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Headlines for Monday, April 20, 2020

 

Staff Member at Topeka Prison Tests Positive for Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The coronavirus has now been confirmed at three prisons in Kansas.  The latest case involves  the state's all-female facility in Topeka.  State officials confirmed today (MON) that a worker at the Topeka Correctional Facility tested positive for the virus.  The prison would only say the staff member is a male over the age of 20.  State and county health officials performed contact tracing to find out who had recently been in close contact with the infected staff member.  A state prison in Lansing was the first correctional facility in Kansas with a confirmed case. It now has 47 staff members and 40 inmates who have tested positive.  One inmate tested positive at the Wichita Work Release Facility, but that inmate has since been moved to the Lansing facility.  The Topeka Correctional Facility is the state’s only all-female prison, with a capacity of 948 inmates.

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UPDATED: Kansas Reports Nearly 2,000 Cases of COVID-19, Including 100 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —  As of 11 am Monday, state health officials reported 1,986 cases of COVID-19, including 100 deaths. Cases have been reported in 69 counties.  Most COVID-19 cases are in the Kansas City and Wichita areas -- Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth and Segdwick counties. But one of the Kansas counties with the fastest-growing number of cases is Ford County, in southwest Kansas.  One week ago today (MON), the Dodge City area had fewer than 20 cases.  It now has 180.  The new total comes just two days after a federal judge struck a blow against Governor Laura Kelly's executive order limiting religious services to 10 worshipers. Saturday's ruling from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita prevents the enforcement of the governor's order against First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City.

Top Six Kansas Counties with Most COVID-19 Cases

Wyandotte County = 427
Johnson County = 377
Sedgwick County = 248
Ford County = 180
Leavenworth County = 135
Shawnee County = 92  

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COVID-19 Erupts at Kansas Meatpacking Plants

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (HPPR / KNS) — Southwest Kansas has the majority of the state’s meatpacking plants. One county also has the 4th-most coronavirus cases in the state.  In just one week, Ford County - home to Cargill and National Beef plants - went from 17 cases to 180.  In Seward County, which has a National Beef plant, cases rose from 10 to 79.  And Finney County - with a Tyson plant - is nearing 40 cases.  National Beef and Cargill have said there are cases among their workers, but county health departments have not shared data.  State Health Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, says counties are in charge when it comes to releasing that information.  Meatpacking plants in several states have had to temporarily close because of coronavirus cases.  

(-Related-)

Kansas Works to Boost Testing in Meat Processing Towns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —   Kansas has received more personal protective equipment and supplies to expand COVID-19 testing in communities with meat processing plants. Governor Laura Kelly says the supplies will go to Finney, Ford and Seward counties in southwest Kansas and Lyon County in east-central Kansas.  Cargill, Tyson Fresh Meats and National Beef all say employees at their plants have tested positive.  State health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking clusters connected to the packing plants.

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Kansas Universities Had Serious Budget Problems Before Coronavirus and May Ax Even More Staff

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW / KNS) — Kansas colleges will soon get millions in federal money to help with the ripple effects from the coronavirus, but educators and experts say it’s not nearly enough.  The roughly $2 trillion CARES Act, meant as a life preserver for the national economy, added higher ed to the list of its beneficiaries. The government said half of the $13 billion for public and private universities must go to student grants. But the need is greater than that: Some students have lost the ability to pay hefty tuition bills — not to mention rent or groceries — and universities have lost revenue sources on top of already-strained budgets.  Without another stimulus boost from Washington, campus leaders and experts say Kansas’ colleges and universities must make two tough choices: which students to help and which employees to cut.  (Read more here.)  

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AMBER Alert Called Off After Nebraska Children Located Safe in Wichita

TEKAMAH, Neb. (AP) - Police in southeastern Nebraska say two young boys who were the subject of an urgent Amber alert Monday have been found safe in Wichita, Kansas. An Amber alert was issued Monday morning in Nebraska for the two boys, ages 7 and 4, who were taken from Tekamah.  The alert was later extended to Kansas. Tekamah Police Chief Dan Jacobs says the man accused of taking the boys was a step-grandparent and was caught and arrested in Wichita after a police chase.  Jacobs says the boys were found safe in the man's vehicle.  

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Kansans Less Likely to Get Tested for the Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — People who live in Kansas are less likely to get a coronavirus test than in any other state and that has some residents worried.  Mary and Gary House live in southeast Kansas. Gary is 79 and a lawyer. Before the pandemic he met a lot of people in the course of a normal day.  “If I had a jury trial in a criminal case, they may bring in 70 or 80 prospective jurors to question. So you’re just around a lot of people," House said.  He and his wife want to see widespread testing before Kansas lifts its stay-at-home order, due to expire May 3.  Governor Laura Kelly says she does, too. But so far supply shortages have meant only about 6 in one thousand Kansans have been tested.

