COVID-19 positivity rate is down, health officer hopes it stays that way

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(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

On Wednesday, the Riley County Health Department reported 32 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the local total to 532.

At this time, 374 have recovered, leaving 153 active cases. Five people have died from COVID-19 in Riley County.

Last week, the positivity rate in the county was about 3.5 percent. That means only 3.5 people per 100 tested are returning positive tests.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in percent of positivity here in the county,” local health officer Julie Gibbs said. “We’re hoping that doesn’t change after this week.”

Earlier this week, on-campus classes resumed at Kansas State. The next day, the health department reported an outbreak associated with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. So far, 14 positive tests have been reported from that outbreak. The first positive was counted over the weekend.

Most of the newer cases have been mild and were only tested because they were a close contact of another positive, not necessarily because they had symptoms, Andrew Adams, public health emergency preparedness coordinator, said.

“We must remember to stay the course and do our part to keep our community safe and healthy,” Gibbs said. “We’re all ready to get back to normal, but it might be a slow process so please have patience. We’ll get there. We have to get there safely.”

Students at K-State will be counted through the Riley County Health Department as Riley County residents, not individually as K-State students.

On Thursday, the Vineyard Community Church, located at 2400 Casement Road in the Northview Neighborhood, will have free testing available to the community from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you are getting a test, you don’t need an appointment, but are expected to wear a mask. You do not need to be symptomatic to get a test.

This testing could offer “a better picture” of what is happening with the virus in the community, Gibbs said.

These results should take about two to four days to come back. Adams said the current average testing return time is three days.

“We’re getting there, we’re getting better,” Adams said. “Hopefully we can keep that turnaround time pretty short.”

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.

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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.