Riley County has seen a steep increase in COVID-19 cases in the last week and a half, but public health officials say the majority are experiencing mild symptoms.

Riley County reported Wednesday 68 new positive tests and one recovery since Monday’s release. That makes 290 active cases, up from 153 in the week since Wednesday, August 19. Overall, 674 novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the county. Of those, 379 recoveries have been reported — up from 374 on August 19 — and five county residents have died.

None of the new cases were associated with any previously reported outbreaks.

Currently 1 patient is in the care of Manhattan’s Ascension Via Christi Hospital. President and CEO Bob Copple says the patient is not from the county and hopes they will be discharged in the next day or so. The situation has raised some questions about safe housing upon discharge, though, as the patient is still positive and their health condition makes them vulnerable.

The percent positive rate also increased sharply, 11.67 percent of all tests being confirmed positive through the end of last week. The week prior saw rates of 4.9 percent and the one before that saw a 4.7 percent positivity rate among all tested individuals.

183 positive tests are linked to K-State, either among students, faculty or staff. Since the beginning of classes on August 17, 63 of 678 tests came back positive for a campus-related percent positivity rate of 9.29 percent.

Additionally, Pottawatomie County is reporting 2 new positives and 11 recoveries since Monday. That brings them to 11 active cases — a net drop of 9 cases — and 133 recoveries of 144 confirmed cases.

The two week percent positive rate as of Monday, August 24 was 9.28 percent. That’s less than a percentage point below the 10 percent two week rate which if the county exceeds would send Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 to remote education.

Health Department Director Julie Gibbs asks residents to be mindful as the Fall semester begins and to abide by health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus and push the county over the rate that would send schools online.

Gibbs also notes many of the positives are falling in the 18 to 24 age range, which Copple says is typical of what’s been recorded by health professionals. Typically, infections start at the younger group and move their way up in the next two weeks, with any hospitalizations usually taking up to two weeks to fully manifest. Copple further noted that middle age range folks are the most represented among their hospitalizations, higher than even the older 60+ age ranges.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Andrew Adams says some of the positives they are seeing are asymptomatic but were close contacts of other positive individuals. Copple adds that one of those asymptomatic positives reported they were not isolating between their test and receiving the results. In light of that, he stressed the importance of and personal responsibility to follow guidelines and quarantine/isolate as told.

Adams says tests have been coming back quicker than back in July as well. He says they’re coming back within 24 to 72 hours at most nowadays, which he adds makes their response and contact tracing quicker as well. Gibbs says the county is looking to increase their testing capacity and speed even further as well utilizing CARES Act funding. The County Commission has approved purchases of 5 rapid testing machines as well as supplies for about 20,000 tests which they anticipate will last through the end of the year.

Resources for Greek housing are available through the Fraternity and Sorority Life at K-State (FSL) at Find additional resources and guidance for group living quarters on the Riley County website at More advice and information for people in shared or congregate housing is available from the CDC at

Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 or were in close contact with a confirmed positive individual should contact their health care provider and the Riley County screening line at (785) 323-6400. That’s staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional questions can be sent to Konza United Way is also offering free face coverings at its office at 555 Poyntz Ave St 245 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m.

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