As students return to Kansas State University, health officials expect some uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Riley County Wednesday reported 6 new positive COVID tests and 17 recoveries since Monday. That brings the active case count to 115. 369 recoveries, 12 probable cases and 5 deaths of 489 confirmed cases have also been reported since March. Currently, 2 positive patients are hospitalized, 1 on a ventilator.
Pottawatomie County reported 1 new test and no new recoveries since Monday. That brings the active case count to 4. 113 reported recoveries add up to a total of 117 confirmed cases in the county.
Riley County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Andrew Adams says they do not have specific anticipated increases related to student activity, but expect figures somewhere between what is seen lately and the spike that occurred late June.
“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.”
Adams says a good chunk of younger folks in town may have already had it due to the rate of infection among younger people. Currently, over 53 percent of all cases have fallen within the 18 to 24 age bracket. That was as high as 59 percent last month. Another 14.9 percent of cases fall in the 25 to 34 age bracket.
Adams says they are hopeful that percent positivity stays steady or decreases even if an uptick occurs as well. Health Officer Julie Gibbs also notes Lafene Health Center has a plan and capacity to provide tests to the student population.
Riley County has seen an increase in COVID-19 testing speed in recent weeks as well.
Earlier in July, wait times could take from 7 days to even 2 weeks in some cases. Since then, Adams says that’s dropped to 2 to 5 day waits.
“With the quicker turnaround time we’re able to more quickly contact that case, start the investigation process, do our contact tracing and really try to slow the spread of COVID much more efficiently and much more effectively while we’re still kind of in that sweet spot where we need to be able to make these people stay home […] while they could still be getting other people sick.”
Health Officer Julie Gibbs says there is also work occurring to use relief funding to get new testing equipment to further speed up test wait times.
“We are looking at that now and have put a plan in place,” says Gibbs. “Hopefully, if all the stars align, we’ll be able to get those devices so we can get tests quicker.”
Adams also commented on antibody tests, saying they are becoming more and more accurate as time progresses. Even so, he admits there is the possibility that the test could react to other coronaviruses than the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which is why they do not rely on the figures for diagnostic purposes and record the numbers separately in their data.
Those looking to be tested are asked to call their health care provider and the Riley County screening line at 785-323-6400. That’s staffed Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 p.m.