Looking to take extra COVID-19 precautions before heading into the holiday weekend?
Testing sites and home test kits are available across Iowa for those wanting to take safety measures ahead of planned Fourth of July celebrations and gatherings.
The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Iowa rose slightly while hospitalizations declined over the past week — though both have remained generally unchanged, according to data released Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This week, the state health department reported 3,988 new cases of COVID-19 in Iowa — an average of 570 per day and nearly identical numbers to the previous week.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa dropped to 162 from 184 last week. That's the lowest it's been since late May, but it's still closer to the higher numbers of hospitalizations reported in June than the lower numbers reported earlier in the spring.
Types of COVID tests
There are two primary types of COVID tests: PCR tests, which search for the genetic material of the coronavirus, must be analyzed in a lab and take longer to report results; and rapid antigen tests, which look for protein fragments from the coronavirus and produce quicker results but are generally considered less reliable.
Some stores offer take-home versions of both PCR and antigen tests. Over-the-counter home PCR tests may cost $100 or more, while antigen tests are available for prices between $10 and $40.
Users should check whether their health insurance plans cover the cost of over-the-counter tests. Health insurers are required to offer reimbursement under a plan from President Joe Biden.
Where can I buy a COVID-19 self-test?
Test Iowa offers free, take-home test kits where Iowans collect their own saliva and mail it to the state lab at the University of Iowa for analysis.
The state-run program no longer offers drive-thru testing after switching to the take-home test kit model last summer.
Iowans can visit one of more than 100 locations around the state to pick up a test kit, or request one online.
The sample can be returned to the nearest UPS drop-off location using a prepaid UPS label included with the test kit, according to Test Iowa's website. Some pickup locations, such as the Polk County Health Department, also serve as drop-off locations.
For those ordering mail-in kits, the process potentially takes several days. An order could take up to a week to get to people requesting it by mail, according to Test Iowa's frequently asked questions page.
But results should be available within 24 hours of the laboratory receiving the test, according to the site.
Centers for Disease Control home test kits
Households in the U.S. are eligible for two orders of four free at-home tests. The test kits ship for free via the United States Postal Service.
Visit special.usps.com/testkits or call 1-800-232-0233 to learn more.
Pharmacies and department stores
Test kits can also be purchased for a cost over the counter at some pharmacies and department stores, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Target.
Pharmacies: Testing at Hy-Vee, Walgreens and CVS
Hy-Vee offers drive-thru rapid PCR and antigen tests at some of its pharmacies. Patients must register ahead of time to get a test voucher and set an appointment time.
Rapid PCR tests at Hy-Vee are free. They produce results in as fast as 30 minutes, up to one day. Antigen tests vary in cost and results are available within one to two hours. This test is only available for patients who have COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been exposed within the last 14 days.
Visit Hy-Vee’s website to look up your nearest test location.
CVS offers rapid antigen and PCR tests. Appointments must be scheduled in advance on the CVS website. The test should be covered by insurance. Lab testing costs $139 if not covered by insurance, according to the CVS website.
Visit CVS's website to look up your nearest test location.
Walgreens offers drive-thru rapid antigen and PCR tests at some of its locations. Patients must sign up for an appointment in advance. Lab testing costs $129 if not covered by insurance, according to the Walgreens website.
Visit Walgreens' website to look up your nearest test location.
COVID-19 testing at Iowa hospitals and clinics
Hospitals and clinics throughout Iowa provide testing for a cost. Some require appointments and referrals. Contact your primary care provider or your local hospital or clinic for more information on what types of tests are available and what, if anything, is required ahead of time to obtain a test.
Here are a few testing sites in the Des Moines metro:
DoctorsNow walk-in clinic has PCR and antigen tests and accepts insurance. Patients can make an appointment or drop by from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Altoona: 3770 Eighth St. SW, Suite B,
Johnston: 8779 Northpark Drive
West Des Moines: 640 S. 50th St., #1100
Exemplar Care, a 24-hour urgent care clinic, offers PCR and rapid antigen tests at two clinics. PCR tests cost $90 and antigen tests cost $65. The clinic is not accepting insurance. Tests are cash-pay prices, according to the Exemplar Care website.
West Des Moines: 300 Westown Parkway Suite 330. Open for 24-hour testing
Des Moines International Airport, open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Only ticketed passengers within 72 hours of travel are eligible to be tested onsite at the airport)
GS Labs, a COVID-19 testing company, offers rapid PCR and antigen testing in West Des Moines. If not covered by insurance, patients must pay $229 for a PCR test and $179 for a rapid antigen test. Patients can book online in advance. The clinic is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
West Des Moines: 6805 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 110
Des Moines Register reporters Tim Webber and Stephen Gruber-Miller contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Where to find COVID tests in the Des Moines area before July 4th