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Headlines for Tuesday, April 21, 2020

 

Kansas Faces $653 Million Shortfall After Tax Projections Slashed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is facing a projected 8.1% shortfall in its next state budget after a new fiscal forecast slashed projections for expected tax collections over the next 15 months by nearly $1.37 billion. The new forecast issued Monday reflects the economic damage associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Tax collections are projected to be lower for the current budget year and the 2021 budget year that begins in July than they were during the 2019 budget year. The result would be a $653 million shortfall at the end of June 2021. The Kansas Constitution prohibits a deficit, so the state would have to make adjustments.

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Protests Against Stay-at-Home Orders Held in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Protesters upset with stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus brought their cause to Kansas City Monday, where between 75 and 100 people waved signs and U.S. flags near the city's Country Club Plaza. Protests against the orders are spreading across the country, with supporters contending that government orders for people to stay home except for essential business are unnecessary and are damaging the economy. Missouri Governor Mike Parson has issued a stay-at-home order for the state through May 3 but he said last week the state plans to take steps to begin reopening its economy the next day.

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Staff Member at Topeka Prison Tests Positive for Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The coronavirus has now been confirmed at three prisons in Kansas.  The latest case involves  the state's all-female facility in Topeka.  State officials confirmed Monday that a worker at the Topeka Correctional Facility tested positive for the virus.  The prison would only say the staff member is a male over the age of 20.  State and county health officials performed contact tracing to find out who had recently been in close contact with the infected staff member.  A state prison in Lansing was the first correctional facility in Kansas with a confirmed case. It now has 47 staff members and 40 inmates who have tested positive.  One inmate tested positive at the Wichita Work Release Facility, but that inmate has since been moved to the Lansing facility.  The Topeka Correctional Facility is the state’s only all-female prison, with a capacity of 948 inmates.

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UPDATE: As of 11 am today (TUE), health officials reported 2,025 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 107 deaths.  Cases have been reported from 69 of the state's 105 counties.

Kansas Reports Nearly 2,000 Cases of COVID-19, Including 100 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —  As of 11 am Monday, state health officials reported 1,986 cases of COVID-19, including 100 deaths. Cases have been reported in 69 counties.  Most COVID-19 cases are in the Kansas City and Wichita areas -- Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth and Segdwick counties. But one of the Kansas counties with the fastest-growing number of cases is Ford County, in southwest Kansas.  One week ago, the Dodge City area had fewer than 20 cases.  It now has 180.  The new total comes just days after a federal judge struck a blow against Governor Laura Kelly's executive order limiting religious services to 10 worshipers. Saturday's ruling from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita prevents the enforcement of the governor's order against First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City.  (Get the latest updates from KDHE here.)

Top Six Kansas Counties with Most COVID-19 Cases

Wyandotte County = 427
Johnson County = 377
Sedgwick County = 248
Ford County = 180
Leavenworth County = 135
Shawnee County = 92  

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COVID-19 Erupts at Kansas Meatpacking Plants

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (HPPR / KNS) — Southwest Kansas has the majority of the state’s meatpacking plants. One county also has the 4th-most coronavirus cases in the state.  In just one week, Ford County - home to Cargill and National Beef plants - went from 17 cases to 180.  In Seward County, which has a National Beef plant, cases rose from 10 to 79.  And Finney County - with a Tyson plant - is nearing 40 cases.  National Beef and Cargill have said there are cases among their workers, but county health departments have not shared data.  State Health Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, says counties are in charge when it comes to releasing that information.  Meatpacking plants in several states have had to temporarily close because of coronavirus cases.  

(-Related-)

Kansas Works to Boost Testing in Meat Processing Towns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —   Kansas has received more personal protective equipment and supplies to expand COVID-19 testing in communities with meat processing plants. Governor Laura Kelly says the supplies will go to Finney, Ford and Seward counties in southwest Kansas and Lyon County in east-central Kansas.  Cargill, Tyson Fresh Meats and National Beef all say employees at their plants have tested positive.  State health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking clusters connected to the packing plants.

