Riley County reports 18 new COVID cases, 9 recoveries, planning new health order

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Health officials plan to release a new local health order Friday to go into effect on Monday, July 20.

During a Facebook live update, Riley County Health Department Director Julie Gibbs reported 18 new positive COVID-19 tests and 9 recoveries since Friday, July 10.

That brings the county to 150 active cases, 202 reported recoveries and 3 deaths out of 355 total confirmed cases. No positive patients are accounted for in Manhattan’s Ascension Via Christi Hospital, though 2 persons with symptoms are at the facility awaiting test results.

Overall, nearly 60 percent of all confirmed positive individuals in the county have fallen into the 18 to 24 age range. That percentile was on a daily increase for a period within the spike of recent weeks in the county, but has since settled between 59 and 60 percent for a few days. Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Andrew Adams says the average age of positive individuals in Riley County is around 30 — a drop from the 40s earlier in the pandemic.

Gibbs says the exact details of the next local health order are still being worked out, with Order No. 14 planned to expire Sunday. She says they’ll be keeping an eye on conditions locally, noting they expect to see some of the possible effects on virus cases resulting from July 4th gatherings this week. Gibbs was hopeful that the next order will not introduce any stricter orders.

Additionally, Gibbs says teams from RCHD will be visiting restaurants and bars starting this week to check their screening logs and answer any questions business owners may have. All bars and restaurants are required under local health orders to screen employee travel and symptoms prior to their shifts. Additionally, those businesses with positive cases linked to them will have a staff member assigned to work them through the process of responding to the exposure.

Positives are still up compared to a few weeks ago, but have slowed near the end of last week. Going forward, Gibbs says they are anticipating ebbs and flows in positive cases locally — especially as students return to the community. She says they can celebrate the decline at the moment, but shouldn’t take that to mean the trend cannot reverse.

Additionally, Gibbs says health officials are meeting with county schools daily to hash out re-opening plans for the Fall. She notes, though, they are preparing for the worst case scenario for the semester despite their hopes conditions will keep that from becoming reality.

Adams says the outbreak at Leonardville Nursing Home has officially been declared over, having gone through two incubation periods (28 days) without any new cases. He also notes all positive patients from that outbreak have recovered. Adams was asked about any cases at Meadowlark, to which he replied they are monitoring retirement communities around the county and will release more when they have ‘appropriate’ information.

He says active outbreaks continue in Aggieville and KSU Athletics. K-State is currently reporting 2 active cases out of 29 cumulative positives.

Test results continue to run long. Officials say they are working with labs as far as Tulsa to speed up wait times, which can last a week or longer. Adams says the situation is tricky and involves navigating supply chain issues, equipment shortages, the number of tests labs are receiving and their labor capacity as well. But he says a lot of negatives came in over the weekend, indicating some of the backlog has been cleared up.

Gibbs says work continues in solidifying an alternate care site that could serve as a rehab and quarantine center for recovered COVID patients or possibly exposed health care workers and more.

Those with COVID-19 symptoms are can call the screening line Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions can also be directed to Rileycountycovid19@gmail.com. Learn more about symptoms at CDC.gov.

Konza United Way is handling mask donations for Riley County. Collections and distributions take place Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. or by appointment. Contact them at konzaunitedway.org.

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