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Headlines for Thursday, September 2, 2021


Number of Active COVID-19 Clusters in Kansas K-12 Schools Triples

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The number of active COVID clusters in Kansas public schools has tripled, according to a weekly update from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  According to WIBW TV, information posted Wednesday shows a total of 172 active clusters in Kansas.  Only two schools with active clusters are identified by name. KDHE only publicly names places considered exposure locations, which means they’ve had five or more cases in the previous 14 days. The two schools considered exposure locations are Mount Olive Lutheran in Overland Park, and USD 405 Central Elementary in Lyons.  Other exposure locations include facilities in Topeka: Brighton Place West retirement home, the Kansas Neurological Institute and the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex.


Kansas City Hospitals See More Children with 'Long Haul' COVID-19 Symptoms

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) - The University of Kansas Health System says adults are not the only ones showing up with lingering symptoms from COVID-19.  Doctors at KU say they are treating a group of children experiencing long-term effects from the virus. KCUR Radio reports that KU has set up a “long-haul” clinic that connects pediatric patients with different treatments depending on their symptoms.  Symptoms seen in younger patients are similar to those seen in adults with long-haul syndrome. Those symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, brain fog, dizziness and shortness of breath.  The Delta variant of the virus has fueled rising hospitalizations at Kansas City's only pediatric hospital, Children’s Mercy, in recent weeks. Children's Mercy reached a record number of COVID-19 patients earlier this month, exceeding highs seen last winter.  Doctors at Children’s Mercy said that the surge of COVID patients and a recent spike in other pediatric illnesses have filled up their capacity. They said the numbers are now declining, but it's still the longest stretch they've experienced such high numbers.


Kansas to Release More Information on COVID School Outbreaks

UNDATED (AP) — Kansas will soon release more information on school COVID-19 outbreaks and youth vaccination rates as many districts begin the year without masks. Governor Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that a new working group of pediatricians, school nurses and other health care providers will meet weekly to discuss how schools can operate safely amid the pandemic. She said the group will release a weekly report that will provide a list of schools with active outbreaks and best practices on masking, testing and quarantining. The report also will include a county-by-county breakdown on youth vaccination rates, cases, hospitalizations and deaths.


150 New COVID Cases Reported in Douglas County in Past Two Days

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - New cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County have increased by 150 since Monday, according to information Wednesday from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the cumulative case count for the county now stands at 10,918, with 710 cases currently active. Eighty-nine people have died of COVID in the county since the pandemic began last year.  On Wednesday, 14 inpatients were being treated for the virus at LMH Health.  Health officials are urging all eligible people — that’s everyone 12 and older — to get the vaccine, especially in light of the more contagious Delta variant that’s on the rise throughout the country.  Health officials have encouraged residents to follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends everyone 2 and older, even those fully-vaccinated, wear masks in indoor public spaces.


Kansas City Area Hospitals to Require Employee Vaccination

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) -The University of Kansas Health System has announced that it will require all hospital workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1st.  KU Medical’s announcement comes after Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City also issued vaccination mandates to their workers. The KU Health System has more than 10,000 employees statewide. Administrators said a majority of its physicians and employees have already been vaccinated.

Kansas Nursing Home Employees Missing Vaccine Targets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Data from the state of Kansas shows that about a third of nursing homes have fewer than half of their health care workers vaccinated against the coronavirus. The data shows that just four of the more than 300 federally-licensed nursing homes in the state are meeting the goal of 90% of health care workers vaccinated against COVID-19. The state released the data after President Joe Biden announced that his administration will require nursing home staff to be vaccinated as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. State data shows that about 46% of Kansans were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.


Kansas Health Official Urge Kansans Not to Take Ivermectin for COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – With a rise in calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is urging Kansans not to take the drug ivermectin, unless prescribed by a physician.  Ivermectin is not approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat or prevent COVID-19. The drug has been approved in humans to treat specific skin conditions like rosacea, head lice or some parasitic worms. Ivermectin is used in livestock as an anti-parasite medicine and can be found in livestock supply centers. Livestock drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans.  “Kansans should avoid taking medications that are intended for animals and should only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” said Lee Norman, M.D., Secretary of KDHE. “These highly-concentrated doses can cause severe illness and even death in humans."  Health and science experts say the COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and most effective way to prevent getting sick and protect against severe disease and death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta variant. In addition to the vaccine, mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing will help stop the spread of the virus.  Find a free COVID-19 vaccine near you


