(Des Moines) -- Iowa officials are changing the way recovery numbers from COVID-19 are calculated.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced this week that the changes will save public health workers time in tracing potential exposures from a positive case and will more accurately reflect the number of recovered individuals in the state. Currently, Reynolds says public health officials attempt to contact every positive case in the state.
"In the state of Iowa, public health officials attempt to contact every single Iowan who tests positive for COVID-19," said Reynolds. "That's how we start to conduct the case investigation and contact tracing. Then, approximately 10 days later, the case investigation team reaches out again to confirm whether the individuals have fully recovered. This is how we've been collecting the recovery data."
Reynolds says that policy meant a lot of time wasted making phone calls.
"A lot of the calls go unanswered or unreturned on the follow-up calls," said Reynolds. "They are not counted in the number of Iowans recovered. So, it's not really representing the accurate number of Iowans who have recovered."
The new policy implemented this week would count a person as recovered 28 days after their positive test, as long as the state does not get information that the person is hospitalized, still ill or has died.
"This time frame equates to two incubation periods and it aligns with our process to remove long-term care facilities from outbreak status and processes that are followed similar to what other states are doing," said Reynolds.
Since implementing the new policy, Reynolds says the percentage of recovered patients went from 60% to nearly 80%.
“We believe that this change more accurately reflects the number of Iowans recovered and will allow our case investigation team to have more time to assist Iowans who are newly diagnosed," said Reynolds.
As of Wednesday morning, Iowa reported 29,290 total positive cases with 23,447 recovered. The state reports 717 total deaths related to COVID-19.