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Headlines for Friday, May 8, 2020

Kansas GOP Leader Pushing Medicaid Plan Not Running Again

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Republican legislator who worked with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on a plan for expanding Medicaid in Kansas is not seeking re-election. Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning said Friday that it’s time for him to focus again on his wife and business. The Overland Park Republican is the retired CEO of an eye care and optical surgery company and was expected to have a tough re-election race this year. Denning has been majority leader since 2016. He helped block Medicaid expansion in 2019 but drafted his own plan in October and worked with Kelly on a bipartisan proposal that stalled. 

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Kansas Reports More than 6,500 COVID-19 Cases, Including 152 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — As of Friday morning, Kansas health officials reported 6,501 cases of COVID-19, including 152 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 82 of the state's 105 counties.  (Get the latest Kansas numbers here.)  

Counties with the Most Cases of COVID-19

Ford County (Dodge City) - 1,027
Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kansas) - 1,001
Leavenworth County (Leavenworth) - 907
Seward County (Liberal) - 668
Finney County (Garden City) - 677
Johnson County (Overland Park) - 583
Sedgwick County (Wichita) - 438
Lyon County (Emporia) - 323    

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Kansas Official Pushes Sterilization of N95 Masks for Reuse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s top public health official is encouraging medical personnel to sterilize N95 masks for reuse to preserve their supplies. State health department head and Dr. Lee Norman on Friday discussed the state's making sterilization equipment available as coronavirus cases increased another 5.8% and the state prepared to update the public less often about the virus’s spread.  Norman said the health department is borrowing massive sterilizing equipment for six months from an Ohio-based research company. The equipment is in a state warehouse south of Topeka and can process 10,000 masks a day.  He announced his department would update case numbers only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

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Southwest Kansas Counties Split on Reopening

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas health officials report more than 6,100 COVID-19 cases statewide -- many of those cases are associated with meatpacking plants in Liberal, Dodge City and Garden City in southwest Kansas.  Two counties - Seward and Ford - have decided to follow the governor's plan to reopen, despite the large number of coronavirus cases tied to meatpacking plants in those counties.  But the Finney County Health Department in Garden City has decided to extend the stay-at-home order through Sunday.  County commissioners will meet today (FRI) to discuss further action.  All three counties combined have more than 2100 COVID-19 cases.  Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall says the area is still too much of a hot spot to reopen.  Marshall announced this week that Kansas will get 550,000 N95 masks and 13,000 Tyvek suits. He also says a hospital in Liberal received two new ventilators, bringing the total to about a dozen.  

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More Kansas Families Turn to Food Banks for Assistance

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Those who operate food assistance programs across Kansas say they are serving hundreds of additional families that are now struggling financially due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.  Kansas Food Bank CEO Brian Walker told the Wichita Eagle that the increased need comes at a time when donations are down.  Last week, the food bank began surveying 164 partner agencies across the state.  According to the results of the survey so far, Kansas Food Bank officials think there's been a roughly 30% increase in need due to the pandemic.  And, they say, the need isn't going away anytime soon, even as businesses begin to reopen and some employees return to work.  

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Violent Week in Kansas City Metro: 7 Dead in 5 Days

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ It's been a violent week in Kansas City... and the week isn't quite over.  The Kansas City Star reports that seven people died in the metro over a five-day period.  The killings include an 18-year-old shot in a vehicle, a homicide committed outside lofts in downtown KC, a fatal police shooting and two men allegedly killed by one shooter.  Three homicides were also reported this past week on the Kansas side of the metro - in Johnson County.  Data maintained by the Kansas City Star shows there have been 60 killings so far in 2020, compared to 48 at this time last year.

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Judge Dismisses Missouri Lawsuit over Meat Worker Safety

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a Missouri meatpacking facility over employee safety. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays ruled that oversight of the Smithfield Foods plant's measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus falls to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, not the courts. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said Wednesday his agency is working with OSHA on that. The issue of worker safety has loomed large as President Donald Trump ordered plants to stay open amid the virus crisis. Some big grocers this week began limiting meat sales. Perdue said consumers should soon see the meat supply “fully back up.”

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Kansas Gets Federal Money for PPE for Use During Elections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas voters will encounter election workers wearing masks and seated behind plastic panels when they head to the polls this fall.  Voters will also use disposable stylus pens to cast their ballots.  Secretary of State Scott Schwab says the state is getting $4.6 million in federal aid to prepare for the election, with $2.6 million going to county election officials.  The state also plans to spend $1 million on personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, face masks and disposable gloves.  Each polling site also will receive two plexiglass shields to protect election workers and voters.  

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Coronavirus Cited in Spike in Wichita Drive-By Shootings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Drive-by shootings are up sharply in Wichita so far this year, and Police Chief Gordon Ramsay believes boredom stemming from the coronavirus lockdown is partly to blame. The Wichita Eagle reports that Ramsay spoke in a Facebook video Tuesday. Ramsay says drive-by shootings are up 82% compared to the five-year average. Ramsay says many of the shootings involved young people, and he noted that with recreational centers closed and many restaurants closed, many youths have a lot of idle time. He also cited an uptick in crimes like vandalism and domestic assault.

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Kansas Man Banned from Providing COVID-19 Related Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man already banned from doing autopsies in Kansas is now barred from providing services related to the coronavirus pandemic. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday he has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Shawn Parcells, of Leawood, from offering any services related to the human body. Schmidt says Parcells formed new businesses and websites offering consulting on the coronavirus that violated the state's consumer protection laws. Parcells' attorney says he won't appeal the temporary restraining order. Last year, Parcells was accused of performing illegal autopsies and billing for autopsies he didn't conduct. He is facing criminal charges and a lawsuit over those autopsies.