Study: Kansas Has One of the Highest Rates of Registered Sex Offenders of Any State

UNDATED, (KC Star) - Kansas is among the states with the highest rate of registered sex offenders in their populations.  That’s according to a new study released by, a home and personal security company.  The Kansas City Star reports that the study, which looked at state sex offender registries across the country and their respective populations, found that Kansas ranked in the top 10 when adjusted for population differences.  As of Tuesday, the Kansas registry included the names of 11,071 sex offenders.  About a third of the offenders (3,581) are registered at addresses in Sedgwick County.  Kansas came in 22nd in the overall number of sex offenders on its registry when compared to other states and the District of Columbia.  The study ranked the state as having the 10th highest rate of registered sex offenders in the country, or 378 per 100,000 residents.  The Kansas Bureau of Investigation maintains the searchable sex offender registry in Kansas.  The study also found that Kansas had the same rate of child sex abuse reports as the national average, 83 per 100,000 children.  Authorities and victims advocates have long said, however, that actual rates are probably higher across the U.S. because these types of crimes often go unreported.


Governor Sends Kansas National Guard to Help with Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Louisiana

TOPEKA, Kan.(KPR) - Governor Laura Kelly has announced that the Kansas National Guard will be deployed to Louisiana to provide support in and around areas affected by Hurricane Ida. The soldiers and airmen are deploying as part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a multi-state agreement that allows states to send government aid to other states in emergency situations.  “In times of crisis, Kansans have always stepped up to help out our fellow Americans – and today is no different,” Kelly said.  Approximately 280 Soldiers and Airmen will deploy for this mission, which is expected to last 21 days, including travel. The guardsmen will take engineering equipment such as skid steers, dump trucks, chain saws, and excavators. They will also be taking other equipment which includes generators, light medium tactical vehicles, high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, and palletized load system trucks.


Missouri Man Sentenced to 35 Years for Fatal Shooting in Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A 21-year-old Oak Grove, Missouri man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for a shooting in Independence that killed one person and injured another. Jackson County prosecutors said David Harris was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 10 years for assault and armed criminal action. The sentences will run consecutively. Prosecutors said Harris shot and killed 20-year-old Mary Schmitz in September 2018 and wounded another person at an Independence apartment.  


Suspect Arrested in Deaths of Two People in Reno County

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in the deaths of two people in Reno County. Maize Police Chief Matt Jensby said Wednesday that Kyle Hardwick was booked into the Reno County jail on possible charges of first-degree murder and theft. His bond is set at $2 million. Deputies found two people dead on August 27 on property in eastern Reno County. Deputies found one the body of a person who had been reported missing, then later found a second body. Investigators say foul play is suspected in both deaths. Officials have not released any information about the victims.


Police ID Man Found Shot to Death in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified a man shot to death and found in a grassy area under a tree. Police say the body of 19-year-old Johnnie Roades was discovered Tuesday evening by a person walking in the area about two hours after neighbors had reported hearing gunshots. Police have said they have no suspects yet in the case and are asking anyone with information on Roades' death to contact detectives. Police say the killing was the city's 30th homicide of the year.


Officials: Woman, Dog Found Dead in Overland Park Fire

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials in suburban Kansas City who responded to a condominium kitchen fire say a woman and her dog were found dead inside the unit. The fire occurred Tuesday afternoon, when Overland Park fire crews responded to a call of a fire along Outlook Drive. Overland Park Fire spokesman Jason Rhodes says arriving fighters found smoke coming from a two-story condo and quickly put out the kitchen fire. The woman was found dead in the front room of the home. Officials identified her as 51-year-old Julie Ann Peterson. Rhodes said it was unclear if the fire started from cooking or an electrical problem with the stove. 


Missouri Judge Refuses to Reinstate Federal Jobless Benefits

UNDATED (AP) - A Missouri judge has refused to reinstate federal unemployment benefits that were cut in June when Governor Mike Parson pulled out of several programs. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said the court “would not substitute its judgment” for that of the governor. The ruling by Beetem on Tuesday came a day after lawyers representing Missouri residents who lost the jobless benefits asked for reinstatement with back pay. The enhanced benefits added money to the unemployment checks for out-of-work Americans to help ease the crunch caused by shutdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic. But some Republican governors, including Parson, ended the benefits to try and prod people to rejoin the workforce.


