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Headlines for Thursday, October 29, 2020

 

Virus-Plagued Northwest Kansas Nursing Home Loses Federal Funding

NORTON, Kan. (KNS) - A nursing home in northwest Kansas has lost its Medicare certification after a report found staff members didn’t do enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus. At least 10 residents at the facility have died.  The federal government found workers at the Andbe Home in Norton didn’t use proper protective equipment.  According to the Kansas City Star, an observer saw workers not wearing masks even after six residents had died from the virus. The facility also didn’t properly isolate people who were sick.  All 62 residents of the home eventually tested positive for the coronavirus.  Norton County has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the country, with more than 550 cases among its roughly 5,500 residents.

(AP version)

Virus-Plagued Kansas Nursing Home Fined, Set to Lose Medicare Funding

NORTON, Kan. (AP) - A nursing home in northwest Kansas - where every resident has tested positive for the coronavirus -- is losing its federal Medicare funding.  The lack of masks among workers at the Andbe Home in Norton was cited this week in a scathing report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  The agency says the nursing home faces nearly $15,000 in fines and that it will lose Medicare funding effective November 18.  Sixty-one residents of the home and about three dozen staff members have been infected, and at least 10 have died.

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Finney County Sees Dramatic Rise in COVID Cases

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KNS) - Finney County in southwest Kansas has a coronavirus positivity rate of 31%. County commissioners say they still recommend mask wearing, social distancing and other virus precautions, but they’re not likely to institute a mandate.  Colleen Drees is the head of the county health department. She says the virus isn’t confined to a few clusters, but is spreading widely across the community.  In recent weeks, the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas has accelerated in rural areas, particularly in Norton and Sheridan counties in northwestern Kansas.

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Garden City's Tyson plant Will Replace Federal Inspectors with Its Own Workers

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KNS) - The Tyson beef plant near Garden City, in southwest Kansas, expects to replace some federal inspectors with its own workers next year.  Reuters news agency reports that about 15 Tyson workers per shift at the Finney County plant will inspect carcasses before they’re sent through the butchering line.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave Tyson a waiver to replace some of the federal inspectors with its own plant workers in March, but that got delayed by the pandemic.  Chicken and pork plants around the country have made similar moves, which are supposed to help with efficiency. Critics say it’s another case of deregulating the meat industry.

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Kansas Sees Surge in Virus Cases; Governor Not Dropping Idea of a Mask Mandate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has set new state pandemic records for reported coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly said Wednesday she hasn’t dropped the idea of calling the Republican-controlled Legislature into special session to impose a statewide mask mandate. The state health department added nearly 3,400 cases since Monday to its running tally for the pandemic to bring the total to 82,045. The rolling average was 1,084 for new, reported cases and 35 for hospitalizations for the seven days ending Wednesday. The department switched recently to an automated system for tracking cases but even without that change boosting numbers, the state would have had a record average for new cases.  The Kansas City Star reports that the number of coronavirus deaths in the metro area, which includes Kansas City and counties in Missouri and Kansas, is at 176 in October, the most of any month.

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Kansas Governor Unveils COVID-19 Testing Plans

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has announced details of a statewide plan to rapidly increase the number of coronavirus tests in the state. The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases are surging across Kansas.  Kelly plans on using federal coronavirus relief dollars to double the state’s testing capacity. That could mean 400,000 additional tests by the end of the year. The governor says that will let Kansas do more screening tests at schools and high-risk locations like nursing homes.  “This is especially important for populations at high risk but also for businesses across the state worried about keeping their workforces safe and their doors open,” Kelly said.  Kansas reported hundreds more cases between Monday and Wednesday than it saw in the same three-day period last week.  The highest rates of infection now mostly come from rural counties and western Kansas.

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Kansas Reports More than 82,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 1,007 Virus-Related Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state has now recorded more than 82,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  Kansas has also surpassed 1,000 virus-related deaths.  KDHE released the latest numbers Wednesday, reporting 82,045 cases of COVID-19, which includes 1,007 deaths.  This marks an increase of 3,369 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths since Monday.  The next online update of COVID-19 cases will be released Friday afternoon.

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Missouri Experiencing COVID-19 Surge 

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) _ The new surge of the coronavirus is evident in Missouri, with record hospitalizations in St. Louis, Columbia, and the Kansas City metropolitan area experiencing its worst month ever for COVID-19 deaths. The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Wednesday reported 72 hospital admissions in one day. Admissions have risen dramatically over the past month.  In Columbia, a record 95 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.  The Kansas City Star reports that the number of coronavirus deaths in the metro area, which includes Kansas City and counties in Missouri and Kansas, is at 176 in October, the most of any month. 

