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Headlines for Thursday, October 15, 2020

Kansas Reports More Than 69,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 838 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) -   Kansas has reported its largest seven-day increases in both COVID-19-related deaths and new coronavirus cases. The state health department said Wednesday that Kansas had another 67 deaths since Monday to bring the pandemic total to 838. The state had 115 deaths over the previous seven days, for an average of 16 as day. The state also said it had 1,293 new confirmed or probable cases over two days to bring the the total to 69,155. The state averaged a record 743 new cases a day for the seven days ending Wednesday. 


Governor: Kansas Won't Jump into Local COVID-19 Hot Spots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she doesn't plan to have the state health department use its power to manage disease outbreaks by shutting down businesses or imposing other restrictions in local coronavirus hot spots. The governor's statement Tuesday went further than a public promise she made last month to top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature not to issue orders to close businesses statewide, as she did in the spring. She says that although the state will work with local officials in areas with big outbreaks to help them check the spread of the virus, it won't dictate the steps they'll take.


Federal Government Sends New "Paper Strip" Coronavirus Tests to Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —Kansas has received 100 thousand paper-strip COVID tests from the federal government, but is still figuring out how to distribute them.  The paper-strip tests are useful because a machine is not needed to get results. Health experts say the tests won’t catch as many cases as lab tests can, but are very effective in large numbers. A school, for example, might want to test half the students once or twice a week. That would take millions of tests across the state so experts recommend focusing on hotspots first and the state is figuring out which K-12 schools to prioritize. The federal government has begun sending the machine-free tests to Kansas nursing homes, too.


COVID Spike Arrives Late, Rural Kansas Counties Hit Hard 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Rural areas in Kansas are seeing large spikes in coronavirus cases, and Gove County in the northwestern part of the state has been among the hardest hit. The virus is stressing the county despite arriving late. Sheriff Allan Weber caught it himself last week and struggled to breathe. He landed in an acute-care hospital room more than an hour from home. Most of the local nursing home residents have tested positive, and six have died since late September. The county's emergency management director, the hospital CEO and more than 50 medical staff have tested positive. Local officials and doctors say they had 88 new cases in two weeks. 


Kansas Congressional Candidates Scuffle over Police Reform

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican state treasurer and Democratic Topeka mayor who are running for the open seat in Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District clashed over police reform and racial justice in a debate. Jake LaTurner, the state’s treasurer, was on the attack for much of the 30-minute debate, televised by KSNT in Topeka. The Kansas City Star reports that he accused Michelle De La Isla, Topeka’s first Latina mayor, of holding “radical” beliefs such as defunding police. De La Isla said she does “not support defunding the police” and called a LaTurner ad that suggested she was actively doing so in Topeka “distasteful and full of lies."


Racist Comments Flood Online Kansas State Diversity Event

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A virtual diversity event at Kansas State University was flooded with racist comments after a white student who caused an uproar earlier this year with a racist tweet about George Floyd shared a link to the Zoom call with his followers. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the executive board of the KSU Young Democrats blamed followers of Jaden McNeil for disrupting Tuesday’s KSUnite event in a tweet and demanded that he be expelled. A university spokesman told The Associated Press on Thursday that the disruption was so severe that the moderators had to disable the chat function for participants.


Prosecutors Ask Missouri Highway Patrol to Investigate Kansas City Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Prosecutors are asking the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate the police shooting of an unarmed Black man in Kansas City.  The Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor's office says that Kansas City police recently submitted the findings from their internal investigation into the shooting of 47-year-old Donnie Sanders. But prosecutors still want an outside agency to investigate. Police said at the time that Sanders had raised his arms "as though he had a weapon" as he ran away from a traffic stop. An officer ordered him to get on the ground and fired when Sanders didn't follow the commands. One of Sanders's sisters, Reshonda Sanders, said her brother had been released from the hospital one day earlier after undergoing hernia surgery and may have been moving slowly because he was in pain. The Kansas City Police Department is not naming the officer because no charges have been filed and department policy prohibits commenting on active cases.


In-Person Voting Begins in Kansas with Short Wait Times

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) - Early in-person voting has begun in several Kansas counties, with election officials reporting heavier than usual turnout but relatively short wait times to cast a ballot. Election offices across the state also began on Wednesday sending out the first batches of mail-in ballots to voters who requested them in what election officials anticipate will be record numbers amid the pandemic. The state's most populous counties won't start advance in-person voting for several more days, but a smattering of smaller counties that have begun are providing an early glimpse of what so far has been a smooth start to the general election in Kansas. 


At Least 147 University of Kansas Employees Take Buyout

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - At least 147 University of Kansas employees are taking an early retirement buyout this year as the school looks to cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer said in a message to faculty and staff members Wednesday that unit leaders across campus have asked to fill roughly 20% of the positions that will be vacated through the program. But she said discussions about which positions will be filled are ongoing, and many of the roles will remain vacant. The university announced the program in June because of anticipated enrollment drops that ultimately weren't as large as officials feared. 


Regents Tap Interim President for Wichita State University

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents ppointed a new interim president Wednesday to lead Wichita State University while it searches for a replacement for former President Jay Golden, who abruptly resigned last month without explanation. Wichita State Provost Rick Muma, who has been acting president since Golden resigned. He will immediately take on the job as interim president. Regents chair Bill Feuerborn praised Muma's experience and knowledge of Wichita State in a news release announcing the appointment. 