Tyson, Perdue Farms Shell Out $36 Million to Settle Antitrust Claims

UNDATED (HPM) - Tyson and Perdue Farms have agreed to pay a total of $35.75 million to broiler chicken farmers to settle a class action lawsuit. It’s part of a larger antitrust lawsuit involving some of the country’s largest chicken processors, including Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Koch Foods. Harvest Public Media reports that the lawsuit was originally filed in 2017 in the Eastern District of the Oklahoma federal court. Gary Smith Jr., a partner at Hausfeld LLC, a law firm representing the broiler chicken farmers, says the lawsuit alleges the companies conspired to suppress wages by agreeing not to hire a grower from another company, known as a “no poach” policy. “In a competitive market, you would go out, and you would try to attract the best labor you could have,” Smith says.  The lawsuit also alleges the chicken companies use Agri Stats, a data website, to share compensation data and suppress wages.  Tyson and Perdue Farms have agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of the remaining defendants in the case. Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Koch Foods are still fighting the lawsuit in court. (Read more.)


Former Congressional Candidate Running for Kansas Treasurer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former executive with an advocacy group for those with Down syndrome has launched a campaign for Kansas state treasurer. Sara Hart Weir said in an email to supporters on Monday that she plans to bring a “conservative, outsider approach to problem-solving.” Weir joins state Senator Caryn Tyson, of Parker, state Rep. Steven Johnson of Assaria and former adviser to Governor Sam Brownback Michael Austin in seeking the Republican nomination for treasurer. The incumbent is Democrat Lynn Rogers, who was lieutenant governor until Governor Laura Kelly appointed him in December to fill the vacancy created when Treasurer Jake LaTurner was elected to Congress.


Hearing on Longtime Inmate's Possible Freedom Postponed

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A hearing that could have determined whether a Missouri man will be freed from prison after serving more than 40 years has been postponed. Attorneys were scheduled to make arguments Thursday in Jackson County on whether Kevin Strickland should be exonerated for a triple murder in Kansas City in 1978. But Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office filed an emergency motion Wednesday to have the hearing delayed, arguing the office had not been given sufficient time to prepare. The Missouri Appeals Court ruled Wednesday afternoon in Schmitt's favor, and ordered that attorneys meet with a judge on Thursday to reschedule the hearing.


Woman Charged in Killing of Man Found in Wichita Alley

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A homeless woman has been charged in the fatal stabbing of a man whose body was found earlier this month in a Wichita alley. The Wichita Eagle reports that police say 34-year-old Latoya Annette McCurn told investigators she stabbed 49-year-old Van Hung Nguyen because he wouldn't stop grabbing at her legs and buttocks or making sexual comments to her. Nguyen's body was found on August 17 with a single stab wound to his chest. McCurn has been charged with first-degree murder. Police say she told investigators that she had met Nguyen earlier in the day and that she repeatedly told him to stop “messing with her" and later stabbed him when he touched her again.


Kansas City Southern Suitor's Bid in Jeopardy After Ruling

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Canadian National’s $33.6 billion deal to acquire Kansas City Southern railroad is in jeopardy. Federal regulators on Tuesday rejected a key part of the plan and opened the door for a competing $31 billion offer from Canadian Pacific Railway. The Surface Transportation Board says Canadian National won’t be able to use a voting trust to acquire Kansas City Southern and hold the railroad while the board reviews the overall deal. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Kansas City Southern will still want to move forward with CN. But Kansas City Southern is now free to accept CP’s offer, which already has regulatory approval to move forward.


Black U.S. Farmers Awaiting Billions in Promised Debt Relief

BOYDTON, Va. (AP) — U.S. farmers of color are battling in the courts to save a $4 billion debt relief program approved by Congress. Congress approved the debt relief for 16,000 farmers of color in March as part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The funding was intended to remedy past discrimination in U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs. White farmers have sued, arguing that the relief is discriminatory. The USDA's history of discrimination is so pervasive that many Black farmers call the government agency "the last plantation." They're now fighting with the USDA to defend the debt relief program.

Learn more about how some Kansas farmers have been affected by the history of discrimination in USDA programs. 


Economy Grows at Healthy Pace in Nine Midwest, Plains States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy  keeps operating at a healthy pace in nine Midwest and Plains states, but supply delays and shortages of workers are limiting growth in the region. The overall economic index for the region slipped to 68.9 from July’s surging 73.1, but it still indicates strong growth. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said strong job growth continued but businesses are having trouble finding workers to hire. The monthly survey covers Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.


These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  


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