Andrew Smith, journalism professor and news director for the student television productions at Kansas State University, is the first person in Riley County to test positive for the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Riley County Health Department Director Julie Gibbs said at a Friday press conference that a 51-year-old Manhattan man tested positive for the virus after traveling overseas in London. Gibbs did not release Smith’s identity.
Smith’s wife wrote about his condition and his experience with the virus Saturday on Facebook. On Sunday, he posted a video on his own Facebook page, thanking people for their support. He said his condition was about the same. "Hopefully we'll throw our arms around each other soon," he said.
Gibbs had said Friday that the patient was in self isolation at his home, but that changed and he is now at the hospital with “severe respiratory symptoms.”
Ascension Via Christi doctors are treating Smith for bilateral pneumonia, his wife said. Smith’s wife said he is currently on oxygen.
Smith and his family did not travel anywhere in the Manhattan or Riley County area other than back to their home after returning from London.
They flew into and out of the Kansas City International Airport. When they came home they didn’t stop anywhere, his wife said.
Gibbs said Friday that the man visited the hospital on March 17.
“We want to emphasize that the patient did everything right,” health officials wrote in a release. “When the patient returned from overseas via the Kansas City airport, (he) got in touch with healthcare providers immediately and did not travel to any locations in Manhattan.
“Riley County Health Department staff members have been in touch with people who may have come into contact with this patient. At this time we do not face the threat of community spread in Riley County.”
Smith’s wife posted the following on her Facebook page, which Smith later shared to his own Facebook page:
“I am not a big social media fan as I am keenly aware of how it invigorates some and diminishes others-but this feels important.
Andrew Smith has Covid-19. He is in the hospital with bilateral pneumonia that is not improving and is on oxygen. There are wonderful medical professionals helping. We are so thankful for them and for our kind neighbors and friends who are leaving needed supplies at our door. We have plenty, unlike so many.
“This new reality started years ago with a few events. The first is being a part of a generation that have seen a lot of possible global pandemics that ultimately had no immediate effect on us and so we became inured to them. The second was our desire to show our girls the world outside of our front door on a middle-class budget.
“Two years ago Andrew planned this trip through study abroad. Six months ago non-refundable airline tickets were purchased. When we left on March 4th there were only a few cases in the U.S. and the U.K. While abroad we took the same precautions as everyone. We did not see a single medical profession on our travel home from London to Kansas City. We engaged with as few people as possible during our travel home. We landed in Kansas City where our dear friend had left our car at the curb.
“We got in and drove directly home without stopping. The only place we have been is the E.R. with medical professionals in full protective gear. We acted as responsibly as we could.
“I post this so any of you who might be thinking the response to this was a massive overreaction. Please know it is not. I am sure that all of us in this house have Covid-19, though only Andrew’s test went in to the health department. I am fine. (Our children) are fine. Andrew is not. Andrew works out every day, eats well and is in generally FANTASTIC health.
“This virus is selective, and none know who the next victim will be. Please be careful. Follow the guidelines. Stay home. Sleep, read, think. Do all the things our normally frenetic pace of life will not allow.
“Above all, please take this seriously.”