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Up To Date

Disruption, Then Disease | Free COVID-19 Testing | Affirmation Billboards

A nurse in full protective gear is holding a swab next to an open car window at drive thru COVID-19 testing site.
Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
A Family Nurse Practitioner at the Samuel Rodgers Health Clinic retrieves a sample during drive-through COVID- 19 testing at Independence Boulevard Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

How pandemics have disproportionately affected the displaced and disenfranchised throughout America's history, where and how to obtain a free test for the coronavirus in Kansas City, Missouri, and how one billboard with an empowering message spread to hundreds around the world.

Segment 1, beginning at 3:42: The current pandemic is not the first time vulnerable people have been hit hardest by an uncontrolled disease.

Pandemics have been killing the country's most vulnerable populations since European explorers first set foot in North America. A historian explained the conditions that allow diseases to repeatedly decimate indigenous peoples and people of color.

Segment 2, beginning at 33:07: The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department offers free COVID-19 tests every week.

You can get a free coronavirus test in Kansas City, but health officials ask that you do a self-assessment to determine whether you need it and how long to wait after possible exposure to request testing.

Segment 3, beginning at 44:07: In finding a way to uplift others, one Kansas City artist is healing herself.

Nicole Leth's father died from suicide when she was only 17. Since then her life goal, she writes, "has been to give people a space to heal from the inside out." Leth started an affirmation project with a single billboard on a Kansas City highway, that eventually included more than 600 across the world.

  • Nicole Leth, writer and artist

To schedule a COVID-19 test with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department call 311 by 5 p.m. the day before you need to be tested. If your mobile service won't connect to 311, call 816-513-1313. Visit the health department's website for more information.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Brian Ellison is a guest host of talk shows, newscasts, special coverage and community events for KCUR. Follow him on Twitter @ptsbrian.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at
Mackenzie Martin is a producer for Up To Date, Real Humans By Gina Kaufmann, and other podcasts at KCUR Studios. Reach out to her at or on Twitter @_macmartin.
Danie Alexander is the senior producer of Up To Date.