Recent climb in new COVID-19 cases steeper than anticipated, health officials say

The recent increase in cases over the weekend and this week has been higher than the county was anticipating, Vivienne Uccello, public information officer for the city of Manhattan, said. (Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

The Riley County Health Department reported 68 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the local total to 674. It’s one of the steepest increases in cases documented locally throughout the pandemic.

The recent rise in new cases is more than the county was anticipating, Vivienne Uccello, public information officer for the city of Manhattan, said, even with classes restarting on Kansas State’s campus.

“It’s not the direction that we wanted to see in the community,” Uccello said.

Last week, the positivity rate was greater than 11 percent, but the two-week cumulative percent of positivity remains below the 10 percent threshold still.

The majority of the new cases, local health officer Julie Gibbs said, are in the 18-year-old to 24-year-old age group.

“We are not accusing them, we are fighting … alongside them to keep them healthy and safe,” Uccello said. “Nobody’s against anyone we want to … keep you safe and healthy.”

Most of these newer cases are more mild, but correlate with an increase in gatherings, Andrew Adams, public health emergency preparedness coordinator, said.

However, Uccello spoke briefly about a 21-year-old county resident in the hospital for over 30 days after testing positive for COVID-19. She doesn’t have any pre-existing conditions, but ultimately had a portion of her lung removed because of virus complications.

“Please be mindful of others,” Gibbs said. “If you’re experiencing any symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive needs to stay home.”

Currently, one positive patient remains hospitalized at Ascension Via Christi hospital. They are not a Riley County resident and should be able to be discharged from in-patient care soon, Bob Copple, CEO and president of the hospital, said.

As cases rise, Copple said there is a possibility hospitalizations could begin to rise as younger people spread the virus to other community members who are of a higher-risk age category.

Additionally, 379 of those who previously tested positive are considered to be recovered, leaving 290 active cases in the county. Riley County has documented five COVID-19-related deaths.

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 get tested for COVID-19 at Lafene Health Center, call your primary care provider or the health center to discuss whether you qualify for a test. Appointments may be necessary.

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.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-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.