As of April 1, Iowa’s state health department is no longer requiring public health laboratories to report positive COVID-19 test results—and no longer reporting statewide data to the CDC. This decision, announced in late February, is part of a growing trend away from relying on case data as people use at-home tests instead of PCR tests.
Iowa’s health department “will continue to review and analyze COVID-19 and other health data from several sources,” including hospitalization metrics and syndromic surveillance, according to the agency. It’s essentially treating COVID-19 similarly to the flu and other common respiratory viruses.
As a result of this change, Iowa is now no longer reporting COVID-19 case data to the CDC, the national agency said in this week’s data update. National, regional, state, and county-level CDC data exclude the state of Iowa, starting on April 1.
This move seems like a natural extension of the state health reporting changes that we’ve seen across the country since last spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if more state health departments similarly stop reporting every COVID-19 case when the federal health emergency ends in May. Unfortuantely, this will become another driver of increasingly-less-reliable COVID-19 data in the U.S.