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Headlines for Saturday, December 18, 2021

Two Dead in Kansas Wildfires Fueled by Windy, Dry Weather

UNDATED (AP) - Authorities say two men have died in wildfires that erupted across Kansas earlier this week. Leoti officials say 84-year-old rancher and farmer Richard Shimanek died at a hospital after being burned while trying to fight a fire near his home on Wednesday. And the Ellis County sheriff's office says the remains of 36-year-old Derrick Scott Kelley were found near his burned truck. His fiancee reported him missing on Wednesday. They are the first confirmed fatalities from fires that erupted Wednesday in western and central Kansas, fueled by dry conditions and powerful winds. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned.

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Hospitals in Kansas, Missouri Report Spike in COVID Cases

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — An increase in COVID-19 cases has hospitals in Kansas and Missouri delaying surgeries, turning away transfers, holding patients in emergency rooms while they wait for beds to open up and desperately trying to hire traveling nurses. Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, said in a news conference with hospitals throughout the region that he is particularly alarmed that the surge is coming even before the omicron variant hits the region in full force. In Merriam, Kansas, the number of COVID-19 patients with active infections at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission tripled from 12 in mid-November to 37 as of Thursday.   

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Osawatomie State Hospital to Accept Voluntary Admissions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state plans to lift a moratorium on voluntary admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital beginning on January 3rd. The hospital for adults with mental health issues stopped taking voluntary admissions in 2015 after receiving citations for not doing enough to help suicidal patients and routinely housing three patients in rooms meant for two because of space limitations. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced the change on Thursday. As part of the plan, it created a new class of mental health providers called State Institutional Alternative, which will allow private psychiatric facilities to accept patients who have been approved for admission to state psychiatric hospitals.

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Man Sentenced after Hidden Shotgun Injures Wichita Officers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 46-year-old man has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after hiding a shotgun that went off and injured two police officers. James Hathorn was sentenced Tuesday after he pleaded guilty in September to four charges. Hathorn admitted that he was living with his girlfriend in a vacant house without permission. He wasn't there when officers went to the home in February to investigate a burglary. In his plea, Hathorn said he had hidden a modified shotgun in the side pocket of a recliner. One of the officers bumped the chair and the gun went off, seriously injuring two officers.

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