The United States continues to struggle with what many have referred to as a “patchwork pandemic” of COVID-19; different regions of the country suffered severe outbreaks during the spring and early summer, while other areas had no cases at all. In the later summer months and early fall, some states (particularly in the Midwest) have seen a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases–and many smaller towns in Missouri, like Springfield, Farmington, and Cape Girardeau, have been hit disproportionately hard

Though Kansas City has not been overwhelmed with cases at this point, there have been a number of “clusters” related to bars and restaurants. The number of hospitalized patients in the KC metro area is continuing to increase. And as schools navigate ways to continue education while minimizing risk to students, teachers, and staff, we can expect that we will see some increase in local COVID-19 cases. 


COVID-19 Numbers

  • Are cases rising?  Are they plateauing? Going down? 


Testing for COVID-19

  • What, exactly, are we testing when we “test” for COVID-19?
    • There are two kinds of testing methods widely available and a couple that should be ready for primetime soon:
      • Molecular (PCR) testing: this test diagnoses active, current COVID-19 infection is accomplished by taking a nasopharyngeal swab through the opening of the nose or a nasopharyngeal aspirate (like a Neti pot or nasal saline rinse).  The sample is then sent to a lab to amplify and duplicate the virus’s nucleic acid sequence (its RNA) — if it’s present. A newer “self-swab” allows you to just swab right inside each of your nostrils and is available at some testing sites. Governor Parsons announced on September 30th that Kansas City will be receiving one of the four saliva-based COVID-19 test machines allocated to Missouri, but it is not clear when this will be up and running or who will be eligible for this testing.
      • Antibody (IgG/IgM) testing: the test we’re currently using checks only for the IgG antibody, which turns positive approximately 10-14 days after a person is infected.  It is collected via blood sample and we’re using it to diagnose prior infections with COVID-19.
      • Antigen testing: the newest form of testing that is still ramping up.  This test looks for protein elements of the viral molecule (as opposed to the nucleic acid components as with the PCR testing) and will be used for diagnosing active, current cases of COVID-19 once it’s up and running.


Finding COVID-19 Testing

  • Where can I be tested?
    • At KCDPC: we have the ability to do both PCR and Antibody testing here at the clinic (see above for the difference between the two). 
      • The molecular PCR (nasopharyngeal swab) testing that diagnoses active, current infection is $75 for the visit here at KCDPC; there is an additional cost incurred by the lab vendor that you can use your insurance to cover.  Anyone interested in getting tested must fill out this questionnaire; you’ll be able to schedule your visit and pay for the visit fee after filling this out.  
      • Antibody (IgG, blood draw) testing that diagnoses past infection can be done at least 14 days beyond the resolution of symptoms; there is an additional cost incurred by the lab vendor that you can use your insurance to cover.  
      • We believe (don’t know) that those who don’t have insurance will not be billed for these tests by the lab vendor.  
    • The state/local health departments are ramping up their ability to test (usually at no cost!) and but have some stipulations regarding who can be tested (i.e. symptoms, healthcare workers, exposures, etc.)
    • Different commercial entities are offering testing (cost will vary; check with them directly): 
      • Google Maps has a relatively up-to-date listing if you put “COVID-19 testing Kansas City” into their search engine.
      • Walmart is sending people to or depending on location.
      • CVS
      • Walgreens (some pharmacy drive-throughs)
      • HyVee pharmacy
      • Heart to Heart International (locations vary by day–free testing for “essential” workers as described on their website)
      • Numerous urgent care facilities, including CareNow Urgent Care–their website says they are offering COVID-19 antibody testing as well–and MinuteClinic (some urgent care facilities may charge a visit fee as well, so be sure to call and ask!)


COVID-19 Treatment

On the COVID-19 treatment front, we have been making rapid progress (though it may not feel that way!), and antivirals, such as remdesivir, and steroid treatments, like dexamethasone, seem to be improving the chances that patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 are able to avoid ventilation and be discharged from the hospital sooner. 

Though we are all looking forward to a vaccine against COVID-19, the likelihood of a widely-available vaccine that reduces that risk of contracting COVID-19 is probably quite a ways off. I’m reluctant to give a more specific timeline, as the press coverage and definition of a “widely-available vaccine” changes almost daily. 

The basics remain the same: our best tool is prevention of COVID-19 infection by wearing masks, social distancing, meticulous hand-washing, avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and choosing not to congregate in enclosed, poorly-ventilated spaces. This will become especially important as we move into the colder months and more activities take place indoors.


CDC Updates

As of October 5th, 2020, the CDC has updated their guidance to reflect “some risk” of COVID-19 spread over distances further than 6 feet, especially in poorly-ventilated indoor areas, where people may be engaged in activities such as “singing and exercise.” The highest risk of contracting COVID-19 is still believed to be due to respiratory droplets, and is increased with spending more unprotected time nearby (within 6 feet of) an infected individual. We have all learned that people can contract COVID-19 and transmit the infection on to others, even if their symptoms are only mild or even nonexistent.

The only way to prevent an overwhelming surge in COVID-19 cases in Kansas City is a consistent, relentless, community-wide effort to protect ourselves and each other. We know that it’s tough — believe me, all of us our “over it!” — but as many epidemiologists have noted, the virus sets the timeline. For now, COVID-19 precautions are as important as ever.


Halloween is right around the corner. Like most events of 2020, this year’s celebrations will necessarily look different than they have in the past. The Kansas and Missouri Departments of Health (along with most other states) recommend against haunted houses, costume parties, and door-to-door trick-or-treating–even “trunk-or-treating” is being discouraged. However, there are many alternative ways to have a fun-filled, spooky holiday, while minimizing the COVID-19 risk. Many neighborhoods and towns in the KC metro area are organizing costume contests, scavenger hunts, drive-in movies, and even cleverly re-imagined “no-contact reverse trick-or-treating” so that the kid in all of us can enjoy a bit of fun this fall. Check out what is available in your neck of the woods!

Influenza Season

Now that we are into October, “flu season” has officially started as well. Flu vaccines are safe and readily available, and they are recommended by the CDC for almost everyone 6 months of age and older.  We have them at the ready for members for $30 — give us a call at 913-730-0331 or to schedule a time to come by and get your vaccine! 

Influenza can also cause severe and deadly disease, placing us in danger of a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and influenza this fall and winter. 

Many misconceptions exist about the flu vaccine that have prevented people from getting an annual flu vaccine before. I would urge you to make sure that you and your loved ones get vaccinated against the flu this year.  Even if you feel that your risk of getting seriously ill from the flu is quite low, vaccinating will help prevent the potential spread of influenza in the community. Much like wearing a mask, getting your flu vaccine will help keep your family, friends, and community safe as well.


Wash your hands. Wear your mask. We are here if you need us.


Yours in good health,


Christi Crumpecker, MD

Kansas City Direct Primary Care