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Headlines for Friday, July 24, 2020

 

Kansas Breaks 25,000 Total COVID-19 Cases, Including 326 Fatalities

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas health officials have recorded 25,109 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.  State health officials reported today (FRI) that the virus, now confirmed in 103 of the state's 105 counties, has also claimed 326 lives. Johnson, Wyandotte, and Sedgwick Counties have the most cases. The next update is expected Monday.      

(Kansas health officials release new data on COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

(–Related–)

Kansas Has Worst 7-Day Spike in COVID-19 Deaths Since June 1

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas has reported its worst week-long spike in COVID-19-related deaths since June 1 as the number of reported cases rose past 25,000. The state Department of Health and Environment said Friday that Kansas has had 326 deaths since the pandemic reached the state in early March. That's up 18 or 5.8% since Wednesday. The state has reported an additional 27 deaths over the previous seven days for an average of 3.86 a day. The last time the seven-day average was that high was June 1, when it was 4.14. Kansas also had 1,005 new reported coronavirus cases since Wednesday to bring the total to 25,109. 

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No Masks, Just Questions, in Kansas Counties with No Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Rawlins and Wallace counties in western Kansas are the only two of the state's 105 counties that haven't had a reported coronavirus case. Some businesses there aren't requiring customers to wear face masks, but a few are asking customers to tell them whether they have traveled outside the county. Business owners say they agree with local officials' decisions to opt out of an order from Gov. Laura Kelly requiring people to wear masks in public. But the two counties are among the 10 counties with the lowest testing rates in the state and a Rawlins County hospital spokeswoman says it's possible someone already has the coronavirus. 

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At Least 3 Large Kansas School Districts Will Open After Labor Day

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three of the largest school districts in the state have decided not to resume classes until after Labor Day, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders of the Wichita School District, the state's largest, voted Thursday to delay the return to school. That came after the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission districts in Johnson County announced their delayed openings on Wednesday, just hours after the Kansas State Board of Education rejected Governor Laura Kelly’s order to delay school. School officials cited concerns over providing for the safety of students and staff if schools opened as scheduled in August.  Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, school districts voted earlier to postpone their return to in-person education.

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Kansas AG: Local Officials Can Opt Out of School Mask Order

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he believes both counties and local school districts can exempt themselves from Governor Laura Kelly’s coronavirus-inspired order requiring schools to have staff and students wear masks. Kelly responded Thursday with a scathing statement saying Schmidt is wrong and that he and fellow Republicans have “only created more hurdles and uncertainty” during the pandemic. Schmidt said in an Associated Press interview that a law enacted last month allows counties to do so, and the state constitution gives local school districts the same authority. Kelly's order also requires schools to do daily checks for fever in all staff and students.  (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)

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KC Schools May Start Online; St. Louis Youth Sports on Hold

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) — The superintendent of one of Missouri’s largest school districts wants to start the school year with only online classes due to the virus outbreak. Meanwhile, St. Louis-area leaders are defending their decision to shut down youth sports in an effort to help prevent transmission of the coronavirus as cases rise among young people.  Kansas City Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell told the School Board Wednesday night that he also wants to wait until September 8 to begin the school year, which was supposed to start August 24.  In the St. Louis area, youth sports were halted this week, drawing criticism from some coaches, parents and facility operators.

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Kansas Senate Race Ads Approach $14 Million, Two-Thirds from PACs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s open Senate race has generated close to $14 million worth of ads. Two-thirds of the spending is coming from political action committees as establishment Republicans fight to keep hard-right conservative Kris Kobach from winning the GOP nomination. The Senate Leadership Fund aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched television and radio spots this week praising western Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall. The American Bankers Association’s PAC also began running a pro-Marshall television ad. The media tracking firm Advertising Analytics says Political committees are spending more than $9.3 million so far on ads. That compares to the candidates’ $4.6 million, the firm said.

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Kansas Rep. Watkins's Main GOP Foe Had More Cash in Mid-July

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Campaign finance records show that freshman Rep. Steve Watkins had less campaign cash than his main Republican rival as the GOP primary race entered its final 20 days. State Treasurer Jake LaTurner had about $379,000 in campaign cash on July 15, compared to Watkins’s $256,000. LaTurner raised nearly $173,000 in contributions from April 1 through Wednesday, including more than $10,000 after July 15. Watkins received $141,000 in contributions after April 1, including $1,050 on Tuesday. The race has been shadowed by felony election fraud charges filed against Watkins in Shawnee County District Court. The congressman has called those charges “bogus.”

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Trump Honors Former Track Star and Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has presented one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to Jim Ryun, a former Republican congressman and the first U.S. high schooler to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Ryun was the 1968 Olympic silver medalist in the 1,500-meter run and a three-time Olympian. Trump presented Ryun with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony Friday at the White House. In announcing the award, the White House described Ryun as one of the most accomplished American runners in history. Ryun was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1966, the year he smashed the world record in the mile at 3:51.3.

