Tim Richmond, the county’s emergency management director, speaks during Monday’s announcement that Test Iowa will open a COVID-19 test site in Ottumwa this week.

OTTUMWA — Test Iowa, the state’s effort to expand COVID-19 testing, will arrive in Ottumwa this week.

The effort revolves around drive-through testing sites and has been involved in a significant increase in testing for the virus over the past several weeks. The site will begin tests on Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday.

Mayor Tom Lazio said the site at The Beach will begin setup on Tuesday afternoon and testing will take place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. “We really think this is a major opportunity for the community,” he said.

Wapello County Emergency Management Director Tim Richmond said testing will be done only for people who complete the online screening at testiowa.com. That has been the practice at previous mass testing sites as well.

“You cannot just walk up to the test site and get a test,” he said. “The key to access is the Test Iowa site.”

The site screens people according to risk factors, exposure and whether they work at critical infrastructure like meat processing facilities. People who take the assessment receive confirmation of whether they should be tested by email. Those who are advised to be tested should print out the email, since a bar code on it tracks the test. Results are sent by email as well.

There is no cost for the test, which is a nasal swab. People will not be allowed out of their cars at the site.

Some details are still being worked out. The testing may require traffic restrictions on Church Street. Access will be guided by the Iowa Department of Transportation, Richmond said, with assistance from the Ottumwa Police Department and Wapello County Sheriff’s Office.

While other cities have seen major outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants and there have been public concerns about such an outbreak at JBS, both Lazio and Richmond said the initiative is not linked to any specific businesses in Ottumwa.

“This is not related to any one business in particular,” Lazio said.

Iowa had 12,373 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday, and the Iowa Department of Public Health said 259 of those were in Wapello County. Local figures will be updated later in the day.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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