New cases are trending downward, but local health officer expects crisis to ‘ebb and flow’

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(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

The Riley County Health Department reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the local total to 355. Additionally, 202 of those who previously tested positive are considered to be recovered, leaving 150 active cases in the county.

Right now, the amount of new cases reported daily is decreasing, but local health officer Julie Gibbs said that doesn’t mean everything is put back together. She said the crisis will ebb and flow for the foreseeable future, especially as students at Kansas State return to town.

“We know we are going to see an increase in our positives, that’s just inevitable,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the health department “is planning for the worst” as the return to in-person classes nears.

Recently, cases have spiked in people aged 18 to 24. Vivienne Uccello, city of Manhattan public information officer, said about 60 percent of all local positives have fallen in that age group.

(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)
(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Gibbs said the health department will start visiting businesses in the area to examine their screening logs. In the newest order, employees must be screened at the start of each shift. It is only required at restaurants and bars, but is recommended for all businesses, Gibbs said.

Also, health department staff members have been assigned to businesses where employees have tested positive to help manage “exposure,” Gibbs said.

Andrew Adams, emergency preparedness coordinator for public health, said the county is constantly examining possible outbreaks. The Leonardville Nursing Home outbreak is “officially declared over,” Adams said, but the outbreaks in Aggieville persist.

For an outbreak to be considered over, there needs to be two incubation periods — or 28 days — that have passed without any new positive cases. The outbreak at K-State Athletics associated with the football team has nearly reached that marker, Adams 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 5 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 Editor in Chief of the Collegian. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a junior 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. I am fueled by a lot of coffee and I spend my (sparse) free time watching stand-up comedy.