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Kansas Woman Arrested After Alleged Child Abduction Attempt

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old Kansas woman is jailed after allegedly trying to abduct a child. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shelby D. Parker of Topeka was arrested Thursday after a nearly four-hour standoff. Police were called at 12:15 pm to a report that a woman entered a home and stole something, then tried to kidnap a child. Police Sgt. Ron Ekis says the child's mother was able to thwart the abduction. Police say the woman then barricaded herself inside another home. She surrendered shortly after 4 p.m. The woman is jailed but it wasn't immediately clear if she has been charged.

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Topeka Therapist Arrested, Accused of Sex with Teen Patient

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka therapist at a treatment facility for at-risk girls has been arrested on suspicion of having sexual encounters with a teenage patient.  KSNT TV reports that 51-year-old Julie Herron was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of unlawful sexual relations with a patient. Investigators say Herron was a therapist at Florence Crittenton Services in Topeka when she began an inappropriate relationship with a resident there, who was 16 at the time, in 2015. Court records say Herron often took the teen off-site against facility rules and told the girl that sex was part of her therapy. The teen, who is now an adult, also says Herron raped her in a hotel room.

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Police Investigating Latest Shooting Death in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating Kansas City's latest shooting death as debate roils over a massive federal operation that has sent 225 additional federal agents from four different agencies into the city to combat violent crime. Police say the shooting happened just before 7 pm Wednesday in a residential area in southeastern Kansas City. Officers called to the scene found 35-year-old Lodiller Styles with gunshot wounds in the middle of the street. Styles died at the scene. Witnesses told police a pickup truck had sped from the scene. Police say a pickup that may have been connected to the shooting was found abandoned and wrecked a short distance away.

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Second Stolen Alligator Recovered in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The second of two alligators stolen from a Manhattan store in June has been recaptured. The 5-foot alligator was captured Thursday after it was seen sunbathing near Wildcat Creek. The owners of Manhattan Reptile World reported the two alligators were stolen in early June. One was spotted in Wildcat Creek days later but it ultimately drowned in a trap. The second alligator, named Beauregard, was captured Thursday when a member of a construction crew, Hunter Cragg, waded into the creek and grabbed it, after efforts to catch it with bait were unsuccessful. Officials don’t know who took the alligators or how they ended up in the creek.

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Kansas City Officer Shot in Head Released from Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City police officer who was shot in the head earlier this month left the hospital and will enter a rehabilitation center. The name of the officer, who was shot July 2, has not been released. Another officer shot and killed the gunman, 31-year-old Ky Johnson. Police spokesman Sgt. Jacob Becchina says the officer was released from the hospital Thursday. He will go to an out-of-state rehabilitation facility that focuses on brain injuries and neurological rehabilitation. The officer was shot while responding to a call that a man was waving a gun at a McDonald's restaurant in eastern Kansas City. Johnson's family said he suffered from a mental illness.

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Missouri Man Given "Time Served" for Threatening Missouri Senator

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) — A 38-year-old Missouri man was sentenced to time served and probation after pleading guilty to threatening U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri on Facebook. Federal prosecutors said Jeremy Cawthon, of St.Charles, agreed to a plea deal Thursday. He was sentenced to 16 months of jail time he already served and one year of supervised probation. Prosecutors say Cawthon sent several death threats to the Republican senator via Facebook in March and April of last year.  

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Hutchinson Woman Sentenced to Nearly 13 Years in Major Meth Bust

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 46-year-old Hutchinson woman has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for what the district attorney called the largest methamphetamine bust in the county during his 19 years in office. Jennie Rebecca Wallace was sentenced Thursday after authorities found a 5-pound package of methamphetamine in her home in January. The Hutchinson News reports Wallace was also convicted of making at least two drug sales from her home. Before her sentencing, Wallace apologized to the court, law enforcement and her family.

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Investigation Clears Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent; Two Troopers Dismissed from Duty

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The governor's office says an independent investigation into complaints of sexual harassment against Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Herman Jones found them to be unsubstantiated. Governor Laura Kelly also announced leadership changes at the Highway Patrol in which two top troopers are no longer employed with the agency after investigations cleared Jones. The governor’s office summarized the findings of an internal and independent investigation into complaints against Jones alleging sexual harassment in the form of unwanted physical contact and comments, misuse of state aircraft and gender discrimination. The investigation exonerated him of sexual harassment complaints and found his use of the aircraft and other actions appropriate.

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Kansan Who Abused Mentally Ill Patients Denied Early Release

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has refused to free an ailing inmate from Kansas who, along with his wife, was convicted of abusing mentally ill patients at their treatment center, including by forcing them to work naked and engage in sexual acts.  U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten cited the “particularly heinous nature” of the abusive treatment of mentally ill patients in a ruling this week to deny the request from Arlan Dean Kaufman for compassionate release from his 30-year prison sentence because of the pandemic. During their trial, federal prosecutors called the facility Kaufman and his wife operated a “house of horrors kept financially afloat by fraud.”

