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Headlines for Thursday, November 12, 2020

 

UPDATE: Shawnee and Douglas Counties Tighten COVID Rules; Topeka Schools Headed Online

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Public health officials in two of Kansas's most populous counties have tightened restrictions on gatherings and public schools in the state’s capital city have scrapped at least two weeks of in-person classes in favor of online learning amid a surge in coronavirus cases. In Shawnee County, home to the state capital of Topeka, gatherings will be limited to 10 people, starting Friday. The limit on gatherings also will drop Friday to 15 from 45 in neighboring Douglas County, home to the main University of Kansas campus. The Topeka public school district announced that it would suspend in-person classes for at least two weeks, starting Monday.

–Related–

Kansas Sets More Records for COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) - Kansas has set records again for new coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations.  The state health department added nearly 5,700 coronavirus cases since Monday, pushing the statewide tally for the pandemic to more than 109,000 cases.  Kansas has been averaging about 2,400 *NEW* cases a day for the past seven days.  Hospital officials say ICUs were already full in some parts of the state. As of Tuesday, more than 800 people in Kansas were hospitalized with COVID. That’s about triple what it was two months ago.  Kansas is among nearly 20 states setting records this week for coronavirus cases.  Some local officials report having trouble getting people to cooperate in finding others who've been exposed to the virus.  Several counties report having trouble tracing who has been exposed to the virus because other people won't provide enough or even any information about their close contacts.

COVID-19 Forces Kansas Health System to Postpone Surgeries

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Doctors in the University of Kansas Health System have started postponing a small number of elective surgeries to free up bed space at its Kansas City, Kansas, hospital because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. KMBC-TV reports that doctors said during a Thursday morning video briefing that they’re working to see which patients can safely delay surgeries. The health system’s officials said it is having to turn away out-of-state patients because of a lack of space. State health department data shows that Kansas had a record daily average of 2,430 new confirmed and probable cases during the seven days that ended Wednesday.

–Earlier Reporting–

Kansas COVID-19 Cases Jump Again, Nearing 110,000; Deaths Exceed 1,200 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has now surpassed 109,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the state reporting more than 5,600 new cases since Monday. The state has now recorded 109,225 coronavirus cases, including 1,215 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began.  Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is urging all Kansans to wear face masks in public and to practice social distancing.  The next online update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected to be released Friday.

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Kansas Long-Term Care Facilities Facing More Trouble from COVID-19

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - Long-term care facilities in Kansas are fending off ever more coronavirus outbreaks. Haely Ordoyne runs The Centennial Homestead, a nursing home in Washington County near the Nebraska border with a top quality ranking from the federal government. She says Centennial easily passed a federal inspection of pandemic measures, but still the virus got in. Two dozen residents and staff tested positive over the past two weeks.  The number of ongoing outbreaks in Kansas long-term care facilities has tripled over the past three months.  That’s because COVID is surging in the broader population, with nearly 57 hundred COVID cases confirmed since just Monday.

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Missouri Hospitals Filling Up with COVID-19 Patients

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) - Record numbers of patients with the coronavirus are filling up Missouri's hospitals.  Many of these patients are requiring specialized treatment in intensive care unit beds that are becoming increasingly scarce across Missouri.  ICU capacity is down to 32% statewide, but just 28% in northwestern Missouri - and only 19% in the Kansas City area.

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Biggest School District in Kansas Scraps Plan for In-Person Classes for Middle, High Schools

WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The largest public school district in Kansas has scrapped plans to allow its middle and high school students to attend some in-person classes amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Wichita and across the state.  The Wichita school board decided this week that middle and high school students will continue to take classes remotely until the end of the semester. The district is also warning parents of elementary school students that grade schools may have to shift to full remote learning as coronavirus cases continue to surge in Sedgwick County.

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Missouri's State Health Director Hopeful Vaccine is Coming Soon

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Will a coronavirus vaccine be available before the end of the year?  Missouri's state health director seems to think so.  Randall Williams told a legislative panel that he thinks the first doses might come as soon as next month.  Williams told the House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that he expects Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be ready for limited distribution by mid-December. Meanwhile, the state health department cited 4,256 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 216,697 since the onset of the pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached yet another high, with 2,055 statewide.

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KU Providing Free COVID-19 Testing for People Returning to High-Risk Households

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The University of Kansas is offering additional COVID-19 testing options for certain campus community members who are preparing to head home after the end of in-person classes later this month.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that in-person instruction at KU will end on Tuesday, November 24, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, and students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester at that time.  In an email message to the campus, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said any students, faculty or staff members whose travel plans require a negative test — either mandated by an airline or their final destination — will be able to get tested. Additionally, any students, faculty or staff who are returning to a household with a person who is at high risk for complications from COVID-19 — as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — may receive a test. 

Testing will be available from November 16 to November 22 at KU Parking Lot 91, north of the Spencer Museum of Art. Those who qualify should not get tested, however, if they have previously tested positive for the virus within the past 90 days.  Qualifying individuals may receive a free saliva test by signing up for an appointment at covidtest.ku.edu.

After Thanksgiving, there will be a week for students to study for finals, which will then be conducted remotely, as they were during the spring 2020 semester.  KU’s spring 2021 semester will begin later than normal because of the pandemic, and it is scheduled to start February 1, with no spring break currently planned.

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Garden City Implements Mask Mandate

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KNS) - Garden City is getting a mask ordinance.  City leaders approved the measure Wednesday.  It does not apply to Finney County, just the city itself.  People or businesses who do not abide by Garden City's new mask rule will be fined $10 for a first offense.  That fine can increase to $50 for three or more violations.   

