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State to reduce COVID-19 reporting to less-frequent updates

State to reduce COVID-19 reporting to less-frequent updates

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State to reduce COVID-19 reporting to less-frequent updates

State public health plans to decommission state coronavirus website ‘by late summer’

This change and other adjustments to the reporting process will be implemented in the weeks ahead of the state’s plan to transition COVID-19 reporting to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website and decommission Iowa’s public-facing coronavirus website, coronavirus.iowa.gov, by late summer.

State officials had been providing updates numerous times a day on the coronavirus website, detailing positive cases, hospitalizations, long-term care facility outbreaks, deaths and other key metrics to measure the course of the pandemic in Iowa.

Beginning July 7, state public health officials will update COVID-19 data on its site once a week on Wednesdays, according to a memo sent to local public health departments.

Data on long-term outbreaks, serology, occupation data, underlying health conditions and Test Iowa assessments will be removed from the live website.

Pages on positive case analysis, deaths, hospitalizations as well as vaccine administration and allocation will remain on the site.

Once coronavirus.iowa.gov is decommissioned later this summer, COVID-19 reporting will transition to a format similar to the state public health department’s weekly influenza report, state officials say.

The announcement comes after public health officials announced plans to cease operations of Test Iowa, the free, statewide testing program, by July 16. Linn County’s drive-through site closed June 24.

In addition to changes of its public-facing COVID-19 website, Iowa’s public health department will end routine COVID-19 case investigations for all positive reports starting July 1. Instead, the state will focus case investigation on outbreaks and vulnerable settings, including long-term care facilities.

Positive and negative test results, as well as demographics and county of residence, will continue to be reported, according to the memo. In addition, the state will continue to require reporting on long-term care facility outbreaks and will monitor reports and virus activity and “follow-up to investigate clusters when needed.”

Iowa’s decision comes after federal officials and several states reduced their reporting frequency, public health officials said in the memo.

It also comes as a more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread across the nation, prompting some public health officials to issue new guidelines recommending individuals wear masks in public indoor spaces, even if they are vaccinated.

This variant was detected for the first time in Iowa in early May. The strain was discovered in two adults living in Jefferson County.

“Should it be necessary, we stand ready to reinstate operations to meet the needs of Iowans,” state public health officials said in the memo.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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