With COVID-19 cases rising, local experts say KC metro’s flirting with a second surge

Tracking Coronavirus
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PECULIAR, Mo. — Local health departments are keeping a close eye on what COVID-19 is doing in the metro.

Free testing on both sides of the state line took place Friday for anyone, regardless of whether or not people were showing symptoms.

“Everything’s opening up,” said Johnson County Health Services Director Nancy Tausz. “People are closer together. They’re out and about, so we’re just watching. That that’s why we continue to test.”

After a short decline in COVID-19 cases during the lockdown, the virus is again on the rise because of more people moving around and more testing.

“It makes me a little nervous,” Janice Katz said.

She and her husband Stephen are symptom-free and are taking advantage of the free testing. The couple is pretty much still sticking to staying home unless they have to go out because they don’t think it’s safe.

“I think it’s necessary that things reopen,” Stephen Katz said. “I wish that more people would do just a little bit, even if they’re wrong about masks for example, to contribute to the cause of preventing spread.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Cass County Health Director Andrew Warlen.

“I mean, we’ve all seen those stories, pictures of the bar where people have gone back to pre-mid-March levels of hanging out and being close to each other,” Warlen said.

Just as Johnson County continues testing, Warlen is overseeing similar testing on the other side of the state line. He, too, is trying to control an uptick in cases.

“How much of that has to do with increased testing? We don’t know for sure,” Warlen said.

For the first time in Missouri, the state health department has commissioned the military to be involved in medical testing for this global pandemic.

“We’re here for duty. We’re here to do our part to help trace this virus and do our part to get the data to the health professionals,” said Andrew Rodenberg with the Missouri National Guard.

The Missouri National Guard’s mission is to test people across the State for COVID-19. Its medics are the ones administering the tests.

Both Kansas and Missouri have seen cases coming from large gatherings like the one in the Ozarks, protests across the metro and places of worship. Nursing homes and businesses where people work close together are also still a concern.

“The risk is higher than it was a few weeks ago,” Johnson County Health Director Dr. Sanmi Areola said. “The only way to avoid things getting worse is if we keep doing the things that we are talking about.”

Areola and other heath experts believe we’re flirting with a dangerous surge, so social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and other safety precautions are more important now than ever.

“I like our chances of keeping transmission of the virus under control,” Areola said. “If we don’t, with increased activity, it doesn’t take much for our capacity to to be overwhelmed.”

The Missouri Army National guard has 10 more stops before its mission is complete.

  • Sunday, June 14 – Warrensburg, Johnson County Fairgrounds
  • Monday, June 15 – Sedalia, State Fairgrounds
  • Tuesday, Juen 16 – Higginsville High School; and Richmond, Ray County Fairgrounds
  • Wednesday, June 17 – Carrollton, Rupe Center; and Chariton County, Keytesville High School
  • Friday, June 19 – Lewiston, Lewis County Fairgrounds; and California, 1st Baptist Church
  • Saturday, June 20 – Memphis, Scotland County Fairgrounds; and California, 1st Baptist Church

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