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Coaches, Athletes Across the Nation Mourn Loss of Legendary Kansas Football Coach

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Coaches and athletes across the country are remembering Dick Foster, who won national championships at both Fort Scott Community College and Coffeyville Community College.  Foster died last week at his home in Lawrence.  He was 86. According to the Montgomery County Chronicle, Foster is one of only two coaches in community college history to win national titles at two schools. Foster's career winning record of more than 87% over the span of 16 years put him in the highest echelon of coaches at all levels of college football.  Among his career highlights was coaching future Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier. He also coached 30 future NFL players, as well as 47 NJCAA All-Americans. Foster also served as an assistant football coach at both the University of Kansas and Oklahoma University.  Private family funeral services for Dick Foster will be held Saturday in Lawrence.

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Kansas Man Gets Life Sentences for Killing Pregnant Woman

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to two life sentences for the killing of a pregnant Kansas mother who was found dead on Christmas Day in 2018. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says 35-year-old Dion Jamal Green was sentenced Wednesday to two consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole for the December 2018 deaths of 31-year-old Jenna Schafer, of Junction City, and her unborn child. Early in the case, prosecutors had said Green was hired to kill Schafer, who was found dead in a Junction City apartment on Christmas Day 2018.  But a second man arrested in the case and accused of hiring Green, later had charges against him dropped.

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60 People Charged in $300 Million Phone Scam Targeting Elderly Victims

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Sixty people have been charged in a widespread magazine telemarketing scam that authorities say netted $300 million from more than 150,000 elderly and vulnerable people nationwide.  Minnesota's U.S. Attorney, Erica MacDonald, announced the charges Wednesday, calling it the largest elder fraud scheme in the country.  The defendants are from 14 states and two Canadian provinces.  Prosecutors say that during the last 20 years, the defendants used a network of fake magazine sales companies and telemarketing call centers to trick people into making large or repeat payments.  Prosecutors say the companies operated in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota and 10 other states (Iowa, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, California, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Arkansas.)

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KBI: Arkansas Man Under Pursuit Fatally Shot Himself

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says a 32-year-old Arkansas man who died during a law enforcement pursuit last week shot himself. The KBI says an autopsy determined that Wesley Jordan, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the southeast Kansas town of Independence.  The chase began on Friday after a reported robbery at an inn in Coffeyville. Authorities say Jordan and state troopers exchanged gunfire during the pursuit. When the chase ended, Jordan got out of the vehicle and officers fired at him. No officers were hurt.  

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Kansas Predicts Record Number of Voters Casting Ballots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas election officials predict the state will see record-setting turnout for this year's presidential election. The Kansas Secretary of State's office said it anticipates 70% of Kansas voters will participate in the election. It anticipates that about 1.35 million Kansans will cast a ballot.  While the 70% figure itself is not a record, every number behind it is.  Kansas has about 1.94 million registered voters, almost 100,000 more than in 2018. Their projection is based partly on record-setting turnout so far.  As of today (THUR), 346,489 advance-by-mail ballots have been returned to local election offices and nearly 221,000 voters have already cast ballots in-person.   

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Man Charged in Death of Woman Who's Body was Found in Ninnescah River

UNDATED (AP) - A Wichita man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of a woman whose body was found in a river earlier this year. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced the charges against 48-year-old Robert Bruce Mans Jr. in the death of 27-year-old Shalan Niccole Gannon, also of Wichita. Mans was charged Wednesday and arrested in Wichita today (THUR).  Shalan Gannon was reported missing on April 11, and her body was found in June in the Ninnescah River in rural Sumner County. Authorities did not release any other information, including how she died or how Mans was connected to her death.  

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Girl Killed, Father Critically Injured in Wichita Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 14-year-old girl was killed and her father critically injured in a two-vehicle crash in Wichita. Police say the crash happened just before noon Wednesday in northwest Wichita. Police said in a news release Thursday that a red car being driven by the girl's father was speeding when it hit a dip in the road, lost control and spun first into a pickup truck, then hit a second pickup. Police say 14-year-old Aryana Lay, of Wichita, died at the scene and that her 38-year-old father suffered serious injuries. Police say one person in one of the trucks also was treated for minor injuries.

