Riley County has confirmed 111 new coronavirus cases since Monday, officials said Wednesday.
The reason for the big jump is primarily a delay in reporting previous positive cases from the state tracking system, EpiTrax, officials said. Most of the new positive cases in this report reflect statistics from tests up to two weeks ago, officials said.
Recent issues with the state’s software, including reporting delays, software crashes and lack of information, are what caused the overall delay in reporting, officials said. The Riley County Health Department is working on other ways to gather the data directly to the county to avoid delays, officials said.
“We’re doing our best and this is the data we have at this point,” said Julie Gibbs, local health officer. “We’re working to get the information straightened out.”
The total number of cases in Riley County since the pandemic began in March is 1,501. Of those, 772 are active, 721 are recovered and eight people have died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
County health officials on Wednesday originally released a report with a higher number of new cases, but they later said that number was wrong and corrected it to 111.
Officials also confirmed another outbreak in Riley County at Hylton Heights KinderCare in Manhattan, officials said Wednesday. An employee tested positive for the virus on Sept. 3. The facility closed voluntarily then, officials said.
Since that initial exposure, six other people associated with the facility who had close contact with the positive employee, have also tested positive for the virus, officials said. There are also three pending tests, and the business remains closed.
There are currently 15 active outbreaks in Riley County, officials said. The outbreak at Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Kansas State University has expired, they said Wednesday.
Gibbs also provided additional information to The Mercury on the outbreak at the Homestead Assisted Living facility in Manhattan. She said an employee at the facility tested positive for the virus Aug. 26. On the same day, a resident who was being treated at the hospital received a positive result after a rapid test. After that, eight residents tested positive and health officials are monitoring at least three employees. Three people associated with the facility have died after testing positive for the virus.
“Homestead did everything correctly in contacting us immediately and getting testing started,” Gibbs said in a Wednesday morning email to The Mercury.
Ali Ellis, marketing director for Midwest Health Inc., which is the managing partner for Homestead, said it is unclear how the coronavirus infiltrated the Homestead Assisted Living facility.
Ellis said one resident spent some time at an unidentified hospital for a decline in health and then they came back to Homestead. Ellis said this could be one possible source.
“But we really don’t know,” she said.
Ellis, like Gibbs, said the facility has done everything right in following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and mask-wearing.
“We’re also doing everything that everyone recommends we do,” Ellis said.
She said the state recently completed an inspection and survey on Homestead and it had zero deficiencies.
“The facility’s done everything they can,” Ellis said. “It’s the way [the virus] travels. We don’t know.”
In addition, officials said the Riley County Health Department coronavirus briefings on Facebook are phasing out. There will be no live broadcast Wednesday afternoon as Gibbs will provide a pre-recorded message at 4:15 p.m. Moving forward, news briefings on the virus will occur on an as needed basis.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported 50,870 cases, 2,616 hospitalizations and 586 deaths statewide Wednesday. That is up 971 cases and 52 deaths since Monday, according to KDHE. Geary County’s total since the pandemic began stood at 382 cases; Pottawatomie County’s total was 192, according to KDHE.