On Tuesday, Riley County reported two new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of cases to 31.
The new cases of the virus are in a male and female who are both in their 50s — both are isolating at their homes. The Riley County Health Department said they had close contact with another person known to have the virus.
There is one female patient from Riley County currently receiving care at Ascension Via Christi for “severe lower respiratory symptoms,” local health officer Julie Gibbs said. This is the first reported hospitalization for COVID-19 in the county in weeks.
Riley County is subject to Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order which is in place until May 3. Down the line, the county will start the process of reopening eventually, but now is not the time, Gibbs said. When it does occur in the future, the process will happen in phases and comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have to work with what we are seeing here in the county as well as the region,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to let data drive that decision.”
Case numbers, clusters and hospital capacity will be some of the variables that drive the decision to reopen the county, Gibbs said.
In the meantime, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced plans to expand testing capacities across the state. Before the change, symptoms needed to be present before testing for COVID-19 could occur, but the new guidelines would enable testing for people who might be asymptomatic.
“That’s good news for us because we can test more people this way,” Gibbs said.
The focus is still on maintaining social distancing.
“Continue to stay at home,” Gibbs said. “We need to minimize our risk and continue to stay at home so that we can get back to normal faster.”
Individuals with symptoms are encouraged to call the screening line at 785-323-6400. People with non-emergent questions about COVID-19 in Riley County should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.