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Headlines for Monday, September 28, 2020

COVID-19 Case Total in Kansas Approaches 59,000, Includes 637 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has identified more than 58,500 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment reported those figures Monday. Kansas has now recorded 58,629 cases, including 637 deaths. Another update on case numbers will be released later Wednesday.
 

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Kansas Has Another COVID-19 Spike; Counties Worry About Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of the tests for the virus during that period coming back positive. The continued spike in confirmed and probable cases Monday comes as officials in some Kansas counties worry that they won’t be able to spend some coronavirus relief funds before the end of the year as federal law requires. The state health department says Kansas had 2,037 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday to make the total 58,629. Kansas had an average of 667 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday.

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1,500 Kansas Mail Ballots Arrived Too Late to Count

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Election data shows more than 1,500 Kansans did not have their votes counted in the August primary because their mail ballots arrived too late, but many of them were uncounted because voters didn’t mail them on time. A 2017 state law that aims to mitigate the impact of mail delays allows ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted as long as they are received in local election offices within three days. That means that ballots postmarked on or before August 4th would have been counted had they arrived by August 7th. 

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KU Reverses No-Fans Policy for Fall Sports

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The University of Kansas will welcome back fans at sporting events starting next month. Chancellor Douglas Girod announced that about 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend the October 3rd KU football game against Oklahoma State.  Masks will be required at all times, all stadium seating will be reserved to ensure proper distancing, and tailgating will not be permitted on campus.  In making the announcement, Girod emphasized the decision to host fans can change at any time.  University and local health officials will meet after the October 3rd football game and make adjustments as needed.

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Coronavirus Throws Wrench into Missouri Governor's Race

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The coronavirus pandemic is a top issue in the Missouri governor's race. The virus stalled Republican Governor Mike Parson's campaign after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week. A debate between Parson and Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway that was scheduled for last Friday has been canceled. Missouri State Auditor Galloway says Parson hasn't done enough as governor to fight the virus. She says she would implement a statewide face mask mandate if elected. Parson has long opposed a statewide mask requirement and leaves decisions on school closings and mask rules to local leaders. 

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Trump Supporters Hold Truck Parade in Kansas City 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) —Hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump gathered at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri for a “truck parade” Saturday afternoon. The Trump backers drove down Main Street to the Country Club Plaza, where they were met by anti-Trump counter-protestors. Multiple fights broke out on the Plaza between the two groups before police officers stepped in and made seven arrests. 

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Some Kansans Still Have Not Completed the 2020 Census Questionnaire

SAN JOSE, Cal. (KNS) - About 99 percent of Kansas households have filled out the 2020 Census but that means tens of thousands of Kansans could still be left out.  Since the federal government uses Census tallies to determine funding for everything from libraries to water infrastructure, a 1 percent undercount could cost Kansas as much as $600 million dollars by the time there’s a new count in 2030.  The Trump administration attempted to set a stop date for the Census count at the end of September, a month earlier than originally planned, but a federal judge ruled last week that the collection must continue until the end of October. 

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Kansas Capitol Meditation Room Moved to Create Staff Space

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has moved a Kansas Statehouse meditation room created by Republicans as a place for prayer and reflection to a less-visible space to create more room for her staff. The new meditation room is on the northwest side of the building’s basement floor, down an out-of-the-way hall. The meditation space previously was on the Statehouse’s second floor, where Kelly and her staff have their offices. Kelly spokeswoman Lauren Fitzgerald says the change ensures that the governor’s staff can follow social distancing. But Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican and frequent Kelly critic, suggested the governor “increased government so much that staffers need to take over a long-standing room for prayer.”

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Junction City Woman's Death Being Investigated as Homicide

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City police are investigating a woman's death as a homicide. Police say Carolina Almendarez Marquez was found dead inside a Junction City home Saturday night. No cause of death was given and an autopsy is scheduled. Police arrested Michael Chavez in the case a few hours after Marquez's body was found. He is a relative of Marquez. Chavez was booked into the Geary County Detention Center awaiting his first court appearance. No other details were released.

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Man's Death at Garden City Motel Ruled a Homicide

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City police are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man at a motel as a homicide. Officers were called to the Sunflower Inn Sunday morning and found Alec Cantu dead on the floor of a motel room. Police said in a news release that Cantu's body showed signs of trauma and it was apparent an altercation had occurred in the room. Before Cantu's body was found, officers responded to a call about an abandoned vehicle in the Arkansas River. Police say the car was registered to Cantu and had been vandalized. The investigation is continuing.

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Protests Cost Wichita Police About $1.5 Million in Overtime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department spent more than $1.5 million in overtime for officers and other employees to monitor protests in the city in early June. The department implemented a plan to ensure public safety during social justice demonstrations that began after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The demonstrations stayed calm in Wichita except for two nights in early June, when police cleared protesters after vandalism and looting. The Wichita Eagle reports the plan ran from June 2 to 14, with police employees claiming more than $30,000 in paid overtime hours and more than 5,500 hours of compensatory time.

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City of Lawrence Settles with Black Driver Shot by Rookie Officer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence has reached a settlement with a Black driver who was shot by a police officer in 2018. The driver, Akira Lewis, filed an excessive force lawsuit after he was shot during a traffic stop. In court documents filed Friday, the city agreed to pay Lewis $80,000.  Under the settlement, neither the city nor Lewis accepted liability in the shooting. Lewis was shot by a rookie officer who said she meant to use her Taser but drew her gun instead. He said the traffic stop was racially motivated. The city contended Lewis caused the shooting by refusing to get out his car and fighting with officers.

