy. Schools can test, quarantine, etc.
Senator Sarah Trone-Garriott has been working on finding out what the barriers are to schools who want to offer testing. This morning she shared the following (after her conversations with lawmakers, schools, etc.)
“Any barriers to testing are in policy—and in how that policy is implemented and communicated. There are not barriers to schools testing for covid in the Iowa Code.”
- Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott
So you want to test?
FIRST — about that whole Test Iowa nonsense:
Iowa Department of Education is keeping schools from picking up tests from the Test Iowa pick up locations.
I was advised by a pick up location (a rural pharmacy) that an email went out to all Test Iowa pick up locations stating: “…if a school wants to pick up tests for the district/class the pharmacy/pickup locations are told to redirect school representative to the Iowa Department of Education.”
If this happens the suggestion is:
Kindly inform pick up location (they are probably as in the dark/being misled as the rest of us) that althought that may be IDE policy, it isn’t a law. Therefore the location is free to hand over all the tests you need.
Tested and Protected program (MCC):
Some school administrators are facing very real pressure from the IDE/Reynolds administration to not test - or do anything - to mitigate Delta COVID19 - others just don’t care. But - there are those who just don’t have all the information and understandably feel they cannot take on one more thing. But it is much easier than it sounds. It really is.
Tested and Protected progam — more information — It’s not for just schools.
Program designed to test people already within these settings, not opening up your facility to anyone - just to provide the people you serve already a testing opportunity.
As I have mentioned before:
Here is the website - Tested and Protected via the Midwest Coordination Center (I made a special button there):
This is the Midwest Coordination Center contact
Nonye Williams, MBA, MPH
State Liaison – Iowa - Office: 614-424-4180
A few things to note:
These aren't the deep nasal swabs - they are lower nasal swabs so not painful and training for correct use can be completed by anyone who takes the required webinar based training program offered through Tested and Protected Midwest Coordination Center.
If rural locations don't have access to courier service the program provides free Fed Ex pick-up
If there is a positive test within the testing pool the program will immediately notify the facility AND conduct follow up testing immediately.
If for some reason a facility cannot dedicate a computer or have capacity to scan sample vial barcodes this program will provide a laptop computer to the facility for use during the program.
Tested and Protected has doctors who can write blanket prescriptions for any facilities in the state of Iowa that require them if no in-state physician can/will.
This is absolutely possible given it is a federal program so that shouldn't preclude anyone from accessing testing.
Test results are stripped of any personal information and reported to the CDC - as is the way with any/all testing programs or tests through your own doctor.
If anyone runs into problems please let me know - same if you begin implementation - please let me know. The MCC program claims to be easy, free, etc. And if your organization uses it - and they aren’t all they cracked up to be? — Then we can let them know!
And yes I do have a Venmo: @andykopsa started it when I kicked off my podcast - second season is taking shape and will no doubt be all about Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.