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Headlines for Sunday, March 22, 2020


Stay-At-Home Orders Start Next Week in Kansas City and St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials in Missouri's two largest cities are ordering a mandatory stay-at-home rule to residents starting next week in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  St. Louis authorities first announced the rule Saturday, which is to begin Monday.  By Saturday afternoon, officials in Kansas City and surrounding areas had announced a similar rule to start Tuesday.  The measure allows people to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors appointments, restaurants for carryout, to work for most businesses and to exercise outside.  At least three Missourians have so far died from the virus.  At least two people in Kansas so farhave died from the virus.


UPDATE: Statewide Total of COVID-19 Cases Rises to 67; at Least 28 Cases in Johnson County Alone

Earlier reporting...

Kansas Reports Second Death from COVID-19 as Cases Rise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A second COVID-19 death in Kansas has been confirmed, this one in the Kansas City suburb of Johnson County. State health officials revealed the death Saturday in a news release meant to update the number of new coronavirus cases in the state and did not give any details about the person who died. The state's first death from the virus, a Kansas City-area nursing home resident in Wyandotte County, was reported March 12. The state saw its number of confirmed cases in the state rise from more than 40 on Friday to 55 on Saturday.


Health Officials Identify Two More Travel-Related Cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced Saturday two new cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County, bringing the county’s current total to three. The new cases involve a woman in her 30s who recently traveled to the West Coast, and a man also in his 30s who recently traveled to England. Both patients are in isolation.  As part of disease investigation protocol, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health officials are now working to identify others who may have had close contacts with these individuals.  The patients will continue to be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued mandates earlier this week for the quarantine and isolation of travelers who visited places in the United States where the disease is present in large numbers. The first case in Douglas County announced on March 17 was a man in his 20s who had recently traveled to Florida. 

In an effort to stem the outbreak and promote social distancing, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino has issued 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 large gatherings including sports practices, games and tournaments and unnecessary social gatherings.

Dr. Marcellino has also strongly recommends that people:

  • Avoid non-essential trips and stay home as much as possible.
  • Practice good hygiene ad 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.


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


2 New Coronavirus Deaths Reported in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two more Missourians have died from the coronavirus, and the number of confirmed cases of the illness nearly doubled in one day. St. Louis County officials said Friday that a woman in her 60s who suffered from multiple health problems prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19 died. Officials don't yet know if she had traveled. On the other side of the state, Jackson County officials said a woman in her 80s had died. She had not recently traveled, raising concerns about community spread. The deaths were the second and third in Missouri.


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.


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.


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.


Body Found in Kansas Watershed Identified as 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.


Customers Cheer After Woman Gives Birth at Missouri Walmart

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Customers cheered at a Walmart in Missouri after a woman gave birth to a baby girl in the store's toilet paper aisle. Store manager Jessica Hinkle says the woman told employees Wednesday that her water broke. KYTV reports Hinkle held up a sheet for privacy while a labor nurse who happened to be in the store and firefighters helped the woman deliver her baby. Customers cheered as they were taken away to an ambulance. The birth took place as shoppers nationwide are converging on stores to stockpile toilet paper and other basics amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hinkle says she's told both mom and baby are doing well.


As Offerings Dwindle, Some Churches Fear for Their Future

NEW YORK (AP) — Across the United States, many in-person worship services are being canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, some churches are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in their programs and staff.  At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, the pastor says last Sunday's offering was only one-third of normal. A bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America says some of the 190 churches in his New York-area synod are unlikely to survive because of a double financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as pre-schools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.


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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