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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

State says it is no longer providing routine testing for long-term care facilities

Recent White House recommendations said more needed to be done to protect nursing homes, but now the state says it no longer has those resources.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) says they will no longer provide routine testing and test processing for long-term care facilities. 

IDPH and the State Hygienic Lab (SHL) will continue to conduct testing in facilities where residents or staff become symptomatic, or when cases are identified, according to a letter from the agency.

But the state says that the volume and frequency generated by routine testing and the testing already happening across the state "will exceed the current capacity," the Sept. 16 letter reads.

The governor's office says that "federal guidelines requiring routine testing of staff could generate more than 130,000 tests per week in addition to the significant testing that’s already underway."

WATCH: Gov. Kim Reynolds' full press conference for Sept. 16, 2020

"The increase will exceed SHL’s capacity and is why the state will need to rely on incoming federal support," spokesperson Pat Garrett said in a statement.

"As the letter noted, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intends to supply rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostic testing supplies and equipment to long-term care facilities in Iowa."

The IDPH letter notes that if long-term care facilities are unable to meet Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services testing requirements due to supply shortages, lab availability or other reasons, the facility must document their attempts to perform testing. 

In the latest White House report, the task force recommends Iowa provide routine staff testing for nursing homes as community transmission was a contributing factor to outbreaks at those homes. 

The full letter from IDPH can be seen below: 

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