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Headlines for Friday, October 23, 2020


UPDATE: Kansas Reports More than 76,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 975 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials reported today (FRI) that Kansas has recorded more than 76,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment said the state now has 76,230 cases, including 975 virus-related deaths.  That's an increase of 1,774 coronavirus cases and 23 deaths since Wednesday.  Of all 105 Kansas counties, Johnson County has recorded the most COVID-19 cases, with more than 14,000.  The next COVID-19 summary will be released Monday afternoon. 


Kansas Coronavirus Positivity Rate Climbs Above 20%

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' coronavirus positivity rate has topped 20%, even as one GOP lawmaker pushed back against Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's call for a statewide mask mandate. Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said today (THUR) that a "one-size-fits-all COVID solution doesn't work for our diverse state." More than 90 of the state's 105 counties have opted out of the mask order. Kelly said Wednesday that she will speak with House and Senate leaders to develop a bipartisan mask requirement with more teeth. According to The COVID Tracking Project, the seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Kansas rose from 15.04% on October 7 to 20.64% on Wednesday.


Kansas City Nursing Home Has 140 COVID-19 Cases and Three Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Health officials say they are monitoring a Kansas City, Missouri nursing facility that has reported more than 140 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths since mid-September. Kansas City health officials said 98 residents and 44 employees at Garden Valley Healthcare Center have tested positive since the outbreak began about September 15. State health officials are requiring regular testing and infection control measures at the 156-bed facility. KSHB-TV reports a spokesman for Garden Valley's parent company said COVID-19 protocols, including restricted visits and regular screening of staff, have been in place at the facility since March.


Kansas Governor: COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Rural Areas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says the recent rise in coronavirus cases has started to worry the state’s hospitals. Kelly says two-thirds of the state’s COVID-19 cases are now outside of the Kansas City and Wichita metro areas -- most notably in Norton County, in northwestern Kansas. It has seen one of the biggest spikes in cases this month in the U.S.  Kelly also announced that Kansas has set aside $35 million in CARES Act funding for an eviction protection program.  Landlords and tenants must apply jointly and can receive up to $5,000 dollars per household to help cover missed rent payments.


Kansas Vaccination Plan Prioritizes Health Care Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A draft plan shows that health care workers and long-term care residents will be among those who will get the coronavirus vaccine first in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the state's 45-page plan was filed in the past week with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other groups that will be prioritized for the initial rounds of vaccinations include people with underlying medical conditions, people 65 and older and essential workers. State officials then will use advisory committees to help determine who should receive the vaccine next. The plan indicates that the state is taking input from groups representing individuals with disabilities, people of color, children and other demographics.


3.2-Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Rural Area on Kansas-Oklahoma State Line

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) - A magnitude 3.2 earthquake shook an area on the Kansas-Oklahoma line Thursday night. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the tremor struck at 8:17 p.m. and was centered in a remote area 22 miles northwest of Ponca City, Oklahoma, at a depth of almost 5 miles.The Kay County, Oklahoma Sheriff's Office says there were no reports of damage. Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years, with many linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production. Regulators have directed producers to close some injection wells


Police: 1 Killed in Shooting Near Youth Football Game

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating a shooting that left one man dead outside a Wichita sports stadium where a youth football game was being played. Wichita police say the shooting happened around 10 pm Wednesday inside the Stryker Sports Complex near a parking lot, but outside the stadium where the game was being played. Officers called to the scene for a report of a disturbance heard several gunshots and saw people leaving the scene. Police say a man injured in the shooting was taken to a hospital, where he died. His name has not been released. Police Captain Kevin Kochendorfer says more than 500 people were at the scene at the time of the shooting, making for a chaotic scene.


Wichita Police Officer Arrested, Accused of Stalking Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer has been arrested and faces a misdemeanor charge of stalking a woman he knew. The police department says Officer Ryan Jones was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail Tuesday evening following an investigation. Police requested that the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office investigate after learning of accusations that Jones might be stalking the woman. The Wichita Police Department says Jones has worked at the department for four years and has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations.


New Polls Show Kansas U.S. Senate Race Tightening

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Two new polls, one of them released Thursday,  show a close race for Kansas’ open U.S. Senate seat heading into the final week of the campaign.  The latest survey, from the New York Times and Siena College, shows Republican Roger Marshall leading Democrat Barbara Bollier, 46% to 42%. Four percent of voters support Libertarian Jason Buckley.  A poll released earlier in the week showed a tie at 43 percent between Marshall, a two-term congressman from western Kansas,  and Bollier,  a state senator from the Kansas City suburbs.  Slightly more than half of undecided voters in that poll said they intended to vote for President Donald Trump meaning they’re more likely to break for Marshall than Bollier.  Kansans haven’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since the Great Depression.


