Metro health official ramping up testing methods as COVID-19 cases rise across Midwest

Tracking Coronavirus

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The ongoing COVID-19 concern has swollen to a higher level, as the Midwest’s infection rates climb above those of New York City at their peak, according to the CDC.

That has public health officials in the Kansas City metro ramping up their testing methods, in many cases, using sophisticated methods that deliver coronavirus test results more quickly.

On Wednesday morning, infectious disease experts at the University of Kansas Health System said big changes will be required before the curve related to positive testing trends will improve.

Quicker results from drive-through testing sites could lead to more informative results, according to Christina Heinen, acting health director for the City of Independence.

During the next seven weeks, Heinen and her team plan to test 7,000 people in the Cable Dahmer Arena parking lot, using saliva-based testing kits. The free tests are open only to adults, and they take only 10-15 minutes to complete. Heinen said results come back in 24-48 hours.

“Depending on which study you look at, saliva-based testing is anywhere from 92 to 99 percent effective in its accuracy,” Heinen said. “Our percent positivity in some counties in the state of Missouri is at 70 percent right now. We desperately need testing in order to identify those cases and try to get control of the situation.”

Testing at the arena parking lot is planned every weekday and every Saturday for the next seven weeks. Heinen said there are also Sunday visits planned at several churches in the Independence area too. Most of those testing opportunities require an appointment, which can be made via the City of Independence website.

National retailer CVS is also boosting its testing efforts at five of their Kansas City metro locations, and soon, at a thousand additional stores across the nation. CVS Health spokesperson Ashlee Slocum said her company’s rapid-response test results, the product of a testing swab used in a patient’s nose, produce a positive or negative result within 30 minutes.

“That will enable us to minimize the spread,” Slocum said. “By adding the ability to have the rapid result testing now, that allows us to help minimize that community spread.”

Rapid-result testing is already available at these metro locations:

  • 4990 Northeast Vivion Road, Kansas City, MO
  • 11729 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS
  • 13502 W 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa, KS
  • 1901 West Kansas Street, Liberty, MO
  • 3351 SW 3rd Street, Lees Summit, MO

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