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Horse and Cattle Virus Outbreak in 20 Kansas Counties

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KPR)  — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has now identified positive cases of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in 20 Kansas counties in Kansas.  The virus affects horses and cattle.  The KDA's Division of Animal Health continues to respond to the VSV outbreak that began in south central Kansas in mid-June and has now spread to the north and east.  VSV is a viral disease which primarily affects horses, but can also affect cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas. At this time, the vast majority of confirmed cases of VSV in Kansas have been horses, although some cattle have also been diagnosed. KDA has advised the beef industry to be vigilant in monitoring their cattle for symptoms.  In horses, VSV is typically characterized by lesions which appear as crusting scabs on the muzzle, lips, ears, coronary bands, or ventral abdomen.  (Read more.)

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Police: Suspect in Wellington Homicide Turns Himself in

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Police say the suspect in a shooting death  in Wellington turned himself into authorities. Twenty-one-year-old Walter Edward Taylor III, of Wellington, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder. Wellington police chief Tracy Heath says Taylor is a suspect in the death of 34-year-old Travis Schneider, also of Wellington. Heath says Taylor was a passenger in a car driving next to a truck driven by Schneider Wednesday in Wellington. The two men got into an argument and Taylor fired one shot, which hit Schneider, who died at the scene. Taylor was arrested after he turned himself in. Heath says he's not sure what the men were arguing about.

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Sedgwick County Commission Modifies Health Department's Requirement for Bars to Shutdown

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Restaurants won’t have to close early in Wichita and bars won’t be shut down for as long as a local health officer had wanted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sedgwick County commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to make an order from the county health officer, Dr. Garold Minns, less restrictive before the directive takes effect on Friday. Minns’s initial order shut bars down until September 9. The county commission said the shutdown will last until August 21. The health officer directed restaurants serving alcohol to close at 12:01 am but the county commission removed that restriction.

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2 Kansas State Graduates File Lawsuit over Campus Closure

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas State University graduates say in a lawsuit against the university that they didn't get the education they paid for because the classes went online in the spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The students filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of all students affected by the closing of the Kansas State campus on March 16.  Similar lawsuits have been filed against universities across the country, including the University of Kansas. The Kansas State students, Noah Plank and John Garfolo, of Salina, said the university has not offered any refund of tuition or fees after classes went online. Kansas State officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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Kansas Man Dies in Montana Climbing Accident

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park has released the name of a Kansas man who died in a climbing accident in the park. Officials say 20-year-old Josh Yarrow of Wichita was mountain climbing off-trail Tuesday evening in the Logan Pass area when he fell while trying to retrieve a backpack. His 500-foot fall was witnessed by a climbing partner who went for help. Yarrow was spending the summer working for a business in the West Glacier area.

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New Charges for Former Massage Therapist for KU Female Athletes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/KNS) — A man who provided massages for female athletes at the University of Kansas is facing six new misdemeanor charges of sexual battery. The Kansas News Service reports that amended charges come after 49-year-old Shawn O'Brien was charged in February with a child sex crime, prompting Kansas to cancel its contracts with him. The university said in March that six female athletes told investigators they had experienced "unwarranted" touching during massages provided by O'Brien. The Kansas News Service reports the amended charges filed July 14  do not specify the alleged victims' genders or if they are current of former Kansas students or student-athletes. O'Brien's attorney declined to comment on the new charges.

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Hamlin Holds Off Keselowski for at Kansas Speedway; Emporia's Clint Bowyer Takes 14th Place

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Denny Hamlin raced to his series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season Thursday night, passing Kevin Harvick in the closing laps and holding off Brad Keselowski to make it back-to-back victories at Kansas Speedway. Hamlin had struggled the past three weeks, failing to finish better than 12th. But after showing good speed early, his Joe Gibbs Racing team made all the right calls during a crash-filled final stage to win in front of empty grandstands. Keselowski finished second and Martin Truex Jr. came across third. Harvick wound up sliding to fourth and Erik Jones, who hadn't been quiet all night, rounded out the top five to cap a banner night for the Gibbs boys.

Emporia native Clint Bowyer finished 14th.  “Man, we were so loose in the first two stages. We worked hard on it and got it better in the final stage," Bowyer said.  "I don’t know how the heck I didn’t wreck in that (Lap 177) big wreck. We got some damage then we dodged a couple more (wrecks) after that. It was a tough race, but nobody on our One Cure team gave up and our pit crew helped us out a bunch.  It’s good to be back in the top 12 in points. That will help our qualifying spot in New Hampshire. It’s always good to be back home in Kansas. I just wish we could have had the fans here.  We really missed them and ready to get them back to the track.”

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Big League Debuts for Royals Pitcher, Others to Be Made Without Family, Friends on Hand

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Brady Singer will make his big league debut on the mound for the Kansas City Royals in their second game Saturday in Cleveland. But unlike the thousands of players who have made it to the pinnacle of the sport, and were celebrated by tearful mom and dad and family in the stands, the culmination of Singer’s lifelong dream will only be shared by his teammates. When the decision was made to play an abbreviated 60-game major league season without fans, it meant that anybody making their debut this season would do so without their support system there to enjoy it.

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.  

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