As cases rise, Kansas City area health departments seeing rise in demand for COVID-19 tests

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LENEXA, Kan. – Several health departments and companies across the Kansas City metro are seeing a higher demand for COVID-19 tests.

Clinical Reference Laboratory is tracking three times the number of tests they saw in June.

They have a take-home test to you can buy and get the results back in 24-48 hours.

Dr. Heather Fehling believes the Delta variant is driving the increase.

“We’re seeing about 98% of our cases come back as the Delta variant,” Fehling said. “So, these samples do tend to have higher viral loads, increase transmissibility compared to what we were seeing previously. Hence, the increase.”

More cases equals more testing.

“Demand has dramatically increased,” Jackson County Health Department Communications Coordinator Mariah Cox said.

Cox said they offer COVID-19 testing twice a week in Lee’s Summit. The Kansas City Health Department covers testing the other three weekdays.

Last month, Jackson County sites only saw 30-40 people a week. That number has now increased to nearly 400.

Cox said it all puts a strain on the health departments.

They’re doing test, vaccination clinics, contact tracing and back to school shots.

“Once back to school immunization clinics are over, we will add additional testing clinics,” Cox said.

Johnson County is seeing a rapid increase in testing, according to Health Services Division Director Stacie Province.

They’ve gone from one testing clinic a week to three, and the number of people tested in a day has more than tripled.

“It is good people are getting tested,” Province said. “Even individuals that have been vaccinated if they’re symptomatic we do recommend testing.”

The Kansas City Health Department said access to testing is once again a problem.

There are fewer testing stites, as health clinics and pharmacies shifted to vaccine clinics.

CVS said COVID-19 home test kits are the top-selling items in their stores.

They’ve seen an increase in rapid PCR testing and say they’re capable of keeping up with demand.

With the increase in cases, Province said it’s a challenge for health departments across the metro to keep up with contact tracing.

“So, we are prioritizing children 12 and under, who are at greater risk since they are unable to get vaccinated. And also, those school aged kiddos under age 18,” Province said. “Just to make sure that we are catching any cases in those schools and daycares and appropriately contact tracing those cases.”

Children’s Mercy launched a new page on their website for people to schedule times to get tested for COVID-19. They are no longer accepting walk-ins.

Families can schedule and select a location here.

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