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Headlines for Monday, March 23, 2020

Several Large Kansas Counties Placed Under "Stay-at-Home" Orders

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS / KPR) -- Stay at Home!  That's the order going into effect for the Kansas City Metro, Lawrence and several other areas.  In fact, several of the largest counties in Kansas are ordering residents to “stay at home” beginning at midnight.  Among them are Douglas, Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.  The "Stay-at-Home" orders direct people to stay inside unless they’re buying food, going to the doctor, exercising -- at a healthy distance from others -- or taking care of other necessities.  “Essential businesses” will remain open.  Those essential businesses include grocery stores, post offices, pharmacies, gas stations, hardware stores and restaurants offering take-out and delivery services.  The "Stay-at-Home" orders will remain in effect for a month, from Tuesday morning until April 23.  (Read more about the Do's & Don'ts of the Stay at Home order.)

The Kansas News Service maintains this resource about the pandemic: Updated Regularly: What Kansans Need to Know About COVID-19 and Coronavirus   

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Kansas Stricter on Gatherings; Nearly 1 Million Told to Stay Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shelter-in-place orders are about to take effect for about a third of Kansas' population to slow the spread of coronavirus. Gov. Laura Kelly also announced Monday that she will tighten restrictions on public gatherings. Four counties with nearly 1 million of the state's 2.9 million residents are telling residents to stay at home starting Tuesday, except for essential business such as buying food or seeking medical care. They include Johnson County, the state's most populous county, two other counties in the Kansas City area, and Douglas County, home to the  University of Kansas. Kelly also said she will ban public gatherings of more than 10 people. 

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Douglas County Health Officer: Be Safe, Stay Home and Follow These Guidelines

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) –  In addition to the Stay at Home order which takes effect at midnight tonight (MON), Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino has issued other orders that include the prohibition of public gatherings of more than 10 people.  In addition, restaurants, dining facilities, bars, taverns, night clubs and movie theaters were ordered to close through April 1. Restaurants can still offer carryout, drive-through and delivery services.

Dr. Marcellino has also strongly recommends that:

  • Daycare centers close while schools are closed.
  • Retirement communities and long-term care centers limit visitors.
  • People avoid all kinds of social gatherings, especially those with 10 people or more.  

Dr. Marcellino has also strongly recommends that people:

  • Avoid non-essential trips and stay home as much as possible.
  • Practice good hygiene and frequently wash their hands.
  • Avoid touching their face. (Because the virus enters the body through the eyes, nostrils and mouth.)
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue.
  • Practice social distancing: Maintain six feet of space between themselves and other people IF they must go out in public at all.  Remember, a Stay at Home order will remain in effect for a month - from midnight tonight (MON) until April 24.

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Johnson County Records First Death from COVID-19

As of Sunday morning, nearly half of the total known cases of coronavirus in Kansas were located in Johnson County.  Over the weekend, officials reported the county’s first death caused by the virus. The death was reported on Saturday. The victim was a man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. He died at an area hospital and did not have a recent history of travel. Officials did not release further information about the man.  His death was the second coronavirus death in Kansas. The first was a Wyandotte County man in his 70s who lived at a retirement home. He died March 11.  So far, more than 70 cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide.  Two cases involved out of state visitors.  Missouri has recorded more than 100 cases.  But the numbers are constantly changing.  New infection numbers for both states are released daily.

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Kelly Issues Executive Orders to Improve Health Care Access

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents will be able to get medicine without an in-person visit to the doctor under a new executive order from Gov. Laura Kelly. Kelly on Sunday announced two new orders aimed at expanding health care access during the coronavirus crisis. She says in a statement that the orders “will make sure Kansas families can access needed care and supplies until we have weathered this storm.” Seventy-nine cases of the coronavirus are now confirmed in Kansas. They include two deaths, one in Johnson County and one in Wyandotte County.

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Kansas Governor Issues Executive Orders Related to Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) -- Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued two executive orders over the weekend, relaxing the rules around telemedicine and trucking in the face of the fast-growing coronavirus pandemic.  The first order allows doctors to prescribe medication after a video appointment. It also lets doctors who are licensed out of state practice telemedicine in Kansas. The order allows the state Board of Healing Arts to grant temporary emergency licenses to health care workers. The second executive order loosens regulations around trucks and buses that are helping with COVID-19 relief efforts.

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Kansas Agency Low on COVID-19 Test Kits; State Offers Loans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas health department's top administrator says it is "precariously low" on coronavirus testing kits. Dr. Lee Norman said Friday that the health department could be forced to rely on private labs and see delays in getting results. Norman said that testing wouldn't stop altogether if the agency ran out because it would hold back a few of its tests for infected people who've been hospitalized. Norman said private labs typically take longer to report results than the state's one day. His comments came the same day Kansas launched a new loan program to help businesses hit by the pandemic.

