Proactive measures are the name of the game as new COVID-19 cases trend downward, Gibbs said

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(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Though the local situation has started to level out as new case rates trend downward, the Riley County Health Department is focusing on preventative measures in anticipation of a population surge when students return to town, local health officer Julie Gibbs said.

Starting Thursday, the new order can be amended or changed as needed, Gibbs said. It does not have a formal expiration date as previous orders have.

Some of the existing policies established by the last few orders will be extended, including general gathering size limitations, but it also institutes some more strict guidance for restaurants and bars.

Specific rules for bars and restaurants include:

  • Employee screenings at the start of each shift
  • Maintenance of an employee screening log
  • Closure of all standing room only areas and all dance floors
  • Closing to the public at midnight
  • Six feet of distance between seated parties

It was important to add more restrictions to bars and restaurants because, through contact tracing, it’s been determined that they are the sources of several new cases, Gibbs said. They are also locations where more high-risk behavior takes place.

“We are doing this because we know we did have a return of students in June … and with that we saw an increase in our percent of positives,” Gibbs said. “We are trying to be preventative in our methods here.”

Classes at Kansas State don’t start until Aug. 17, but students could start returning to the area as soon as this weekend as off-campus leases start Aug. 1.

In the lead up to the start of the semester, Gibbs said students should be paying attention to the advice the university is putting out on social media and the COVID-19 update page.

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

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 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.