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Man Charged in Fatal Blue Springs Shooting Inside Restaurant

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - A man has been charged in the fatal shooting of another man inside a suburban Kansas City fast-food restaurant in what police say was a dangerous game between friends. Police say the shooting happened Monday night in a bathroom inside a Blue Springs McDonald's, killing 19-year-old Harry Bowers of Lee's Summit. Prosecutors charged 20-year-old Joseph Mayes with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. The Kansas City Star reports that Mayes allegedly told investigators he was at a urinal when Bowers pointed an unloaded gun at him and pulled the trigger. Mayes then reportedly pulled his own gun, pointed it at Bowers and fired, unaware there was a round was in the chamber. Prosecutors say this was a "game" the two often played.

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Police: 1 of 2 People Shot in Kansas City, Kansas Park Dies

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say one of two people shot over the weekend in a riverside park in Kansas City, Kansas, has died. Police say the shooting happened just before 1 a.m. Sunday in Kaw Point Park. Officers who arrived on the scene found two men with gunshot wounds. The victims were taken to an area hospital. A news release Thursday said that one of the victims — 23-year-old Juan Perez — died Wednesday from his injuries. Police say the other man, whose name has not been released, remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition. No arrests have been reported in the case.

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Man Who Said He Wanted to Kill Former Missouri Senator Arrested

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A man who claimed he was headed to Missouri to kill former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has been arrested in Utah.  Authorities say George William Stahl, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, made several threats against McCaskill and told authorities that he was going to kill her.  Utah Highway Patrol officers saw Stahl speeding more than 100 MPH early Wednesday morning and arrested him.

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Kansas City Woman Facing Charges for Fatal Hit & Run

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 22-year-old woman is facing several charges after a hit-and-run in Kansas City caused another woman's death. The Jackson County Prosecutor's office says Shabazz Frencher, of Kansas City, was charged with driving while intoxicated resulting in death or involuntary manslaughter.  She's also charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license. The crash in June killed 27-year-old Zahara Kathawalla as she crossed a street in downtown Kansas City.  Court records indicate Frencher was drunk and speeding when she hit Kathawalla.

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UPDATE -- Police: Arrest Made in Shooting Death of Man in Wichita Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say an arrest has been made in the shooting death of a 21-year-old man inside a Wichita home earlier this week. Television station KAKE reports that 18-year-old Leroy Gunter was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of first-degree intentional murder, aggravated assault and a weapons count in the shooting death of Christopher Bell. The shooting happened Monday afternoon at a home on the east side of the city. Bell was taken by a private vehicle to a hospital, where he died. Investigators say Bell was inside the home when a disturbance broke out, and several shots were fired, hitting Bell.

(–Earlier reporting–)

Police: 21-Year-Old Fatally Shot Inside Wichita Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 21-year-old man has been fatally shot inside a Wichita home. Police say the shooting happened Monday afternoon in a neighborhood on the east side of the city. Officers called to the home discovered that Christopher Bell had been shot there and had already been taken by a private vehicle to a hospital, where he died.  Investigators say Bell was inside the home when a disturbance broke out, and someone fired several shots, hitting Bell. Police say no one else inside the house was hurt. Police say they know the identity of the gunman, but had not announced that an arrest had been made.  

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Kansas GOP Senator Jerry Moran Plans to Seek Reelection

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Senator Jerry Moran plans to seek reelection in 2022.  A spokesman confirmed the two-term Republican senator's intent on Wednesday.  The 66-year-old Moran has faced questions about whether he'd seek to unseat Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in two years or even retire.  Moran was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving 14 years representing the 1st Congressional District of central and western Kansas.  That district also represents the cities of Manhattan and Emporia.  His campaign fund had more than $2.4 million in cash at the end of September.  

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Kansas Underground Railroad Barn Eyed for History Center

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — History buffs want to turn a Kansas limestone barn used in the Underground Railroad into a history center. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that history organizations pitched the idea to the Lawrence, Kansas City Commission this week. The barn was built in 1858 and was used to hide people escaping from slavery in Missouri. The city later used the barn as a fire station. The National Park Service officially recognized the site as part of the Underground Railroad in 2018. Now history groups are asking the city to turn it into an archival and digital research site.

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Plans for $75 Million Aquarium Approved for Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Zoo plans to build a $75 million aquarium.  This week, Kansas City's Board of Parks and Recreation approved spending $500,000 in capital improves to kick off the project.  The zoo hopes to open the aquarium by 2023.  Zoo executive director Randy Wisthoff says he hopes to complete designs and begin construction next year.  The Friends of the Kansas City Zoo, which has been working toward the project for six years, has hired a designer for the proposed 60,000-square-foot, 600,000 gallon aquarium that will include jellyfish and sea otter exhibits and will also house a giant octopus and sharks.

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Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid's "Tree" Extends to All Corners of NFL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Not long ago, NFL Films sat down with Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid to reflect on his four decades in football. The offensive mastermind affectionately known as “Big Red” had a rare opportunity to ponder his past. More than anything else Reid found himself thinking about the people in coaching that have meant so much to him, including the 10 that have joined him at the pinnacle of their profession. Five of them remain NFL head coaches, giving Reid one of the most successful "trees" in the coaching profession.

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Interesting Season for Big 12 QBs, and Not Necessarily Last

UNDATED (AP) — This has been an interesting season for Big 12 quarterbacks. Kansas State and Texas Tech changed starting QBs midseason for different reasons. There are true freshmen starting for both Big 12 teams in Kansas. No. 18 Oklahoma is led by redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler. The senior seasons for Sam Ehlinger at No. 21 Texas and Charlie Brewer at Baylor don't necessarily have to be the end of their college careers. They could take another season of NCAA eligibility because of COVID-19.

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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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