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Lawsuit: Kansas College Directed Coaches to Recruit White Athletes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that a small community college in Kansas directed its coaches to to recruit more white athletes and targeted black prospective students with excessive scrutiny such as background checks before offering scholarships. The ACLU alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that Highland Community College instituted a plan six months ago to reduce the number of black students at its campus in northeast Kansas. It contends the college's strategy included expelling black students for minor or bogus infractions and singling them out for dorm room and vehicle searches and other harassment.

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Kansas Lawmakers Pass Transportation Plan Seen as Stimulus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have approved a new, 10-year transportation program. Many lawmakers see the transportation bill approved Thursday as a much-needed,  $10 billion stimulus to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican-controlled Legislature made promising funding for highway, road and bridge improvements a priority as it tackled measures for addressing the new coronavirus and pushed to finish a $19.9 billion annual budget to keep state government operating after June. Lawmakers planned to finish what they considered their most pressing work before taking an early and unusually long spring break. The transportation plan had broad bipartisan support in both chambers.

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Pandemic Spurs Kansas Lawmakers to Rethink Governor's Power

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are likely to re-examine the power the governor has in emergencies once the immediate health threat from the coronavirus pandemic passes. Some Republicans say they didn't quite understand how much power the governor has in emergencies until Democratic Governor Laura Kelly closed K-12 schools for the rest of the spring and ordered a halt to new evictions and mortgage foreclosures. Conservative lawmakers fear how far Kelly might go to contain the spread of the virus and legislators are likely to consider a rewrite of state law once the immediate health crisis passes. Democrats say Kelly is acting to preserve people's health.

State lawmakers have extended a state of emergency prompted by the coronavirus crisis after making sure it gave the GOP-controlled Legislature oversight over the actions of the governor.  The Senate voted 39-0 and the House voted 115-0 Thursday to approve a resolution to extend the state of emergency until May 1 and to allow legislative leaders to extend it further every 30 days.  Governor Kelly declared a state of emergency last week, and without the resolution, it would have expired March 27. The Kansas health department says more than 50 people have so far tested positive for the virus in Kansas.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Bar Insanity Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says states can prevent criminal defendants from pleading insanity without violating their constitutional rights. The decision Monday could prompt states across the country to toughen standards for defendants who wish to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The justices' 6-3 decision came in a case from Kansas, where James Kraig Kahler was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, two teenage daughters and his wife's grandmother. Kahler wanted to mount an insanity defense, but Kansas, along with Idaho, Montana and Utah, don't allow it. Alaska also limits the insanity defense. 

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Body Found in Kansas Watershed that of Missing Atchison Man

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Police say a body found in an Atchison watershed dam in northeastern Kansas is that of a missing Atchison man. MSC Radio News reported that the body was found Friday afternoon. Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson identified the body as that of 47-year-old Joseph Leger Jr., who was reported missing Feb. 19. Investigators say he had not been seen since Feb. 5. Officers were called to the dam just after 2 p.m. Friday after someone spotted the body in the water. Wilson says the cause of death isn't yet known. An autopsy will be conducted in Kansas City.

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Kansas Policy Allows Bars, Restaurants to Sell Alcohol to Go

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas bars, breweries and restaurants with liquor licenses will be temporarily allowed to sell bottled beer and wine to-go during the pandemic. The policy was announced last week in a memo by the director of Alcoholic Beverage Control.  The policy applies to restaurants with liquor licenses as well as bars, clubs, farm wineries, micro-breweries, micro-distilleries and liquor stores.  Kansas rules are temporary and will continue "until further notice."

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'A Really Big Experiment': Parents Turn Teachers Amid Virus

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has thrust parents everywhere into the role of their children's primary educators. They've been left scrambling to sift through educational resources and juggle lesson plans with jobs and other responsibilities. Across the United States, more than 118,000 public and private schools in 45 states have closed, affecting 53 million students, according to a tally kept by Education Week. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has urged the state's more than 6 million schoolchildren and their families to make long-term plans, telling them few, if any, schools would reopen before the summer break.

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Lawsuit: Kansas College Directed Coaches to Recruit Whites

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that a small community college in Kansas directed its coaches to to recruit more white athletes and targeted black prospective students with excessive scrutiny such as background checks before offering scholarships. The ACLU alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that Highland Community College instituted a plan six months ago to reduce the number of black students at its campus in northeast Kansas. It contends the college's strategy included expelling black students for minor or bogus infractions and singling them out for dorm room and vehicle searches and other harassment.

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Southeast Missouri Hires K-State's Korn as Hoops Coach

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Southeast Missouri has hired Kansas State assistant Brad Korn as its new basketball coach. Korn had spent the past five seasons with the Wildcats, the past four as an assistant coach. He helped the school make three NCAA Tournament appearances and win a share of the Big 12 regular-season two years ago.  Korn takes over for Rick Ray. He was fired after going 51-104 over five seasons, including a 7-24 mark this past season. 

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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