Even as Riley County experiences a decline in coronavirus cases, it hasn’t triggered a reconsideration of local health regulations on bars and restaurants.
Riley County Health Department (RCHD) Director Julie Gibbs said she is not considering loosening restrictions or rescinding a local health order as this is one of the pieces keeping the population safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials issued the order Aug. 17.
“The guidelines we’ve set in order 18 I believe are important to continue doing as they are another tool to help keep everyone safe,” Gibbs told The Mercury.
The order limits restaurants and bars to seated areas only, keeping parties six feet apart from one another. Those establishments also must close at midnight every night, with all people leaving by 12:30 a.m. People cannot stand and consume food or drinks at a counter or bar. In addition, the order recommends employers screen employees about symptoms, temperatures and travel prior to the start of a shift.
According to Riley County data, the county had 8.8% of its total test results confirmed as positive during the week of Sept. 27. The county’s rate has steadily declined since a high of 34.3% during the week of Aug. 23.
This past week, the county posted two-day case increases of four on Wednesday and eight on Friday.
Those were the lowest increases in cases since Aug. 3, when Riley County added only one.
On Thursday, Ascension Via Christi Hospital president Bob Copple described the local situation as “very manageable.”
The total cases in Riley County since the pandemic began in March is 1,945, as of Friday. Of those, 138 are active, 1,798 have recovered and nine people have died.
Gibbs said mask compliance, in addition to the health order and other measures, is important to help stop the spread of the virus.
“I think our community knows what steps to take to stay safe and by opening up more venues slowly, it’s helped keep our numbers low,” she said.
With flu season coming up and coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, Gibbs said it is vital for people to get the flu shot early this year.
RCHD is offering drive-through flu shots every morning Monday-Thursday under the tent at the health department parking lot. The health department asks people to make an appointment by calling 785-776-4779.
Gibbs said it is critical for people to stay home when not feeling well.
“This is especially important for parents to keep their children home if they are not well,” she said. “This will protect their peers from getting sick and also will protect the teachers and other school staff.”
Gibbs said the health department plans to provide an update later this week on the status of outbreaks in Riley County.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) on Friday reported 65,807 cases, 3,185 hospitalizations and 763 deaths statewide. That was up 1,633 new cases, 64 hospitalizations and 40 new deaths since Wednesday.
Pottawatomie County had an increase of eight cases since Wednesday for a total of 316 while Geary County had an increase of seven for a total of 470, according to KDHE.