Health Department announces five new COVID-19 deaths as case count drops

(Graphic by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

In the latest COVID-19 update released March 2, the Riley County Health Department announced five additional deaths attributed to COVID-19. The five deaths occurred in December, January and February. According to the report, four of the people were unvaccinated. The latest death was a 60-year-old vaccinated man who tested positive in January and died on February 24. Those deaths bring the county’s total to 79 since the start of the pandemic.

However, the number of cases has decreased. Since the previous report on February 16, the health department has identified 188 new cases, 132 of which were reported in the past two weeks.

With just 46 active cases of COVID-19, a decrease of 203 active cases since the previous report and 386 additional recoveries, Health Department Director Julie Gibbs said the county is in a much better position than it was. has been for the past two years. .

“Thankfully, the community is now able to resume more of the social activities that we all love,” Gibbs said in the report. “The health service will remain vigilant and active, and we will let you know if a new variant causes problems locally. COVID will continue to be a part of our lives, but it is not currently an emergency for Riley County.

According to the report, Ascension Via Christi has seen an 86% decrease in hospitalizations since the omicron surge began in early January. There are four COVID-19 positive patients at Ascension Via Christi. The report did not say whether any of these patients were in the intensive care unit.

Along with the number of cases and hospitalizations, the two-week positivity rate has also decreased from 16.64% to 6.68% in the past two weeks, in line with the decrease in the number of cases.

On campus for the same period, the positivity rate has not been updated. However, the most recent reported positivity rate was 8.85% for the February 14-18 period.

The Department of Health also announced that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines that the county can use to determine next steps for the local community. According to the CDC’s website, Riley County is at a medium risk level. Risk levels are determined by several factors: hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients, hospital admissions, and the number of new COVID-19 cases in the region.

The report also states that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment testing site at 3019 Anderson Avenue in the Plaza West Mall remains open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday for COVID-19 PCR testing. 19 free until March 31. KDHE will also distribute up to three free N95 masks to each person who requests them.

Symptomatic patients requiring rapid testing can make an appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays with the Health Department by calling (785) 323-6400 from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Plus, free at-home testing is available while supplies last.

In the report, Gibbs said she hopes people staying home when sick is a lasting change.

“Staying home if you’re sick is a cultural shift that I hope will last well beyond COVID-19,” Gibbs said in the report. “No one wants to spread COVID, the flu or even the common cold to their friends, classmates or colleagues. Please continue to stay home if you are sick. You will find that you recover more quickly from mild illness if you rest, drink plenty of fluids, and follow your doctor’s advice.