KDHE declares COVID-19 outbreaks associated with K-State football, Aggieville

(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

On Wednesday, Riley County added 24 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the local total to 156.

Local health officer Julie Gibbs said there are two outbreaks in the county right now: one associated with Aggieville and another related to the Kansas State football team.

Emergency preparedness coordinator for public health Andrew Adams said some of the football players who tested positive likely became infected out of town, but some have also become infected after arriving.

Last week, K-State Athletics suspended voluntary workouts after 14 athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

As for the Aggieville outbreak, at least 30 cases can be traced back to activities in the business district, Adams said.

On Tuesday, the Riley County Health Department issued a new “restrictive activities” order. The new order shrinks the gathering size limit to 50 people and replaces restrictions on restaurants and bars.

Social distancing and face-coverings are strongly recommended, but aren’t mandated. Throughout most of the pandemic, Riley County has relied heavily on voluntary compliance with orders, but local law enforcement does have the authority to issue citations to those who fail to fall in line.

“It’s very hard to enforce that,” Gibbs said. “We want individuals to make that good decision on their own.”

Individual city commissions have the authority to pass legislative action that would mandate mask wearing, but Gibbs said she isn’t aware of any townships or cities in Kansas that have taken that step.

Even without stay-at-home orders, Gibbs said people should remain “proactive” as the pandemic continues — avoid crowded businesses, wear a mask and stay home.

“The minute you get around other people, you’re already putting yourself at risk,” Gibbs said.

Businesses with questions about best practices should call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at 785-776-8829 or email info@manhattan.org. Additional resources for reopening local businesses are available at regionreimagined.org.

Individuals with symptoms are encouraged to call the screening line at 785-323-6400. The screening line is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of June. People with non-emergent questions about COVID-19 in Riley County should send an email to rileycountycovid19@gmail.com.

To be tested in Riley County, individuals must present at least two symptoms of COVID-19. The complete list of known symptoms is available on the health department website.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.