Health officers expect COVID-19 cases to increase as school begins

(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

As Kansas State classes are set to begin in less than a week, local health officers expect an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Andrew Adams, emergency preparedness coordinator for public health, said while they haven’t been experiencing the same volume of cases they had a month and a half ago, they are expecting new cases to come in as students come back to school.

“We’re expecting somewhere in between right now and that point,” Adams said. “We’re prepared to handle a large influx of cases like that — of new cases every day with what we’ve done with our contact tracing efforts and ramping up our workforce to do that. We are still working through the numbers and the modeling to get something that we’re comfortable with looking at and projecting outwards.”

Two COVID-19 positive patients are in the hospital in Riley County, one of whom is on a ventilator. Riley County currently has 115 cases considered active and 369 recovered.

Local health officer Julie Gibbs reported a decrease in COVID-19 percent positivity in Riley County.

“We’re using that number with a lot of our decisions in the [emergency operations center] when we look at new orders that are coming out, whether it’s strengthening an order or relaxing those orders, but we need to look that percent positivity,” Gibbs said. “That is also used as criteria for our schools.”

Last week, a vote by county commissioners shifted the screening requirement for restaurants and bars to screen their employees to a recommendation.

“I know many were discouraged by the lifting of the screening requirements,” Gibbs said. “This was actually a decision made based on a legal issue with that particular part of the order. It is now back to recommendation for bars and restaurants to be screening their employees before every shift. This is a best practice that every business should be doing and we trust that all businesses will continue to do this even though it’s just a recommendation.”

Businesses with questions about best practices should call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at 785-776-8829 or email Additional resources for reopening local businesses are available at

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

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.

Hi there! I'm Julie Freijat. I'm the managing editor of the Collegian. In the past, I've served as an editor on the news and culture desks and worked closely with the multimedia staff. I love science and technology, hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.