On Thursday, the Riley County commissioners voted to extend the mask mandate through Sunday, May 16, requiring face coverings in public spaces until the end of the academic year at least.
This extension has no bearing on the order in place within city of Manhattan limits, however. The city has its own mask mandate that institutes penalties against parties found out of compliance.
The county also approved public health order No. 21. Similar to the previous order, the current ordinance does not require event registration permits nor does it impose a limit to gathering size. Beyond face covering policies, there are also no restrictions on business operations.
“Actions taken so far have demonstrated significant success in flattening the epidemic curve to prevent overwhelming our local health care system’s ability to care for the number of residents who might develop severe symptoms,” local health officer Julie Gibbs said in a press release.
Though not required, Gibbs still recommends county residents engage in social distancing practices and use good hand hygiene regularly.
Previously, Gibbs said the Riley County Health Department would consider imposing more restrictive COVID-19 mitigation requirements if the case number and positivity rate trajectory changed. For the week of March 14, the community positivity rate was below two percent.
Kansas State, on the other hand, has not changed its COVID-19 restrictions or campus policies. Under the current phase in the Reawakening protocol — Phase 3 — face coverings are required at all times on campus property and gatherings are still limited to 50 people.
However, K-State announced tentative plans to enter phase-out beginning Aug. 1. What exactly that will look like is unknown at this time, but Lafene Medical Center’s medical director Dr. Kyle Goerl expects the next academic year to look more normal.
“If we stay on the same trajectory, this is definitely a breath of fresh air and it leaves us feeling pretty hopeful for the fall semester that things are looking a lot more like normal than they look like in the 20-21 year,” Goerl said previously.