Phased Reopening Planned for Riley County

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Local leaders continue working on plans for a gradual step-down process to reopen businesses in the area when appropriate. The Unified Command Staff for the Riley County Emergency Operations Center has been meeting with officials from Geary and Pottawatomie Counties to balance plans for the entire region.

The reopening guidelines will be implemented by local orders once the Governor Laura Kelly’s Stay at Home Order is no longer in effect. The Riley County orders will be made available to the public after Governor Kelly announces new guidelines for the state, which is expected later this week.

“The local orders will continue to reduce the spread of the virus and will rely on a phased approach based upon testing capacity, local data, and contact tracing capabilities.” Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs said. “The goal will be to help the community reopen in a way that supports public health and safety as well as economic vitality.”

The Greater Manhattan Area Recovery Task Force has been created to allow area leaders to provide input on the planned approach. Both the recovery task force and the clinical task force will be an important part of the phased reopening decision-making process. The groups will provide recommendations to the public and private sectors to help with successful implementation of orders from the local health officer.

Local businesses that are allowed to reopen in the early phases of the process will still be required to follow best practices and CDC guidelines. For examples, please refer to the posted Best Practices on the Riley County website at

For more information about Riley County’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, visit the Riley County website at, follow RCHD on Facebook at and Twitter @RileyCoHealth.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.