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Headlines for Friday, July 2, 2021


Kansas Sees Another Surge in COVID Cases from Delta Variant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has experienced another surge in new COVID-19 cases from the faster-spreading delta variant heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The state Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that another 75 delta variant cases had been identified in Kansas since Wednesday for an increase of 26.5% to 358. Since Monday, the number of delta variant cases has grown by 136 or 61%. The state also has seen the average number of total new COVID-19 cases rise since June 23. Meanwhile, the department reported Friday that 39% of the state’s 2.9 million residents were fully vaccinated and 44.4% had received at least one of two required shots.


Kansas Battles Uptick in Delta Variant Strain of the Coronavirus

NEOSHO COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - The Delta variant has quickly become the dominant strain of the coronavirus found in Kansas. This variant is already fueling a wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Missouri and now, counties in southeast Kansas are trying to get their communities prepared.  At the beginning of June, Neosho County was down to zero active cases of COVID-19. Now, the county is starting to see a spike in infections thanks to the more-contagious Delta variant. Christy Hoerle is an epidemiology nurse with the county health department. She says the area has seen a slight uptick in vaccinations recently, but she wants more people to get their shots to avoid a new outbreak. "I don't think in our small little rural area that people totally understand the difference in the variants," she said.  "So education is going to be key to getting people to kind of understand what's going on and where we're at.”  Statewide, the Delta variant now accounts for roughly three quarters of new COVID cases.

Missouri Health Officials Battle Delta Variant

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - Health officials working to boost lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates in Missouri are growing anxious as the Fourth of July weekend approaches, creating ripe conditions for the fast-spreading delta variant to send hospital numbers climbing.  Missouri is second only to Nevada for having the worst diagnosis rate over the past week. And data from Johns Hopkins University shows that Missouri's seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has jumped over the past two weeks to nearly 900 new cases per day.  

Missouri Governor Urges Vaccinations Amid Spiking COVID-19 Cases

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Governor Mike Parson says the state wants to increase the vaccination rate for COVID-19. Missouri's vaccination rate lags behind the rest of the nation and the state is in the midst of a major surge in cases and hospitalizations. Missouri reported 854 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, one of the largest one-day totals since February. The state also reported nine new deaths. The increase is driven largely by a big jump in cases in southwestern and northern Missouri. Those areas have been hit hard by the fast-spreading delta variant. Hospitalizations have risen sharply over the past month, mostly in southwestern Missouri. State data shows 334 people are hospitalized in southwestern Missouri, compared with just 86 in mid-May. 

Kansas Starts COVID Campaign Amid Fears About Delta Variant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has launched public-service announcements Wednesday about COVID-19. The 30-second television spots reflect officials’ fears that people who travel over the Fourth of July holiday will return with the fast-spreading delta variant. One 30-second television spot features Kelly and another features her and U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, a fellow Democrat who represents the state’s portion of the Kansas City area in Congress. Both tell viewers that the coronavirus pandemic is not over; the best protection is to get vaccinated, and people should wear masks and social distance if they aren’t inoculated. Kansas reported 283 delta variant cases as of Wednesday, up 27.5% since Monday.


Former Kansas Secretary of State Sues Biden Administration over Immigration Policy

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ / KPR) - Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing a group of Texas sheriffs and police chiefs suing the Biden administration over its immigration policies.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the move comes just two months after Kobach launched a bid for Kansas attorney general.  Data from Customs and Border Protection officials show the most border crossings since 2006, with nearly 900,000 migrants stopped by officials between October 2020 and May of this year.  According to Texas law enforcement officials, illegal border crossings from Mexico into Texas have reached their highest level in 20 years. 

(AP version)

Kobach Representing Texas Sheriffs in Immigration Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kris Kobach is representing four Texas sheriffs and a law enforcement group in a federal lawsuit against President Joe Biden and his administration over a policy that discourages the deportation of some immigrants in the U.S. illegally. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a policy requiring federal officers to get a superior's approval before attempting to deport anyone who hasn't recently crossed the border or who isn't deemed a criminal or national security threat. Kobach also is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2022 after failed bids for governor in 2018 and the U.S. Senate in 2020.


Kansas Collected 9.3% More than Expected in Taxes in 2021 Budget Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections for its just-concluded 2021 budget year were 9.3% higher than anticipated. That left the state with its healthiest cash reserves in more than 25 years as the national economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The report Friday from the state Department of Revenue said the state collected $8.9 billion in general tax revenues for the budget year that ended Wednesday. That was $758 million more than it expected, even after state officials and university economists issued a new, more optimistic fiscal forecast in mid-April. The state began its 2022 budget year Thursday with cash reserves of $1.9 billion or more.


Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Convictions in Triple Murder Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the first-degree murder convictions of a man sentenced to 150 years in prison over a triple homicide in Kansas City, Kansas, duplex. The high court on Friday unanimously rejected arguments from an attorney for MonDale Le’on Douglas that the judge gave flawed instructions to the jury in his trial and that a new trial was warranted because a prosecutor appeared during closing arguments to express a personal opinion that Douglas was the killer. Douglas is now 31 and was convicted of the fatal April 2018 shootings of 51-year-old Edward Rawlins, 46-year-old David Rawlins and 40-year-old Addrin Coats.


Group Plans to Pressure Kansas Senator Jerry Moran into Dropping Support for Infrastructure Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — A dark money group founded by former Vice President Mike Pence’s ex-chief of staff plans to launch an ad campaign next week to pressure Kansas Sen ator Jerry Moran into dropping his support for a bipartisan infrastructure plan. The Kansas Republican stands for re-election in 2022 and is one of 21 senators who signed on last week to the $973 billion package negotiated with President Joe Biden. The Kansas City Star reports that the campaign from The Coalition to Protect American Workers is expected to feature television spots in the Wichita and Topeka markets. The anti-tax group was formed in March by former Pence chief of staff Marc Short.


Medicaid Expansion Takes Effect in Deep-Red Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tens of thousands of Oklahoma residents are now covered by health insurance as a result of Medicaid expansion in the state. The voter-backed expansion took effect on Thursday. As a result, Oklahoma is reaping federal bonus payments and staking a central place in the political debate over extending the program in every state. More than 123,000 low-income Oklahomans already have been approved for coverage in a state where nearly 15% of the population is uninsured. According to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, Oklahoma's uninsured rate is the highest in the nation behind Texas.


U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Could Help Kansas Defend Voting Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that narrows the federal Voting Rights Act could help Kansas defend election measures enacted by Republican state lawmakers.  That's the assessment from Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt.  The new state laws took effect Thursday and are being challenged in separate lawsuits in federal and state courts. Kansas law now limits the number of absentee ballots people can deliver to election officials on behalf of other people.  The new law also prevents out-of-state groups from mailing absentee ballot applications to voters. Supporters say the changes prevent fraud.  Critics argue that the new laws limit help for voters.


Kansas Group Suspends Voter Registration, Education Efforts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A voting rights group plans to pause its voter registration and education activities for fear of criminal prosecution under a new election law passed this year by the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature. The state voting rights organization Loud Light said in a news release that it will suspend its voter outreach efforts. The group says it will hold off on its efforts until a Shawnee District Court rules on its motion to block the law, which makes it a felony to cause someone to believe another person is an election official.


Group Offers Rewards for Reporting Animal Abuse Cases

UNDATED (KNS) - A Kansas group is now offering rewards to encourage people to report animal abuse. The Northeast Kansas Animal Welfare Foundation announced the Cruelty Stoppers Fund this week, which will pay for rewards for animal abuse reports that lead to arrests and convictions. Foundation President and CEO Bill Acree says people should report animal abuse to law enforcement because it’s often connected to other problems, like domestic violence and child abuse.  For now, the rewards are only available in northeast Kansas, but Acree says they may expand the program if they can raise additional funding.


Strong Growth Continues in Nine Midwestern, Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy continues growing at a strong pace in nine Midwest and Plains states.  The overall index for the region crept up to 73.5 in June.  Any score above 50 suggests growth.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the region is expected to keep growing and return to pre-pandemic levels early next year.  Business leaders said supply delays are causing problems in manufacturing and high inflation remains a concern. The monthly survey covers nine states, including Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.


Pilot Suffers Minor Injuries in Crash Landing Near Wichita

BEL AIRE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a pilot suffered only minor injuries when he was forced to make a crash landing near the Wichita suburb of Bel Aire. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the single-engine plane was flying from Nebraska to Kansas when it suffered a mechanical failure. Officials say the pilot — described as a Wichita man in his 30s — was trying to reach Jabara Airport in Wichita, but was forced to put the plane down in a field just northeast of the city. Officials say the rough landing destroyed the plane, but left the pilot with only minor injuries that were treated at the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.


New Study Touts Benefits of Cover Crops

UNDATED, (HPM) - Only one out of every 20 farmland acres in the Corn Belt has cover crops planted. According to a report from Harvest Public Media, a mountain of research shows the benefits of planting cover crops -- from sequestering carbon from the environment to keeping waterways cleaner. And yet, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group, only 4.8% of corn and soybean acres have them.  Soren Rundquist, director of spatial analysis for the EWG and a lead researcher, said, "This should be alarming to anyone who cares about clean water. Which should be every human, because we rely on it for survival.”  Rundquist says the low adoption rate falls in line with federal investment in cover crops… which has gone down over the past few years in the surveyed states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota.  


Man Who Infected 46 Patients with Hepatitis C Denied Release

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A former traveling medical technician who stole drugs and infected more than 40 patients with hepatitis C, including one who died in Kansas, will remain in prison after a New Hampshire judge called his request for compassionate release “the least meritorious” he’d ever seen. David Kwiatkowski was sentenced in 2013 to 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. At a hearing Thursday, a judge denied his request to be released from a federal prison in Florida, saying even if medical issues put him at high risk for COVID-19, releasing him early would undermine respect for the law.


