PAOLA — More than 140 Miami County residents passed through the free COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot at the Paola Adult Education Center on Friday, Dec. 18 — nearly triple the anticipated daily average.

The site opened Friday at the center, which is located at 1710 Industrial Park Drive, as part of a statewide initiative to ramp up testing. The free saliva tests will be available for adults and children — no symptoms required — through the end of December, according to the Miami County Health Department.

Testing at the Paola site is offered from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Appointments for a test at the Paola site can be made online at Appointments aren’t required, but encouraged. The site will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Mark Whelan, emergency management coordinator with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday, Dec. 21, that 144 people were tested Friday and 62 more tests were conducted on Saturday, bringing the initial two-day total to more than 200 tests.

“They were expecting around 50 or so per day,” Whelan said.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, Whelan said more than 100 people had already been tested that day.

The site is being offered in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Miami County Emergency Management and Miami County Health Department.

The COVID-19 Unified Testing Strategy for Kansas coordinated initiative comes at a time when cases continue to mount in the county and across the state.

Miami County had 1,566 cases as of Monday, according to KDHE.

The county health department issues a COVID-19 update each Wednesday. Whelan, who delivered the Dec. 16 report at the County Commission meeting, said Miami County had 175 active COVID-19 cases at that time, and had recorded two more deaths — both at long-term care facilities. Five of the COVID-19 deaths, about half of the county’s total, have been attributed to three clusters at long-term care facilities.

Whelan said numbers compiled from 31 hospitals in the Kansas City metro area and northeast region of the state show 34 percent of intensive care unit beds are available. Whelan’s report indicates those 31 hospitals combined have 477 staffed ICU beds, and 313 were in use as of Wednesday. Of those 313 beds, 112 are COVID-19 patients. Ventilator availability was 71 percent.

As of Monday, Dec. 21, Kansas had 204,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 105 counties that have resulted in 6,267 hospitalizations and 2,448 deaths, according to KDHE. There were 4,174 cases, 92 hospitalizations and 107 deaths reported since Friday, Dec. 18, according to KDHE.

More than 319,000 Americans and 1.7 million people have died worldwide during the global pandemic.

The overall goal of the state’s new initiative is to double the amount of testing by the end of 2020.

Whelan said in an email the tests are free and no insurance or official ID is required for the free testing at the adult education center.

A person’s name and phone number or email is required for notification purposes if the test comes back positive, according to emergency management.

An authorization and consent form will need to be signed.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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