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Murder Charges Filed in 2016 Triple Homicide in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say capital murder charges were filed Monday in the 2016 triple homicide of a man, woman and unborn child at a Topeka apartment complex. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay said at a news conference that 38-year-old Yanez C. Sanford was arrested Monday in Independence, Missouri. The Topeka Capital Journal reports Sanford faces charges linked to the shooting deaths of 23-year-old Dominique Ray, 20-year-old Camrah Trotter and her unborn son, Uriah Trotter. She was in her third trimester of pregnancy.  He faces charges of capital murder, first-degree premeditated murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.

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Kansas Mother, Four Children Killed in Collision with Semi

VIOLA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas mother and her four children were killed after hitting a semitrailer loaded with grain in southwest Sedgwick County. The Wichita Eagle reports that 32-year-old Jessica Noel of Viola was driving a Ford Expedition shortly before 5 p.m. Friday when authorities say the driver of a semitrailer loaded with grain ran a stop sign while headed east. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the Expedition struck the trailer, causing it to split into two pieces. Noel and three of her children all died at the scene. Another child died after being taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

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15-Year-Old Boy Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police are investigating the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy. Police spokesman Dustin Dierenfeldt says officers were called to the Rosedale area of the city Saturday evening after gunshots were heard. The officers found the teenager suffering from several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police are investigating the death as a homicide but no other details have been released.

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Study: Some Kansas Hospitals Charge Commercial Health Insurance Companies Double the Rate of Medicare

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas hospitals charged commercial insurance more than twice what Medicare would have paid, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation think tank. Kansas employers and workers overall got better prices than was typical nationally but prices varied widely among hospitals. The bills from the University of Kansas Medical Center Hospital and Overland Park Regional Medical Center totaled as much as four times the Medicare rate. Hospitals are criticizing the report. KU Hospital says it serves 52,000 inpatients and nearly 2 million outpatients each year, yet RAND looked at fewer than 700 of the facility's medical claims. RAND says it used what claims it could get from employers because hospitals and insurers keep their negotiated prices secret.

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Child Welfare Advocates Propose Independent Agency to Track Foster Care System

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Child welfare advocates in Kansas are pushing for an independent agency to monitor the state’s troubled foster care system. The nonprofit group Kansas Appleseed has proposed creating an Office of the Child Advocate to investigate complaints and evaluate the state agency overseeing foster care. The nonprofit failed to get state lawmakers to vote on a bill to create the agency during the 2020 session of the Kansas Legislature, but the group has the support of some lawmakers to push again in 2021. Opponents say the money would be better spent on existing programs that monitor the system.

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Kansas City Weighs Another Bid to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A year after a divisive fight that ended with Kansas City removing Martin Luther King Jr.'s name from a prominent boulevard, the city is trying again to find a way to honor the civil rights icon. Parks officials in Missouri's largest city say they will use lessons learned from last year's debate to ensure citizens are comfortable with the process. But two public hearings held last week on a new street naming proposal suggested reaching a solution will not be easy. Some speakers supported the proposal, while others wanted more extensive honors for King and some said naming a street for him was pointless.

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KC Police Officer Shoots Man After Pursuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer shot and wounded a man. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the man was driving away Saturday from a home where police had gone in response to reports of a violent incident. Officers pursued the man. He crashed his vehicle and fled on foot until they reached a fence. The highway patrol, which is aiding in the investigation, say the man turned and pointed a black object at the officer and that's when the officer fired his weapon. The suspect was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A gun was found at the scene.

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Wichita State University President Resigns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University President Jay Golden has resigned after less than a year in the job. The Kansas Board of Regents did not say why Golden stepped down in announcing the move Friday.  Wichita State University received national attention and plenty of criticism in June for dropping a virtual speech by Ivanka Trump for its technical school graduation. Kansas Board of Regents member Jon Rolph told The Wichita Eagle that Golden’s resignation was not related to the Ivanka Trump controversy. 

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Two Missouri Officers Suffer Minor Injuries in Shootout

PECULIAR, Mo. (AP) - Two police officers in the northwest Missouri town of Peculiar were shot during a standoff Saturday night. The Cass County Sheriff's department says the officers were treated and released after the confrontation in Peculiar. Sheriff's spokesman Major Kevin Tieman says the officers responded to a report of a male with a shotgun. At some point during the confrontation, the officers and the suspect exchanged gunfire. The suspect was not injured. Negotiators talked to the man for about two hours before he was taken into custody. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation. 

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Royals Season Ends with a Win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) — The Kansas City Royals ended their 2020 season with a 3-to-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. It was also the final game for left fielder Alex Gordon. Royals manager Mike Matheny says he pulled Alex Gordon out of the game after his first at-bat because of an ominous weather forecast. Gordon, batting leadoff, said he was swinging for a home run on the game’s first pitch. Gordon holds the franchise record for leadoff home runs with 14. But he struck out in his last at-bat. The No. 2 overall pick of the 2005 Draft, Gordon won seven Gold Glove Awards as the Royals' left-fielder. The Royals won 12 out of their last 18 games to finish the 60-game season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic with a 26-34 record.

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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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