A new local health order is expected to be released Tuesday and take effect Wednesday, local health officer Julie Gibbs said.
“We are looking carefully at our percent positives, where those positives are coming from and the outbreaks in the area, our hospital capacity and also at what is going on in our region,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said the order would likely keep gatherings limited to 50 people. The positivity rate has decreased, she said, but not to the degree the health department wants to see.
“Our numbers are not really where we want them to be,” Gibbs said. “We are still seeing that increase we don’t want to see.”
Emergency preparedness coordinator Andrew Adams said he would like to see the percent positive rate in Riley County be below the state rate, which is approximately eight percent.
Riley County added 36 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. A majority of the cases are still in the 18 to 24 age range, Gibbs said, and are associated with the Aggieville outbreak.
Adams said Riley County is working to break down the positive cases based on location and business. As of Monday, 45 unique individuals with positive tests have been identified as people who frequented Aggieville at some point in the past two weeks. Each of those 45 individuals have visited an average of two other locations.
“We haven’t seen severe illnesses, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t serious,” Adams said.
On Monday, the Riley County Commissioners met and decided not to require masks in the county. Gibbs said she wasn’t surprised the Commissioners opted out of Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask order. However, the Manhattan City Commission meets on Tuesday, and she said it is possible that body could implement a mask order.
“It’s a confusing time, but I think the recommendations are still there,” Gibbs said. “There are studies out there that show they are effective and it’s just one more tool.”
While masks aren’t required, Gibbs recommends wearing masks in public, staying home when possible and continuing social distancing.
“Please continue to get your information from a reliable source and share that information with others,” Gibbs 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.
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. People with non-emergent questions about COVID-19 in Riley County should send an email to email@example.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.