JOHNSTON, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday announced the state will change the way it reports positive COVID-19 cases on its website so that information will be tracked in "real time."
Reynolds said the state is changing the time frame for making new data available. Instead of reporting daily changes around the same time mid-morning reflecting a 24-hour period of data collection, state officials will update the coronavirus website throughout the day.
"Because we're now moving to rolling out in real time, the need to provide new daily in case counts is obsolete," Reynolds said. “You'll be able to see exactly where the numbers stand whenever you decide to check the website."
The governor touted Iowa data's A+ grade from The COVID Tracking Project by The Atlantic, which tracks state-by-state data and is used by Johns Hopkins and the White House. The state is also now offering data on antibody testing and information on the symptomatic cases versus Iowans who tested positive without showing symptoms.
“I believe the transparency of providing it to you in real time makes the information even more valuable and relevant," Reynolds said.
The website updated Monday afternoon and already changed to reflect more cases and deaths than previously reported Monday morning. As of this writing, there are 15,082 positive cases and 364 Iowans confirmed dead because of COVID-19.
Randy Evans, a government transparency advocate, commends the governor for sharing more data in real time, but expresses concern over not releasing day-by-day totals.
“There is more data available, but it’s perhaps not as readily useful to the public," said Evans,the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. " I don’t think anyone would criticize the governor for making the data available more often, I think it would be much more helpful if this was not an 'either or.'”
One key data point that isn't offered on the revamped website: results from the state's $26 million "Test Iowa" initiative, which has experienced some hiccups since its launch.
CBS2/Fox28 statehouse reporter Caroline Cummings has directly asked the governor about releasing this information and has followed up with state officials. Reynolds and others have so far refused to release that information. Instead, Test Iowa results are reported en masse with all other state testing.
"The refusal to provide the number of tests that are being administered is secrecy for no good reason," Evans said.
The state coronavirus website details the information about the Test Iowa assessments, but not the actual tests or results of those tests.