Riley County health officials have confirmed an outbreak of at least six positive cases of coronavirus at Riley County Emergency Medical Services. Three additional tests were pending as of Sunday.
According to the health department, positive cases have been confirmed at two out of four EMS stations in the county, with a third likely. All emergency medical and fire services are said to be fully supported and operational. There have been no changes in response posture for the community.
The initial infections have been tracked to community spread, and not from exposure to patients served by EMS. The health department says the close living quarters for emergency personnel caused the transfer between staff members.
“Thankfully, none of the cases have been severe,” said Riley County EMS Director David Adams.
Adams says protocols were put in place early on to address potential staffing issues if an outbreak occurred. Those shifts are being covered through overtime or part-time staff in order to continue serving the community.
“My staff are reporting headaches, pressure behind the eyes, body aches and fatigue so I have every hope that they will all make full recoveries,” Adams said.
The Manhattan Fire Department works closely with EMS and occupy some of the same living quarters. Nine Manhattan firefighters who share the same living quarters with Riley County EMS officials have been pulled from active duty, pending test results. Some of them are in quarantine at a local hotel. Fire Chief Scott French says he regrets not informing the public sooner.
“We wish we could have issued a report as soon as we knew of the positives, but our first priority was taking care of staff and making sure there were enough unexposed individuals to cover all shifts to continue providing emergency services,” he said.
French says moving forward, the fire department will inform communications staff immediately if there is an outbreak.
There has been a surge in new positive cases, with 102 new cases reported since June 19. The health department, as of Sunday, was monitoring 121 active cases. There have been 207 people in total test positive for COVID-19 since March and 83 total recoveries. Currently the hospital has just one positive patient who is on a ventilator. The county has totaled three deaths during the past three months.
The county is awaiting 189 pending tests and so far 2,469 individuals have tested negative for the virus.
RCHD will continue its daily updates at 4:15 p.m. via Facebook live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Health Officer Julie Gibbs joins the KMAN Morning Show at 7 a.m. Monday.