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Regulators Suspend Missouri Nursing Home COVID-19 Testing Lab

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ The federal government has closed a coronavirus testing lab in Missouri over concerns about test accuracy. Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suspended Gamma Healthcare's license, and a federal judge ruled Wednesday that he won't step in to keep the lab open.  The Poplar Bluff lab tested for coronavirus at around 2,500 nursing homes in 11 states, including Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.  Other states include Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.  Health officials say two testing machines at the lab operated for months producing false-negatives on more than a quarter of known-positive COVID-19 samples. Lawyers for the lab say it's fixed the issues and should be allowed to stay open.

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Mother of Slain Boys Expresses Thanks, Asks for Privacy

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas mother whose estranged husband is charged with killing the couple's two sons before fleeing with their two daughters is thanking the people who helped track down the girls nearly 400 miles away in Oklahoma. Tara Jackson's attorney, Gary Nelson, described the deaths of 14-year-old Logan Jackson and 12-year-old Austin Jackson as "traumatic" in a statement released Wednesday and said the mother is asking for privacy for the family. The boys' younger sisters, 3-year-old Aven Jackson and 7-year-old Nora Jackson, were found unharmed near Erick, Oklahoma, on Saturday night after a massive search.  A trucker spotted the father and the two girls on Interstate 40 west of Oklahoma City and alerted authorities. The father of the four children, 40-year-old Donny Jackson Jr., has been charged with premeditated capital murder in the killing of his two sons. He is jailed in Oklahoma while awaiting extradition to Kansas.

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Lyons Man Charged in Shooting of Police Officer, Teacher

LYONS, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas man accused of shooting a police officer and a high school teacher has been charged with attempted capital murder. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says 40-year-old Adam Hrabik, of Lyons, was charged in the October 19 shooting of Lyons police Sergeant Cory Ryan, who suffered serious injuries.  He was also charged with aggravated assault after high school teacher Brian Friess was caught in the crossfire and seriously injured. The suspect ran into a home after the shooting and was arrested after a long standoff with police.

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Johnson County Health Officials Asks Schools to Suspend Winter Sports

OLATHE, Kan. (KNS) _ With Covid cases spiking, the Johnson County Health Department is recommending schools forgo indoor, winter sports.  County health officer Joseph LeMaster said in a YouTube video that players and spectators crowded inside a gym presents a much bigger risk than people at an outdoor  football game.  LeMaster  says it’s only a recommendation but whatever districts decide, they have to think about stopping the spread of the virus. “It will be very important for the schools to continue to think about other type of mitigations that they can take” LeMaster said.  The Shawnee Mission District says this is a complicated issue and it will take time to work through it.  Officials at Olathe Public Schools say the district will move forward with winter sports using mitigation protocols recommended by the state high school activities association.

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Court Revives Kansas City Man's Lawsuit in Wrongful Arrest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by a Black Kansas City man who was wrongfully arrested when he was 15 and held for three weeks without charge. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday revived a lawsuit filed by Tyree Bell and his mother against the two officers who arrested Bell in June 2016. They said they arrested him because he matched the description of a suspect who fled with a gun earlier that day. Evidence showed Bell was taller, wore different clothing and had a different hairstyle than the suspect.

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Man Charged with Mayor Threat Had Been Texting Wichita City Councilman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Court documents say a retired firefighter who is charged with threatening to kidnap and kill the mayor of Wichita because he was upset about the city's mask ordinance had been texting an acquaintance on the city council for more than a month before his arrest. The Wichita Eagle reports that t 59-year-old Meredith Dowty was charged with three counts of criminal threat. The documents say Wichita City Council member James Clendenin started receiving texts from Dowty on September 9.  But he said he didn't feel the conversation went beyond "venting" until October 16, when Dowty allegedly wrote that the "Mayor and all those who bankrupt us" are "viable targets for elimination."

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Sporting KC Earns Playoff Berth, Beating FC Cincinnati 1-0

CINCINNATI (AP) — Roger Espinoza scored and Sporting Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with a 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night. Sporting Kansas City also moved into the Western Conference lead. Cincinnati lost its third straight match and was eliminated from playoff contention. Espinoza's shot from close range deflected off goalkeeper Spencer Richey's left foot in the 57th minute.

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Ex-KU Player de Sousa Charged in New Year's Day Battery

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Former Kansas forward Silvio de Sousa has been charged in a New Year's Day altercation a little more than a week after announcing this month that he was opting out of the Jayhawks' basketball program for the upcoming season. The Kansas City Star reports that an assistant in the Douglas County District Attorney's office said that although the felony count of aggravated battery wasn't filed until Monday, the case was ``reviewed promptly upon receipt.'' The assistant said the district attorney's office received an affidavit and reports from Lawrence police on Septenmber 30 and an updated affidavit on October 16. No attorney for De Sousa was listed in court records, and he could not be reached for comment.

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