Kansas City Star Sues Overland Park for Access to Records in Police Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) — The Kansas City Star is suing the city of Overland Park to obtain the severance agreement the city entered into with the police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old John Albers in 2018 as he was backing out of his driveway. The Star requested the agreement under the Kansas Open Records Act but the city refused to turn it over. The city originally said the officer, Clayton Jenison, resigned from the police force for personal reasons. But it was later revealed the city paid him $70,000 in severance. Police were dispatched to the Albers home on January 20, 2018, after receiving a report that John Albers was suicidal. Shortly after they arrived, Albers put the van in reverse and, police say, was attempting to hit the officers. Officer Jenison fired 13 bullets at the minivan striking Albers six times. He died at the scene from gunshot injuries. The city paid $2.3 million last year to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Albers’ mother.

(–Additional Reporting–)

Newspaper Sues for Records in Kansas Police Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Star and its owner, The McClatchy Company, are suing a Kansas City suburb for records related to the 2018 police killing of an Overland Park teenager. The newspaper reports that the lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses city officials of violating the Kansas Open Records Act by refusing to release the resignation and severance agreement of former Officer Clayton Jenison. Jenison fatally shot 17-year-old John Albers as the teen was backing a minivan out of his family’s garage. Jenison, who was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting, soon left the department and was paid $70,000 in a severance agreement.


Police Say 3 Killed in Separate Crashes in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police in Kansas City, Missouri say three people were killed in separate crashes in a single morning. The first happened just before 2 a.m. Wednesday when a head-on crash in the south end of the city killed one driver. The second happened about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday when a Jeep lost control in the South Town Fork Creek neighborhood and hit a utility pole, then a tree, killing the driver. Minutes later, a motorcyclist was killed in a crash with a sport utility vehicle on Blue Parkway. Police say 86 people have been killed on city roads this year, compared with 78 fatalities in all of 2019. 


Kansas City Police Identify Body Found in Wooded Area of Swope Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are investigating the death of a man whose badly decomposed body was found in a wooded area of Swope Park. Police say officers were called to the area Monday evening and a person at the scene led officers to the body, which was located just off a road. Police say the body is that of 62-year-old Ronnie Lawrence. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition but investigators were able to determine that Lawrence had suffered significant trauma. Police are treating the death as a homicide. 

Kansas Audio-Reader’s Next Facebook Live Sale Set for Thursday, October 15

LAWRENCE, Kan.  (KPR) — The sale will feature audio equipment, including receivers, speakers and turntables as well as vinyl records. Darrel Brogdon, Kansas Public Radio program director and host of the "Retro Cocktail Hour," will also make a guest appearance with a specially curated selection of Retro Cocktail Hour vinyl records. Proceeds from the sale benefit Audio-Reader, a service organization providing free reading and information services for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The University of Kansas has ceased direct funding to Audio-Reader, making fundraisers like these virtual benefit sales vital to Audio-Reader’s operation. Funds from the sale go directly to helping Audio-Reader listeners stay connected with their communities and live a life of personal independence.  The Audio-Reader Network will also host a donation drive Saturday, October 17 at the Lied Center of Kansas in Lawrence. The public is asked to donate gently used audio equipment (modern and vintage), vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and musical instruments. More information is available at Audio-Reader's website:


Lawsuit Alleges Police Order Banished Missouri Protester

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a protester who was arrested and allegedly banned by police in Kansas City, Missouri, from participating in future protests or returning to the popular shopping and dining district where the protests were held. The ACLU of Missouri and MacArthur Justice Center sued on Thursday the Kansas City, Missouri, police commissioners challenging what they call an unconstitutional verbal banishment order. The lawsuit stems from a June 1 protest against police brutality and racial injustice at the Country Club Plaza. Theresa Taylor and about 100 others were arrested. Police spokesman Jake Becchina declined comment.


Bankers Survey Sees Surge in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A majority of bankers surveyed in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states are showing more enthusiasm for the state of their local economies than they have since the coronavirus pandemic began. The Rural Mainstreet Survey’s overall index surged to 53.2 in October, up from 46.9. in September and well ahead of the 35.5 reading in March, when the index bottomed out as the outbreak began. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Passing Fad: Mahomes-Led Chiefs Take on Allen-Led Bills

Two of the NFL's top passers face off in a rescheduled Monday night showdown, when the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs travel to play Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. Allen is enjoying a breakout start in ranking second in the NFL in yards passing, while Mahomes is fourth. The game was initially scheduled to be played Thursday night but pushed back after the Bills were forced to play Tennessee on Tuesday. Bills coach Sean McDermott faces his mentor and former boss in Kansas City's Andy Reid. McDermott broke into the coaching ranks in Philadelphia when Reid was Eagles coach.


Sporting Kansas City Beats Dallas 1-0

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Ryan Hollingshead scored in the 43rd minute, and FC Dallas snapped a four-match winless streak by topping Sporting Kansas City 1-0. FC Dallas returned after Sunday’s game against the Minnesota United was postponed because of a couple of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Sporting Kansas City had won three in a row. Bryan Reynolds crossed to Hollingshead, who shot to the near post to beat diving goalkeeper Tim Melia. Melia finished with six saves.

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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