Local downward trend in new COVID-19 cases continues

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(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

The Riley County Health Department reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday, bringing the local total to 465. Additionally, 336 of those who previously tested positive are considered recovered, leaving 116 active cases in the county.

LOCAL COVID-19 TRENDS

The overall trend in new cases is downward, local health officer Julie Gibbs said. Gibbs attributes this to community support of and compliance with health orders like the city of Manhattan mask mandate.

The newest local order, issued last week, continues some of the existing policies established by the previous order, including gathering size limitations, but institutes some more strict guidance for restaurants and bars.

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

Local Health Order No. 16 requires:

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

That downward trend can also be seen in the local health care system as hospitalizations in Riley County fluctuate between one and a few cases every day, Bob Copple, president and CEO of Ascension Via Christi hospital, said.

Very few local cases have been severe. In general, most of the cases locally have been in younger people, Copple said, which has likely kept the degree of severe cases low.

REOPENING SCHOOLS

Schools — both public and private — at all levels are preparing to reopen for the year.

“They are working hard at protecting everyone in their buildings,” Gibbs said.

Even then, Gibbs said the community is bracing for an increase in cases as K-12 students return to classrooms and university students flock back to town from all over the world.

Kansas State plans to start some in-person classes in less than two weeks. The process for reopening campus has already begun, with some buildings like the K-State Student Union and the Peter’s Recreational Complex reopening for some services earlier this week.

“We’re all expecting somewhat of a spike,” Gibbs said. “We just don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like.”

The hope is that the spike isn’t as large as the one Riley County saw in June when the county started to reopen.

As K-State students return to town, Andrew Adams, emergency preparedness coordinator for public health, advises them to avoid spaces that are close and crowded as well as any kind of close contact with people outside of the household.

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.