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Tip From Ashton Kutcher Led to Iowa's New COVID Tests

He connected governor with company involved in 'Test Utah' program
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2020 5:16 AM CDT
Updated Apr 24, 2020 6:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says the state's new coronavirus testing initiative has an "Iowa touch." It also has a Hollywood touch. Reynolds said Thursday that the new program, modeled on the "Test Utah" program, is the result of a tip from actor Ashton Kutcher, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, KGAN reports. "He knew one of the individuals that had been working on that or that was a friend of his ... and so he said 'if you'd like, I'd be happy to connect the two of you," Reynolds said. She said her team looked into the program, liked what they saw, and hired the Utah-based companies to run Iowa's program. She says the team was able to "ramp it up pretty quickly" after speaking to the Utah governor's office.

The new $26 million testing program directs people to an online assessment at testiowa.com to determine whether they should go to a drive-through testing center. The state plans to increase testing capacity to 3,000 a day and will also step up contact tracing. Kutcher said in a statement that he is friends with a leader of Qualtrics, one of the companies involved, the Des Moines Register reports. "Governor Reynolds jumped at the chance and moved fast to implement," Kutcher said. "When the federal government is playing Hunger Games with the states during a pandemic, we have to get creative. My family is in Iowa. My friends are in Iowa. I am and will always be an Iowan. My first order of duty is to protect my family." (Read more Ashton Kutcher stories.)

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