‘This is a potential public health disaster:’

COVID-19 results from TestUtah.com are raising questions

(The above 2 lines together make up a headline from Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune)

If the name “TestUtah” seems to ring a bell that may be because Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, was so impressed with them that she gave them a $26 million no bid contract. That was on the strength of a recommendation by that eminent Iowan Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher’s background in medicine is a bit sketchy.

It was a revealing moment in the Governor’s press conference Thursday when she admitted that she had just heard of an article listing problems with TestUtah.com. Considering that she had previously issued a no-bid contract with them without verification. It was also revealing

In this clip Reynolds is asked about the validation process. We find out that Iowa is doing a validation process as is Utah at this same time. (Starts at 15:30 ends at 18:25)

Later in the same video (start at 24:30) Reynolds is asked about an article detailing problems uncovered by reporters at the Salt Lake Tribune. Reynolds admits she has just heard about the story.

Our Governor signed a no-bid contract and based the first phase of her ‘reopening’ of Iowa on tests that had not been validated? What could possibly go wrong you might ask?

I am not sure if this is the specific article in the Salt Lake Tribune but it covers the subject in question: 

The accuracy of coronavirus tests by TestUtah.com has come into question, with state data showing that the rate of positive results among people tested at its sites is less than half what it is for patients tested elsewhere in the state.

And medical experts have been raising concerns about the effort, which has funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to the Utah tech companies running it here and in two other states. While Utah’s larger health care systems have relied on national names in diagnostics for their coronavirus tests, TestUtah has obtained its tests from a smaller Salt Lake City company and is processing them at a regional hospital in Orem.

“I worry about having tests routed to a small community hospital lab inexperienced with highly complex molecular testing that uses a test from an unknown company without much in vitro diagnostic experience,” Bert Lopansri, a specialist in infectious diseases and microbiology at Intermountain Healthcare, wrote in an April 14 email that The Salt Lake Tribune obtained through an open records request after it circulated through state offices.

“A pandemic is not the time for amateurs to learn,” Lopansri concluded.”

There is much, much more at the link.

Later in the article, the Director of the Infectious Disease Department at the University of Iowa’s Department of Internal Medicine noting that the limit of detection (amount of virus particles needed to register positive) is higher than the CDC’s test, Dr. Dan Diekema said:

“Based upon concerns I’ve heard from others re: test performance, it would be irresponsible to move forward without evaluating their test using sample exchange [with] Iowa’s State Lab. Or do all tests at [the state health lab],” Diekema said on Twitter. Diekema declined to comment further.”

As of yesterday 3/4ths of Iowa’s counties are “open.” Farmers Markets are back and malls can reopen, as can houses of worship apparently on the testing regimen that was not validated and is questionable.

Feels like you are in a game of Russian roulette, but you don’t have control of the gun.

And I keep thinking what if Fred Hubbell were governor…….? Elections have real life consequences.

What is really strange in all this is that Reynolds has made a series of decisions that include forcing people to choose between going back to work or losing unemployment benefits. But then she says the choice(?) is yours. Also, even though the state is putting its weight behind reopening, if you go to a place of business and get sick, that is on you.

Take care of yourselves, Iowans, and be sure to vote – by mail – to get some true problem solvers who will listen to scientists in positions of power.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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