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Governor's Top GOP Critic in the Kansas Legislature Wants to Curb Governor's Power

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's top Republican critic in the Legislature has launched an effort to curb the governor's power during emergencies.  Senate President Susan Wagle also wants to impose oversight over the spending of federal coronavirus aid and force Governor Kelly to provide tax relief to struggling businesses.  Wagle is a Wichita Republican and a candidate for the U.S. Senate.  She announced yesterday (THUR) that she's directing the chairs of four Senate committees to have meetings ahead of May 21.  That's the last and only other day the Legislature is set to be in session this year. Democratic leaders see Wagle's move as partisan.

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NCAA and KU Still Arguing over Alleged Recruiting Violations in Men's Basketball Program

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The NCAA struck back at the University of Kansas and its men's basketball program Thursday, calling five Level I violations that are alleged to have occurred "egregious" and arguing that they undermine and threaten" college athletics. It was the latest in a series of back-and-forth filings that set up a likely infraction hearings. KU denies any wrongdoing whatsoever. The case came out of an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. It centers on whether two Adidas representatives were acting as boosters for the Jayhawks when they paid prospective recruits to lure them to the program.  

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Top 2020 Kansas Candidates Get Lots of Out-of-State Donations

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The top two contenders in a U.S. Senate race in Kansas -- and competitive congressional races -- will be getting the majority of their money from out-of-state donors. That's according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. The Kansas City Star reported Democrat Barbara Bollier and Republican Kris Kobach have received roughly two-thirds of their individual contributions from non-Kansan donors. The amount excludes donations from political action committees. Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids and Republican Congressman Steve Watkins have also received donations from out of state. Both are top targets for the opposing party in 2020. Kansas Republican chairman Mike Kukelman says he's concerned that so much money is flowing into the state.

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Wichita Worker Pepper-Sprayed by Robber

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An employee of a payday loan business in Wichita is recovering after an armed robber doused the man with pepper spray. Police say the crime happened Thursday afternoon at a Check N’ Go business. The robber, wearing a scarf over his face, demanded that the 49-year-old worker open the cash drawer. During the crime, police say, the employee suffered minor injuries after being doused in pepper spray. The robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a car.

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50,000 Missourians Filed New Claims for Unemployment Benefits Last Week

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) - State labor officials say more than 50,000 Missourians filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week. While still a high number, it marked the third straight week of declines in claims. More than 495,000 people have filed new unemployment claims since March 21. St. Joseph officials say an employee of a Missouri pork plant where hundreds of workers tested positive for the coronavirus has died from the virus. The city said the man, who worked at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, had underlying health conditions. Missouri on Thursday reported 9,341 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which is 239 more than on Wednesday. Missouri's COVID-19 death toll rose by 22, to 418.  

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Trucker from Iowa Charged in 1990s Slayings of 3 Women; Suspect Once Lived in Missouri

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Investigators in Iowa have arrested a former long-haul trucker suspected of killing two women in Wyoming and a third in Tennessee in the early 1990s. Police arrested 58-year-old Clark Perry Baldwin on Wednesday at his home in Waterloo, Iowa, on warrants from Tennessee and Wyoming charging him in the three killings. He’s being held in the Black Hawk County jail pending extradition proceedings. The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation says in a news release that “advances in technology” linked Baldwin to the crimes. He's charged in the 1992 killings of two unidentified women in Wyoming and the 1991 slaying in Tennessee of a pregnant woman, Pamela McCall, and her fetus.  According to the Des Moines Register, federal authorities are looking into other cold cases to see if there is a link to Baldwin.  He previously lived in Nashua, Iowa, and Springfield, Missouri, where he worked as a cross-country truck driver for Marten Transport.  

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Kansas Crews Search for Man Who Tried to Swim in Walnut River

AUGUSTA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities in Butler County are searching for a 19-year-old man who went missing while swimming in the Walnut River. KWCH-TV reports that the search began Wednesday near Augusta. The Butler County Sheriff's Office said the man was with at least two other people walking along the river when he decided to go for a swim and jumped in near the Osage Street dam. A woman who was with the man told authorities he never resurfaced. Search crews remained on the scene overnight. The man's family has been notified but his name has not been released.

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Missouri River Flood Risk Down as Levee Repairs Proceed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Crews working to finish fixing levees busted in last year's deluge are getting some help from the weather. John Remus, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Thursday that it is "much better shape" than a year ago. The flooding last spring along the Missouri River and its tributaries inundated thousands of acres of farmland in parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. Among 61 levees approved for repair in an area spanning from Rulo, Nebraska, to the mouth of Mississippi River, about half have been restored to the height they were before last spring's deluge. Upstream of Rulo, all but one levee has been restored to pre-flood height.

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Four MLS Teams Allow Individual Workouts, Including Sporting Kansas City

UNDATED (AP) — Four Major League Soccer teams have taken the first small step toward returning to play by allowing players to use team training fields for individual workouts. Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and Inter Miami had players in on the first day they were allowed by the league. Nashville, LAFC, Real Salt Lake, Houston and Portland are among the league's 26 teams that plan to start Thursday, with more lined up for individual workouts next week.  

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Big 12 Schools Intend to Open in Fall, Giving Hope that College Football Will Return

UNDATED (AP) — All 10 schools in the Big 12 Conference expect their campuses to be open in the fall, a key step toward launching fall sports. Conference commissioners have stressed to Vice President Mike Pence that college sports cannot return until campuses reopen. The football season is slated to begin August 29, though Big 12 schools don't begin play until the following week.

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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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