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Kansas Receives Large Shipment of Faulty Masks

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —  In its search for protective gear and coronavirus testing supplies, Kansas received a large shipment of masks that aren’t up to snuff.  Kansas Health Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, says the state purchased more than 270,000 masks that were falsely advertised as N95s. The masks came from China.  He says the masks are a different model that filters only about 10% as much as the N95. Norman says the state was able to modify the masks.  “So they actually might end up working, but it will take more than a little labor to convert those,” Norman said.  The state will prioritize using masks that are already adequate, but he said, the state will prepare the other masks for use if necessary.  

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Hospitals in Wichita, Manhattan and Pittsburg Start Stocking Groceries as a Service to Employees

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW / KNS) — Ascension Via Christi hospitals in Wichita, Manhattan and Pittsburg are now stocking grocery items in their cafeterias to save employees a trip to the store.  Calvin Poe, with Touchpoint Support Services, says the "groceries-to-go" program offers convenience and some hard-to-find supplies during this pandemic.  Poe says kitchen staples like milk, eggs, soup, pasta and more are for sale, including toilet paper.  Poe says the hospitals are considering keeping the grocery program around as a regular service, even after the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

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U.S. Attorney: Kansas Awarded $6 Million to Address Covid-19 Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  (KPR) — The U.S. Attorney for Kansas, Stephen McAllister, has announced that the state of Kansas will received $6 million in Department of Justice grants to respond to public safety challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  The grant was made available under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump.  In addition, $3.2 million has been allocated for local jurisdictions in Kansas. The Justice Department is moving quickly, awarding grants on a rolling basis and aiming to have funds available for drawdown as soon as possible after receiving applications. “This money can be used to support a broad range of activities to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus,” said McAllister. “That includes overtime, supplies such as gloves, masks and sanitizer and addressing the medical needs of inmates in prisons, jails and detention centers.”

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Topeka Officer Who Was Being Dragged Shot and Wounded Driver

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Topeka police officer shot and wounded a motorist after he drove off during a traffic stop and began dragging the officer. Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran said both men suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening in the Sunday afternoon shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the car's driver was undergoing surgery at a Topeka hospital, while the officer was treated at the scene and was to receive further treatment. The men's names weren't being released.

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Officer Shoots, Kills Man at Kansas City Area Walmart

RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City area police officer shot and killed an man at a Walmart. Raytown police Capt. Dyon Harper said the officer was in uniform and working at the store in an off-duty capacity Saturday night when an armed man entered the store. Harper says the officer then “encountered the man and shots were fired.” The Kansas City Star reports it wasn’t immediately clear what led up to the shooting or where exactly in the store it happened. The man died at the scene. Police did not immediately release his name.

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Police: Woman Arrested in Wichita Home Where Body Found

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW-TV) —  Police say an armed woman in her 20s has been arrested after a standoff in a Wichita home where the body of a man was found by officers. Television station KSN reports that the standoff began around noon Sunday when officers were sent to a convenience store for a report of a woman suspected of robbing it. Police Captain Windell Nicholson says responding officers spotted the woman at a nearby intersection holding a gun, then heard a gunshot and saw the woman run into a home. Several hours later, the woman came out of the house and was arrested. Inside, police say they found a man in his 60s dead from injuries to his upper body.

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Man Charged in Wisconsin Brothers' Deaths to be Arraigned

KINGSTON, Mo. (AP) —  A Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin is scheduled to be arraigned next month. Garland Joseph Nelson, of Braymer, waived his right last week to a preliminary hearing in which the judge could hear the prosecutor's evidence against him and decide whether it was sufficient for him to stand trial. Instead the 10 felony charges against Nelson will be formally read at his May 4 arraignment. Among the charges are two counts each of first-degree murder in the deaths of 35-year-old Nick Diemel and 34-year-old Justin Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin.

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Wichita Man Charged in Death of 18-Year-Old Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  A Wichita man has been charged with fatally shooting an 18-year-old while she was riding in a car with her boyfriend and brother. The Wichita Eagle reports that 32-year-old Joshua Johnson was charged today (MON) with first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm in the April 13 death of Aubrey Resendez. His bond is set at $300,000. Police said it started with a disturbance between the occupants of the car in which Resendez was a passenger and a stolen pickup truck. Shots rang out, shattering the rear window of the car. Resendez was struck and died at a hospital. Her 18-year-old boyfriend and her 27-year-old brother weren't hurt.

