Riley County health officials say USD 383 parents uncooperative with contact tracers

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Jun. 11—The Riley County Health Department said parents are reluctant to reveal information to contact tracers about recent sports-related outbreaks, officials said Thursday.

Local health officials said they've had "great cooperation" with the Manhattan-Ogden school district in response to "recent outbreaks" in the county, including school teams and area camps, but they are struggling with getting a full picture.

"While USD 383 was able to kind of close down some of the programs, we're still having issues with cooperation from parents, kind of letting us know where their kids were, who they were with, because that's the best way to contain any outbreak," said Alice Massimi, county spokeswoman.

The health department on Friday confirmed four outbreaks, including two that are almost expiring, but Massimi said the department is tracking more outbreaks.

An outbreak consists of five or more cases associated with a group, event or location.

She said some of the cases are involved in more than one outbreak, so the department is having difficulty determining the origin of them.

Of those confirmed, two are sports-related, one is associated with a private business and the fourth is associated with a governmental entity in Riley County.

The Manhattan High School football team paused activities because of coronavirus cases until June 15.

In addition, RCHD is prepared to respond to any possible spikes in coronavirus cases and administer vaccination boosters later this fall if the need arises, Massimi said. Although the emergency operations center is not meeting regularly anymore, Massimi said it is "ready to ramp up should that need arise."

"The health department as a whole is ready to ramp up efforts should boosters be needed come the fall or we see a spike because of variants or whatever else this coming fall," Massimi said. "So we're just kind of on standby right now."

Community members Thursday reflected on the coronavirus pandemic and its effects during the first in-person meeting of the Manhattan Area Recovery Task Force. Then-mayor Usha Reddi came up with the idea to create a task force to assist the community in the coronavirus pandemic response.

Riley County Police Department Director Dennis Butler reported to the group that a vaccinated employee tested positive for coronavirus.

"She was pretty surprised when it happened," Butler said. "We were surprised when it happened."

Butler said the employee's symptoms were mild. Riley County Police Department public information officer Aaron Wintermote said the person recovered from the virus after testing positive May 17.

Ascension Via Christi Hospital president Bob Copple, chair of the task force, said the hospital flew a coronavirus patient to the University of Kansas hospital Thursday. There were four positive patients in the hospital Thursday, all unvaccinated, Copple said.

The task force plans to meet once every two months moving forward.

The next meeting is planned for Aug. 12.

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