A month ago, local health officer Julie Gibbs indicated that Riley County is faring better than anticipated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although community spread is evident, the county is doing well at combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The local social distancing grade on the index fluctuates between ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades, meaning residents have reduced movement by 30 to 40 percent.
“We’ve had relatively mild symptoms with most of the individuals that we’ve had,” Gibbs said previously. “I think we’ve done a good job with our social distancing — we need to keep it up though.”
Right now, there are fewer documented cases of COVID-19 than expected in Riley County, Gibbs said. Additionally, the severity of cases has been lower than anticipated. There has been one documented death in Riley County related to complications from the novel coronavirus, and the man who died had an underlying condition. In all, the local death rate from COVID-19 is lower than the statewide average — about two percent of statewide patients with the novel coronavirus have died.
Additionally, Riley County hasn’t reported any new positive cases in almost a week. Kansas, on the other hand, has recorded more than 650 new cases since last Friday.
Going into this weekend, a modified second phase of the statewide reopening plan will take effect.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, all of my administration’s decision-making regarding our reopening efforts has been driven by data – not dates,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in a press release. “Because of the great work Kansans and businesses have done to keep others safe, data now indicate we are seeing a more consistent decline in hospitalizations, COVID-19-related deaths and a consistent decrease in disease spread.”
During this phase, gatherings will be limited to 15 people, but all businesses — excluding bars, clubs and pools — will be permitted to open.
“I would like to be clear — moving forward in Kansas’ reopening plan does not mean that COVID-19 no longer threatens our communities,” Kelly said. “Modifying Phase 2 to keep some restrictions allows us to reopen Kansas’ economy as quickly and safely as possible, while exercising necessary caution to keep Kansans healthy.”
Lead public information officer for the Riley County COVID-19 response Vivienne Uccello said in an email that local regulations won’t change. Local Health Order No. 8 requires all restaurants to close at 10 p.m. and doesn’t permit bars and nightlife businesses to reopen.
“When bars are allowed to reopen, the local order will likely be rescinded,” Uccello said.
Businesses with questions about best practices should call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at 785-776-8829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional resources for reopening local businesses are available at regionreimagined.org.