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Spirit AeroSystems Bringing Back Some Furloughed Workers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A major aircraft parts supplier in Kansas is expected to bring about 2,100 furloughed workers back to work next week as Boeing prepares to resume production of its commercial airplanes. The Wichita Eagle reports that Spirit AeroSystems also is planning resume work for more than 1,700 other workers in Wichita over the next three weeks. Boeing said Thursday it will restart production of its commercial airplanes next week in the Seattle area after operations were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Police: Woman Arrested in Wichita Home Where Body Found

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW-TV) — Police say an armed woman in her 20s has been arrested after a standoff in a Wichita home where the body of a man was found by officers. Television station KSN reports that the standoff began around noon Sunday when officers were sent to a convenience store for a report of a woman suspected of robbing it. Police Captain Windell Nicholson says responding officers spotted the woman at a nearby intersection holding a gun, then heard a gunshot and saw the woman run into a home. Several hours later, the woman came out of the house and was arrested. Inside, police say they found a man in his 60s dead from injuries to his upper body.

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Kansas Changes Prison Health Providers Amid Ongoing Concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will soon have a new medical provider in state prisons. Officials announced Friday that they had signed a new contract for medical services amid mounting frustrations with its current provider. The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a news release that it awarded Centurion of Kansas LLC a contract that begins July 1. The announcement comes a week after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly criticized the health care provided by Tennessee-based Corizon Health.  Kelly said she shared concerns expressed by inmates and staff about the level of care from Corizon.

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Longtime Kansas Newspaper Publisher Dave Seaton Dies at 80

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Dave Seaton, the longtime former editor and publisher of the Winfield Daily Courier and a member of a prominent newspaper family, died Saturday. He was 80. His son, David Allen Seaton, confirmed that his father died at the hospital in Winfield. He said his father's health had been failing and that he had undergone heart surgery about a year ago. His son described his father as "a lion in community journalism in Kansas.''

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Former Defensive Lineman for KC Chiefs Dies at 52

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR / KNS) — A former defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs died unexpectedly on Sunday.  Pellom McDaniels was just 52 years old.  After his football career ended, McDaniels became a professor and author, among other things. McDaniels spent six seasons with the Chiefs, playing for Kansas City from 1993 to 1998.  After his NFL career, he stayed in Kansas City until 2007 as a history professor at UMKC, involved with local organizations like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He lived the final years of his life in the Atlanta area.  

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Kansas Moves one Step Closer to Commercial Hemp Program

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The process of establishing a new commercial hemp program in Kansas has taken a critical first step. The Hutchinson News reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the plan by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to change the state's research-based commercial hemp program to a commercial program. This approval makes it possible for farmers to grow hemp without being under the umbrella of a research program. Once this program is approved by the state, farmers will not have to make formal research proposals in order to grow the non-hallucinogenic crop. But the program must jump through several more hurdles to change status. These include state-based rules and regulations.

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Court Finds Lawrence Police Coerced Teen's Statements

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are trying to decide how to proceed after an appellate agreed that self-incriminating statements made by a teen in a Lawrence rape investigation should be tossed, finding that the interrogation was "almost like a therapy session." The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Court of Appeals agreed this month with a Douglas County judge who found that the high school student's 2017 statements to police were not made "of a free and independent will" and couldn't be used against him. The appellate court noted that the teen was encouraged to let out everything he'd been "holding inside" and was not initially told he was suspected of rape.

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Lawsuit: Christian Health Care Ministry Was Deceptive to Missouri Residents

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) — A class action lawsuit alleges that a Christian health care sharing ministry sold unfair and deceptive health plans to Missouri residents and failed to provide them with coverage. KCUR Radio reports the federal lawsuit against Aliera Companies and Trinity Healthshare comes as millions of people who are unable to afford private insurance are attracted to the low prices offered by health care sharing ministries. Aliera says its marketing materials make clear that their programs are not health insurance.

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Lawsuit: Let Missourians Vote Absentee During Virus Crisis

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by civil rights groups seeks to allow all Missourians to vote absentee in upcoming elections to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the coronavirus. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and several residents. It claims that requiring voters to appear at a traditional polling places during the pandemic puts their lives at risk. Missouri law allows absentee voting, but only for people with certain reasons, such as illness or travel on Election Day.

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As Mail Voting Pushed, Some Fear Loss of In-Person Voting Option

ATLANTA (AP) — Election officials in some states are scaling back or eliminating opportunities for people to cast ballots in person in favor of voting exclusively by mail, as an effort to address concerns about voting during a global pandemic. But some states are moving so quickly that voting rights groups say they run the risk of disenfranchising groups of voters. Those groups include people with disabilities, people who need language assistance, lack regular mail service or are simply unable to keep up with last-minute election changes. Democrats have joined the fight, filing a lawsuit in Nevada to force the state to open more polling sites for its June primary.

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