GOP Congressmen Assail Kansas Governor over Border Security

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republicans are trying to pull Democratic Governor Laura Kelly into a national debate over border security as the GOP works to undercut her standing with voters ahead of her re-election bid next year. Republican Congressman Ron Estes has publicly urged Kelly to send law-enforcement resources to Arizona and Texas to help them with security along the border with Mexico. Estes and the state’s other two Republican congressmen sent Kelly a letter last week urging such action, and earlier this month, the Kansas GOP accused Kelly of being “silent” on border security. Kelly said the congressmen should focus on immigration legislation rather than what she called “political games.”


Authorities: Man Illegally Making Fireworks Led to Blast in Kansas City Suburb

RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) - Federal investigators say a man illegally making fireworks in his basement led to an explosion that leveled part of a suburban Kansas City duplex, killing him and injuring at least three others. A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tells the Kansas City Star that investigators came to that conclusion after sifting through the rubble at the explosion site in Raytown. Officials found the body of the man in the basement of the duplex hours after the explosion and fire Monday night. Authorities have not released the man's name.


Kansas City Man Charged with Murder in Plaza Hotel Killing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has been charged with fatally shooting a friend at a hotel in the city's upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district. 35-year-old Derell Thompson is jailed without bond on a charge of second-degree murder in the Tuesday morning shooting of Darron Mitchem at the Sheraton Suites County Club Plaza. Police say Thompson then fled with his 12-year-old son. Thompson also is charged with armed criminal action, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of a firearm.


Wichita Police Make Arrest in Last Month's Fatal Double Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Wichita have arrested a man suspected of pulling the trigger in a double shooting last month that killed one man and injured another. KAKE TV reports that officers arrested 39-year-old Jermall Campbell on Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm and gambling. He is being held on $1 million bond. Police say Campbell was still at the scene of the June 20 shooting inside a home when officers arrived and found 47-year-old Deandre Freeman shot to death. Police say a 53-year-old man also had been shot and was taken to a hospital. Police say five men were at the home when a disturbance broke out and Campbell fired several shots. 


Arma Man Sentenced for Killing Wife, Hurting Her Grandmother

ARMA, Kan. (AP) _ A southeast Kansas man has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for a 2019 stabbing that killed his wife and injured her grandmother. The Kansas Attorney General's Office says 34-year-old Jeremy Delmarco, of Arma, was sentenced Wednesday to 184 months for second-degree murder in the death of 36-year-old Brandy Delmarco. He was also sentenced to 43 months for attempted murder in the stabbing of Dorma Lemaster.  Delmarco had earlier pleaded no contest to the charges in Crawford County Court. Officers found the victims with stab wounds after Lemaster called 911 on February 4, 2019, to report that Jeremy Delmarco was assaulting her granddaughter. Brandy Delmarco later died at a hospital. Arma is located about 12 miles north of Pittsburg.


Area Closed After Partial Collapse of Historic Missouri Hotel

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) _ The partial collapse of a vacant hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, has led authorities to evacuate nearby businesses and apartments and close roads and sidewalks in the area. Officials say a corner section of the former Royal Hotel in downtown Excelsior Springs collapsed onto the sidewalk Wednesday afternoon. No one was injured in the collapse. The building is more than 120 years old and has been abandoned for about 20 years. Police say the building was scheduled to be demolished before the partial collapse happened. City officials say years of water leaking into the building from the roof likely led to the collapse.  Excelsior Springs is 30 miles northeast of Kansas City.


Truman Presidential Library Set to Reopen after Two Years

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — After nearly two years of renovations, the Harry S Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, is ready to welcome visitors again. The museum looks similar from the outside, but the inside has been completely reimagined in how it presents Truman's story and his legacy for the modern world. The nearly $30 million project is the most extensive since the museum opened in 1957. Work was slowed by the coronavirus pandemic. The new museum presents Truman's story from his Missouri childhood until his death. It has interactive exhibits and videos combined with hundreds of artifacts. Museum director Kurt Graham said a primary focus was explaining how decisions Truman made still affect today's world.


Jayhawks' Jalen Wilson Exits NBA Draft, Returns for Sophomore Season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson withdrew from the NBA draft on Friday and announced he would return to the University of Kansas for his sophomore season, providing more experience on the wing for a rebuilt team that should begin among the top five in the nation. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Wilson averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds last season, helping the Jayhawk men reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kansas is still awaiting decisions from Ochai Agbaji, who declared for the draft after his junior season, and Remy Martin, who intends to transfer from Arizona State should he withdraw from the draft.


These area headlines, compiled by KPR news staffers, are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and by 1 pm on weekends.  This news summary, free of pop-ups and ads, is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  


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