RCHD considering more restrictive health order; looking to speed up COVID-19 testing

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Possible new health order

The Riley County Health Department will consider issuing a new, more restrictive health order as soon as next week.

“What we have in our order right now is just not working,” Julie Gibbs, RCHD administrator, said. “We are going to need to do something a little bit more restrictive.”

RCHD will likely have something out to the public either Monday or Tuesday.

County health officials give each order about 14 days to see if it has an effect on COVID-19 case numbers.

Gibbs says the current health order, Health Order No. 13, has not had an impact.

It went into effect on June 24 and restricts mass gathering sizes to 50 people, limits restaurant and bar occupancy to 75 percent, keeps large venues closed and requires the screening of restaurant and bar employees prior to each shift.

Consideration of other testing labs

RCHD is also considering others labs to which it can send COVID-19 swabbing tests.

According to a City of Manhattan official, some test results are taking five to 10 days to return.

“Sometimes, by the time you get your test results, you’re already recovered,” Gibbs said. “So we’re exploring other options. This is on the top of my list as far as my goals to get something faster and that’s just exploring other labs.”

Gibbs attributes the slowness in part to an increase in the volume of tests being done and, in response to questions about how much lab employees are working, says there has not been a cut back in hours and that lab employees are working on weekends to process test results.

The Riley County swabbing station will not be available this weekend and will reopen on Monday.

Update on testing of EMS and MFD staff

According to Gibbs, tests that were conducted on workers in the Manhattan Fire Department have come back negative.

Other tests conducted on Riley County Emergency Medical Services employees that were pending as of earlier this week also came back negative, leaving the number of total positive cases in the department to six.

Riley County officials confirmed on June 28 that an outbreak was present among EMS employees and that two out of 4 EMS stations had seen positive cases with a third likely.

Riley County case numbers

Riley County has confirmed 12 new positive cases of COVID-19 since Thursday.

With this increase, Riley County has a total of 148 active cases, 122 recoveries, 273 total cases, 238 pending test results, 2,755 negative test results and three deaths.

About 56 percent of the total number of cases in Riley County have been people 18 to 24-years old.

People 25 to 34-years old in Riley County make up the next largest percentage of cases at about 17 percent.

Ascension Via Christi Hospital has one positive patient on a ventilator and zero Persons Under Investigation.

Kansas has a total of 15,919 positive cases, 1,219 hospitalizations, 175,642 negative test results and 277 deaths.

The Riley County Screening Line will not be available this weekend but is available Monday through Friday.

According to Gibbs, K+STAT West is open tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but those with a medical emergency should call 911.

K+STAT’s location and contact information can be found here.

Face masks are available at Konza United Way on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 3 p.m..

The address for Konza United Way is 555 Poyntz Ave., Suite 245.

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