COVID-19 recoveries surpass active case numbers for the first time in ‘a long time,’ Riley County health officials say

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(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

For the first time in “a long time,” COVID-19 recoveries outpace active cases in Riley County, local health officer Julie Gibbs said. There are 181 people marked as recovered and 141 current cases.

“It feels good to take those small wins as we can,” Gibbs said.

It’s too soon to celebrate, but it is a good sign, said Andrew Adams, emergency preparedness coordinator for public health.

“Overall, we’re still seeing that increase [in new cases], but, hopefully, if we can start to decrease the new positives everyday, keep that number shrinking, I think that’s a good sign,” Adams said. “Two days isn’t quite a trend yet. … It’s promising.”

A total of 325 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the county. The local death toll remains at three. There is also one patient currently hospitalized, and they are on a ventilator.

The wait time for test results has increased to a maximum of 10 business days, which isn’t ideal, Gibbs said previously. Part of that can be attributed to backlogs at labs analyzing the tests.

The county will be looking at pathways to quicker COVID-19 test return rates, Gibbs said. That can, however, be a trap, Bob Copple, president and CEO of Ascension Via Christi Hospital, said. Testing procedures that have quicker turnarounds can lead to less accurate results.

“Our energies have been towards the methodologies and the equipment that have the higher accuracy,” Copple said.

On Tuesday, the Riley County Health Department announced a new local order that keeps gathering sizes limited to 50 people. This order is now active and will stay in effect until at least July 19.

One key difference in the new order is that there isn’t a capacity restriction on bars and restaurants. In the previous order, capacity was limited to 75 percent.

That change was applied because limiting capacity wasn’t having the desired effect of lowering new cases.

“We decided to take a totally different route and instead look at closing time,” Gibbs said.

The latest guidelines require bars and restaurants to close at midnight. In the previous order, those establishments could stay open until 2 a.m.

Though the Riley County Commission voted against upholding Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask requirement, the Manhattan City Commission decided to require them within city limits.

More guidance on that order should be available on the Manhattan city website in the next few days, Gibbs said.

As an added precaution, Copple said visitation will not be allowed at the hospital except for births, end-of-life visits and some pediatric situations.

“This is really a response to not only seeing positives in the community, but just concerns with staff and/or providers being exposed, we are trying to minimize that as much as possible,” Copple 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. 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.

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the 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.