KC restaurant workers, people between 25-50 focus of free COVID-19 testing event

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Posted at 7:03 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 08:04:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As of Sunday night, 400 spots remained open for a free COVID-19 testing event taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Kansas City Health Department said it needs to fill the remaining 400 spots through online registration.

“Right now we want to make sure Kansas City remains open. So with masking and testing and keep those who remain sick at home, that’s going to keep our COVID cases down,” explained Bill Snook, a spokesperson for the health department.

The state gave the health department 2,000 tests. The department gave restaurant employees the first chance to enroll for three reasons: restaurant work is social by nature, some staff members don’t have health insurance being part-time employees and many restaurant employees are between the ages of 25 and 50.

Snook said the 25-49 age range has the most positive cases in Kansas City. Leaders are interested in stopping the spread of the virus among that age group and say testing is a part of the strategy.

The chef and owner of Room 39, Ted Habiger, encouraged all of his staff members to get tested. So far no one at the restaurant has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m excited to kind of just have that peace of mind,” Habiger said.

He added that restaurants have a responsibility to be truthful and transparent with the public.

“Owners need to take a lot of responsibility, sacrifice those profits for a moment - it’s not really profits anymore, it’s more about staying alive - and get through this together. If we can build the trust in Kansas City with our customers, I think that’s more important than anything else,” he explained.

The Kansas City Health Department confirmed over the weekend there is a backlog in getting test results.

The city is exploring the possibility of expanding its own lab to conduct tests but hasn’t been able to because of cuts to previous years' budgets. In the meantime, the department is asking everyone to wear masks, wash hands and remain socially distant as processing catches up with testing.

This week's testing event takes place at 5000 Bannister Road.