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Headlines for Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Kansas Reports 1,426 Cases of COVID-19, Including 69 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) -  As of 11 am Tuesday, state health officials reported 1,426 cases of COVID-19 from 62 counties, including 69 deaths.  There have been 327 of 1,145 cases that required hospitalization. The Kansas City and Wichita areas have the most cases: Wyandotte County (345), Johnson County (323), Sedgwick County (205).  Find more updates here.   

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Emergency Workers Seek Help Responding to Virus Outbreak

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Three groups that represent paramedics and firefighters have written to Gov. Laura Kelly saying they lack adequate protective gear and that their workers compensation doesn’t cover them if they become infected with the coronavirus or need to be quarantined. The Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs and Kansas State Firefighters Association demanded help Monday in a joint letter. And the Kansas Emergency Medical Services Association said in a letter sent last week that EMS providers are very concerned that they will be “severely financially impacted” if they are exposed to the virus. Nearly 80% of the state’s firefighters are volunteers, while others work part time.

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Coronavirus Deaths at Kansas Rehab Facility Increase to 12

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak at a Kansas City area rehabilitation facility has now claimed 12 lives and sickened nearly 100 other residents and staff members. Health officials in Wyandotte County said that the Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation of Kansas City has 90 residents who tested positive and 20 staff. Five of the residents are currently in the hospital. The facility said in a statement posted on its website that about 90% of patients are responding positively to care and that it is making palliative and supportive care available to those residents whose “overall course has not been as encouraging despite the efforts of our clinical team.”

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Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Releasing Inmates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court plans to hear arguments from attorneys Wednesday over a civil rights group’s attempt to force the state to release prison inmates with preexisting medical conditions making them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. The court is reviewing a lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas for seven inmates at state prisons in Ellsworth,  Lansing  and Topeka. The lawsuit argues that the inmates are housed in crowded conditions with limited access to adequate medical care. Gov. Laura Kelly has said efforts are underway to identify inmates who are close to finishing their sentences and can be released. 

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Kansas Sees 2nd Prison Disturbance Within a Week

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Inmates at a state prison in central Kansas threw trash from their cells and damaged security cameras during a weekend disturbance that was the second outbreak of prison unrest in less than a week. The state Department of Corrections reported Tuesday that between 125 and 150 inmates were involved in the incident Sunday at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. The disturbance lasted less than two hours and resulted in no staff or inmate injuries but prompted the lockdown of a building. The disturbance came only three days after inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility outside the Kansas City area rampaged through offices.

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Inmates Moved to New Building at Lansing After Coronavirus Confirmed at Wichita Facility
 
LANSING, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials announced Monday that 113 inmates at a work-release facility have been relocated after a resident tested positive for the coronavirus amid a fight to control an outbreak at another facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections said the inmates who were relocated Sunday night lived in the same housing unit as the infected resident at the Wichita Work Release Facility. They were moved to a newly reconstructed building at the Lansing Correctional Facility, which is battling its own outbreak with 18 inmates and 21 staff testing positive.

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Blacks Represent Disproportionate Percentage of Missouri Virus Deaths

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The coronavirus is killing black Missourians at a disproportionate rate, especially in the two urban areas of the state, prompting some local African American leaders to question if outreach is falling short. Sixteen of the 19 people who have died in St. Louis were black, as were 20 of the 42 victims in St. Louis County and five of the eight victims in Kansas City. Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel is calling for the state to lead the effort to help blacks get tested and treated. So far, he says, the state is failing to do so.

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Topeka Area Retail Workers Instructed to Cover Their Faces

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP)  — Health officials in the Topeka area are urging store employees to cover their faces with masks or scarves at all times amid the coronavirus outbreak. Shawnee County health officer Gianfranco Pezzino also wrote Monday that retailers should limit the number of customers in a store at one time to no more than five customers for each 1000 square feet. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that he said that customers should be admitted on a "one-out, one in" basis once a store reaches its capacity.

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KU Med Participates in Clinical Trial of Hydroxychloroquine in Health Care Workers

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (KPR) – The University of Kansas Medical Center will participate in a nationwide clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in preventing COVID-19 infection in exposed health care workers.  The KU Medical Center made the announcement today (MON) that it is one of 60 such sites across the nation that would be participating in this clinical trial, led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute.  The trial will launch April 22.  (Read more about this story.)

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Kansas Works to Fix Buggy System for Filing for Unemployment

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Amid a surge of complaints from desperate out-of-work Kansans, state officials are making another effort to fix the state’s faltering system for filing unemployment claims as the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on the economy. The Kansas Department of Labor said in a tweet that tech workers were taking the agency’s website down for an hour each at noon and at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday that the department has received more than 130,000 initial unemployment claims over the past three weeks. Complaints about the system have been widespread. 

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Kansas Labor Department Schedules Website Shutdowns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Labor's website will be shut down a couple of times today (TUE) in an effort to bolster it under the heavy load of residents filing unemployment claims. The agency said in a tweet that tech workers plan to take the site down for an hour each at noon and at 7 pm. Phone lines during the shutdowns will remain open. Governor Laura Kelly said Monday that the department has received more than 130,000 initial unemployment claims over the past three weeks. But even those numbers don't capture the full extent of job losses in the state, in part because a 43-year-old mainframe computer cannot keep up.

