DES MOINES, Iowa — On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced a public-private partnership called TestIowa, a website that aims to pinpoint coronavirus hotspots around the state and ramp up testing for the virus in these areas.
All of this is part of an effort to get the state reopened and back to "normal" in the near future.
TestIowa is one of only two sites with these capabilities nationwide. The first website was launched just a few weeks ago in Utah.
Several Utah-based companies have been at the helm of the project. Local 5 spoke with Domo, a cloud software company, as they helped create the initiative in Utah. They're also one of the companies helping to spearhead to website here in Iowa.
The following transcript has been edited for clarity.
Local 5 News: Thousands of Coronavirus tests are going to be available to Iowans very soon. It's a very important part of the initiative to get the state back open. And that's happening here and in one other place right now. Ours is called TestIowa, and there areseveral Utah companies behind this public private partnership. We are very fortunate to have Josh James, the founder of Domo joining us, one of the three companies that did the rollout in Utah. We heard from you a little bit at the governor's press conference earlier this week, we want to thank you for making time. Give us a little background and exactly what Domo is company wise, and what role do you play in this partnership?
Josh James: Great, thank you. Yeah, so we have a public company, started out my first company, took it public and sold it to Adobe. And the one thing I always wished is that I had was more data about my own company, and so I started a company to do that. We're helping about 40% of the Fortune 50 companies like Pep Boys and ESPN, and we take all the data and make it available to the executives, the frontline employees. So when coronavirus came along and said, 'Hey, we can probably do this for coronavirus as well.' And then our governor called us in Utah and said, 'I'd love to have all this information. And we, we need to get back to work. So we need to get more assessments and more testing.' And that's kind of how this all came about.
Local 5 News: So it's just one of the industries and companies adjusting to what you normally do to kind of catch up to this pandemic and help us try to get a handle on it. That's the real idea here is to try to get grasp what the current situation is. And we won't know that until we have the numbers and the data. So I did the assessment. I went online, very straightforward, very simple. I know one of the things that makes people a little nervous is when you start putting in some of the personal information, especially when it revolves around your medical information. What are some of the assurances that you can give folks that the information that they put in that assessment is going to be protected?
Josh James: Yeah, exactly, we know it's all about getting back to work. And if we want to get back to work, you know, we need to know: where are the hotspots? It's kind of like if someone told you to fly a plane without a cockpit or without the instrument panel. And this allows some of that information to come back and in terms of how that information is treated. That information is your information, and you're authorizing the state to have that information as you enter it. But that's just the state and you, and so it's all HIPAA compliant. All the information is stored encrypted, and we don't even have access to it. Because everything's encrypted. It's just the state and then, you know, it helps to understand what those hotspots are, so that then people that put up testing facilities can figure out where you need to be locked down and where you might be able to be a little bit more relaxed and start getting us back back to work.
Local 5 News: And that is the goal. I think everybody's eager and ready to get back to, you know, some sort of normalcy, whether we ever get back to exactly where we were prior to the pandemic and when remains to be seen. You've been doing this in Utah--we know the goal is to get up to 3000 tests per day...90,000 or so per month, if we can. How is it going in Utah, which was the first state to do this? We will now be the second, and what do you think that says about what we can do here in Iowa?
Josh James: You know, I mean, we, you know, Utah was the guinea pig for sure. And it's been about two and a half weeks, and we're up to about 3000 tests a day. So we feel very confident that that's going to happen in Iowa as well. You know, there might be some bumps and bruises. But, you know, there's three companies that are very, very focused on throwing as many resources as necessary at being able to do this. And, you know, not only get the test, but also the assessments. And Iowa was great, actually, they broke the record, certainly on how many people did the assessment in the first day. And so there's a lot of tracks when you think about, you know, over 100,000 people visiting that site, just within the first 24 hours relative to the population of the state. That's a pretty good sampling already to help people understand and help the governor understand where the hotspots are, and then help people understand how careful they need to be based on who has symptoms and who has tested positive.