In U.S. Senate Debate, Democratic Candidate Says She Opposes Packing the Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier says she would not support adding additional justices to the U.S. Supreme Court or vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's plan to raise taxes on high-income earners if she's elected to Kansas' open U.S. Senate seat. Bollier made the comments during a televised debate Thursday evening with Republican nominee Roger Marshall. He described her as too extreme for their GOP-leaning state. Some Democrats say they want to add additional justices to the U.S. Supreme Court because conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett's likely confirmation would give conservatives a 6-3 majority. Bollier said she has "no interest" in adding justices. Marshall countered that many Democrats favor the idea.


Chamber of Commerce Sees Workforce Development Challenges in Rural Kansas

LAWRENCE Kan. (KPR) _ Kansas faces a long-term challenge of having enough workers trained to fill jobs. But a new report says it’ll be even more difficult to tackle the issue in rural areas. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce report says it’s a challenge providing job training in rural areas. To change that, it suggests partnerships between businesses and schools so students get on-the-job experience.  Keith Lawing leads the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, which helps connect young people with jobs. He says the experience helps them learn about careers they otherwise wouldn’t know about. “Like a bank, for example. All you see is the bank teller. You don’t know all the different career opportunities that are available in a financial institution.”  The report also suggests community colleges work closely with prisons so inmates can earn work certifications.


Kansas Corrections Officer Arrested, Accused of Domestic Battery

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Police in Riley County say a corrections officer has been arrested and placed on leave after being accused of domestic battery.  Officer Ace Thompson, with the Riley County Police Department, was arrested Wednesday night. The arrest came after a 28-year-old woman reported on Monday that Thompson assaulted her. Riley County police said the 33-year-old Thompson, of Manhattan, was booked into the jail on suspicion of domestic battery and criminal restraint. He has been released on $1,500 bond. The department says Thompson has been placed on administrative leave.


Prosecutors: Homeless Man Stole 22 Firearms from Kansas Store

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a 54-year-old man made holes in drywall to enter an Overland Park pawn shop and steal 22 firearms. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Darrin Taylor, who was homeless, was indicted Wednesday on one count of theft from a federally-licensed firearms dealer. The weapons were taken in September from the Penguin Pawn & Gun shop in Overland Park. Charging documents say employees reported the thief entered a business next door through a shattered glass window and then made several holes in the drywall between the businesses to get into the pawn shop.


Sunflower Farmers Expect Biggest Crop in Five Years

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Sunflower farmers in the U.S. are expected to produce their biggest crop in five years. The National Sunflower Association says the first production forecast for 2020 is 2.81 billion pounds, up 44% from 2019. North Dakota leads the country in sunflower production. The state forecast is 1.23 billion pounds, up 64% from last year. Higher yields are expected in five of the eight states in which sunflower production is tracked. Increases are forecast for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Decreases are expected in California, Minnesota and Texas.


Kansas Man Calls Balls and Strikes in World Series

LAWRENCE Kan. (KPR) _  A man from southwest Kansas was in charge of calling balls and strikes in Wednesday night’s Game Two of the World Series. Todd Tichenor, a native of Holcomb near Garden City, served as the home plate umpire in the matchup between the L.A.  Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s the first time in 71 years that a Kansas native has umpired a game in the Fall Classic. In 1949, it was man from southeast Kansas who got the call.  George Barr from the small town of Scammon, was in his last year as a National League umpire when he was selected to umpire the series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Fast forward seven decades and another man from another small Kansas town has been chosen. While working this year’s World Series, Tichenor only had to travel to one city: Arlington, Texas where the best-of-seven series is being held.  Thursday was an off day but Tichenor will be back in Arlington tonight (FRI) for Game Three.  The World Series is currently tied with both teams winning one game.


KU and K-State Prepare for Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan

LAWRENCE Kan. (KPR) _  The Kansas Jayhawks are still looking for their first win of the football season, and getting a victory this weekend in Manhattan will be a tall order as the Jayhawks head into the Sunflower showdown without one of their key players. KU’s fourth loss of the season came last weekend at West Virginia.  But the game wasn’t a blowout and it did provide some bright spots.  Jayhawks coach Les Miles marveled at the 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by KU running back Pooka Williams. But on the same day Williams announced he was opting out for the rest of the season because of family concerns. Williams was KU’s most versatile offensive player and scored 18 touchdowns through two-plus seasons. Meanwhile, Kansas State currently shares first place with Iowa State in the Big 12 standings.  Both teams are undefeated in conference play at 3-0.


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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