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Sedgwick County Asking Employees to Volunteer for Furlough

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County has told its 2,500 employees in an email that it is looking for people to voluntarily furlough amid the coronavirus pandemic. An email Friday from County Manager Tom Stolz says the furlough will span from April 19 to May 23. The Wichita Eagle reports employees could be called back before if "services are able to return to normal-functioning capacity." The Sedgwick County Commission is expected to weigh in during its Wednesday meeting.

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Police Investigate Body Found in Wooded Area of Kansas City Suburb

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a wooded area of a Kansas City suburb. The Kansas City Star reports Riverside police are investigating Conrado “Conrad” Mendez' death as a homicide. Police found Mendez dead in a wooded area off a road on Thursday after someone reported a possible dead body in Riverside. Police haven't released his cause of death or any suspect information.

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Police: Death of Kansas City Woman Last Week Now Ruled a Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say the death last week of a woman who reportedly had hit her head against a wall inside her apartment has now been ruled a homicide. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office determined the woman's injuries were caused by blunt force trauma to the head and classified her death as a homicide, the city's 46th this year. Officers were called Wednesday morning to an apartment near the Wheeler Downtown Airport after medics found the injured woman. She was taken to a hospital, where she died. Police have not released her name. No arrests had been reported by Monday morning.

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$1 Million Bond Set for Kansas Man in Killings of Girlfriend, Her Child

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter is in jail on a $1 million bond. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says a judge set bond for 25-year-old Daniel Lopez on Monday. Lopez was wanted for the killings until police arrested him Friday without incident. He’s charged in the deaths of 25-year-old Mickayla Sorell and her daughter Natalya Sorrell. An Associated Press request for comment to Lopez's public defender wasn't immediately returned Monday.

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Kansas Man Charged in Fatal Shooting Near Johnson County Library  

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with murder for a fatal shooting near a Johnson County library. The Kansas City Star reports Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe charged 27-year-old Overland Park resident Dvonte Brown with first-degree murder. Authorities allege he killed 29-year-old Prairie Village resident Micah Babick last week. Police say Babick was fatally shot in a parking lot near the Johnson County Central Resource Library. Brown was arrested for the killing on Saturday. His bond is set at $1 million. No lawyers were listed for Brown in court records Monday.  

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Kansas Woman Dies After Wichita Shooting     

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW-TV) — Kansas police are investigating the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old woman in Wichita. Wichita television station KSNW-TV reports Aubrey Resendez died after an early Monday morning shooting. Wichita police told the station that an 18-year-old man was driving Resendez and another passenger when they got into a disturbance with people in a silver truck. Police say someone in the truck fired multiple shots at the car and hit Resendez. The driver and the other passenger were not hurt. But Resendez was taken to a hospital and later died. Police say the shooting wasn't random.

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38-Year-Old Orangutan at Topeka Zoo Dies Following Illness

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center has announced the death of a Bornean orangutan following a short illness. The zoo says in a statement that Lena, a 38-year-old female, died Monday after becoming ill last April 8. Her condition failed to improve, and zoo staff anesthetized her to conduct a full medical workup. Officials say Lena's heart stopped while she was under anesthesia, and staff were unable to resuscitate her. A necropsy failed to determine a cause of death, but did show she had an abnormal left kidney. Lena was born at the Buffalo Zoo on April 2, 1982, and came to Topeka from the Columbus Zoo in 2005.

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14-Year-Old in Stolen Minivan Arrested After Kansas Chase

Authorities say a 14-year-old Wichita boy in a stolen minivan was arrested after officers used a tire-flattening spike strip to disable the vehicle. Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tim Myers says the chase started at 3:53 a.m. Monday. The Wichita Eagle reports that the driver was speeding and crossing into other lanes. Two passengers ran on foot after the Dodge Caravan was stopped. The vehicle had been reported stolen out of Wichita.

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2 Largest US Rivers Top New Listing of Endangered Waterways

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The nation’s two largest rivers top a new listing of the most endangered waterways. The Washington, D.C.-based conservation organization American Rivers on Tuesday released its list of the 10 most endangered waterways in the United States. The Upper Mississippi River was cited as the most endangered, followed by the lower Missouri River. For both rivers, American Rivers cited increasingly severe flooding driven by climate change. Extreme flooding has become increasingly common on the Upper Mississippi. Meanwhile, parts of the Missouri River saw record and near-record flooding last spring in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

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Kansas State Works to Boost Enrollment, Offers Virtual Tours

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is still working to increase enrollment despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Enrollment has been declining for years, and it hit a 20-year low in fall 2019. To turn things around, The Manhattan Mercury reports the university is offering virtual campus tours to prospective students. During the virtual tours, students can talk over Zoom with admissions counselors and representatives from different programs. But enrollment management Vice Provost Karen Goos told the newspaper that students won't get the same sense of the university's traditions and culture on a virtual tour as they would walking around campus.

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KU's Devon Dotson Announces He's Entering NBA Draft  

UNDATED (AP) — University of Kansas guard Devon Dotson is entering the NBA draft after leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.1 steals while helping Kansas go 28-3 and win its final 16 games. He earned second-team honors on The Associated Press All-America team. Kansas owned the No. 1 ranking when the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dotson says he intends to sign with an agent.

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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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