A Test Iowa site is shown in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in July 2020. The state is soon ending the program. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Test Iowa, the COVID-19 testing program the state has used since April 2020, will end operations on July 16, 2021, though some sites will close as soon as next week.

The initial $26 million, no-bid contract with a Utah company came about upon actor Ashton Kutcher’s recommendation to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

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The Iowa Department of Public Health announced June 16, 2021, that staggered closings of its drive-through test sites and clinic locations statewide will occur over the next five weeks.

The five state-operated drive-thru locations will close when testing concludes at 4 p.m. on the following days:

Wed., June 23: Pottawattamie County (3236 Nebraska Ave., Council Bluffs)
Thurs., June 24: Linn County (Windstar Lines, 5755 Willow Creek Dr. SW, Cedar Rapids)
Fri., June 25: Black Hawk County (4121 Alexandra Drive, Waterloo)
Fri., July 16: Polk County (4475 NE 3 rd St., Des Moines)
Fri., July 16: Scott County (North Park Mall, 320 W. Kimberly Rd., Davenport)

The department noted that demand for testing is “at its lowest levels in more than a year since vaccine is now widely available and virus activity has significantly decreased.”

According to Iowa’s coronavirus “dashboard,” more than 2.1 million Test Iowa assessments have been completed since the program began, with the majority — 39 percent — in the 18- to 40-year-old age group.

The department stated in a press release that since opening, nearly 644,000 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 at a Test Iowa site, “making it Iowa’s top testing option. Testing peaked on Nov. 23, 2020, when more than 6,700 individuals were tested on a single day. Approximately 400 total tests per day are now being conducted across all 17 drive-thru and clinic sites currently open.”

As of June 16, 2021, the state reported 6,109 Iowans have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and as of the same date, Iowa reported 83 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 22 of those in intensive care units; 13 admitted in the past 24 hours and 11 Iowans on ventilators.

In spite of widespread vaccination among older Iowans, three outbreaks continued at nursing homes in the state; a total of 2,371 deaths have been tied to those outbreaks.

The Iowa Department of Public Health and State Hygienic Lab are finalizing plans to provide at-home test kits free of charge to Iowa residents following the closure of the Test Iowa program. Additionally, the department noted COVID-19 testing will continue to be provided by health care providers, pharmacies, and other retail testing sites statewide. Test Iowa is a public-private partnership between the State of Iowa, Nomi Health, Domo and Qualtrics that provided access to 540,000 PCR test kits plus the equipment and technology to automate the testing process.

Iowa is lagging behind other states and the nation as a whole in vaccinations, with just 1.4 million residents fully vaccinated out of a population of nearly 3.2 million.

Nationally, approximately 44 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported nearly 600,000 Americans — 597,965 — have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, though experts say that number is likely higher.

More: Iowa hits grim COVID-19 milestone