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Kansas Universities Had Serious Budget Problems Before Coronavirus and May Ax Even More Staff

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW / KNS) — Kansas colleges will soon get millions in federal money to help with the ripple effects from the coronavirus, but educators and experts say it’s not nearly enough.  The roughly $2 trillion CARES Act, meant as a life preserver for the national economy, added higher ed to the list of its beneficiaries. The government said half of the $13 billion for public and private universities must go to student grants. But the need is greater than that: Some students have lost the ability to pay hefty tuition bills — not to mention rent or groceries — and universities have lost revenue sources on top of already-strained budgets.  Without another stimulus boost from Washington, campus leaders and experts say Kansas’ colleges and universities must make two tough choices: which students to help and which employees to cut.  (Read more here.)  

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AMBER Alert Called Off After Nebraska Children Located Safe in Wichita

TEKAMAH, Neb. (AP) - Police in southeastern Nebraska say two young boys who were the subject of an urgent Amber alert Monday have been found safe in Wichita, Kansas. An Amber alert was issued Monday morning in Nebraska for the two boys, ages 7 and 4, who were taken from Tekamah.  The alert was later extended to Kansas. Tekamah Police Chief Dan Jacobs says the man accused of taking the boys was a step-grandparent and was caught and arrested in Wichita after a police chase.  Jacobs says the boys were found safe in the man's vehicle.  

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USDA Holds Virtual Career Expo April 28 for Kansas City Area Jobs

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is holding a virtual job fair for positions in the Kansas City area.  USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have partnered with the University of Missouri to host a joint Virtual Career Expo on April 28. A similar event last year attracted more than 400 attendees. Both agencies relocated most of their operations to the Kansas City region last fall and are continuing to grow their workforces.  ERS and NIFA continue to fill open positions and current listings are on USAJobs.  Vacancies include positions for economists, geographers, accountants, grant specialists, financial specialists, and communications specialists, among others.  ERS anticipates trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and conducts economic research to inform public and private decision making.  NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. Through an integrated approach, NIFA ensures scientific discoveries make their way into communities, farms, and classrooms.  Interested applicants may register for the Career Expo and sign up for information sessions online. Sessions will be held virtually, beginning at 2 pm with the last session at 4 pm CDT.  Visit USAJobs for current open positions at both agencies.

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Kansans Less Likely to Get Tested for the Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — People who live in Kansas are less likely to get a coronavirus test than in any other state and that has some residents worried.  Mary and Gary House live in southeast Kansas. Gary is 79 and a lawyer. Before the pandemic he met a lot of people in the course of a normal day.  “If I had a jury trial in a criminal case, they may bring in 70 or 80 prospective jurors to question. So you’re just around a lot of people," House said.  He and his wife want to see widespread testing before Kansas lifts its stay-at-home order, due to expire May 3.  Governor Laura Kelly says she does, too. But so far supply shortages have meant only about 6 in one thousand Kansans have been tested.

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Kansas Receives Large Shipment of Faulty Masks

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —  In its search for protective gear and coronavirus testing supplies, Kansas received a large shipment of masks that aren’t up to snuff.  Kansas Health Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, says the state purchased more than 270,000 masks that were falsely advertised as N95s. The masks came from China.  He says the masks are a different model that filters only about 10% as much as the N95. Norman says the state was able to modify the masks.  “So they actually might end up working, but it will take more than a little labor to convert those,” Norman said.  The state will prioritize using masks that are already adequate, but he said, the state will prepare the other masks for use if necessary.  

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Hospitals in Wichita, Manhattan and Pittsburg Start Stocking Groceries as a Service to Employees

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW / KNS) — Ascension Via Christi hospitals in Wichita, Manhattan and Pittsburg are now stocking grocery items in their cafeterias to save employees a trip to the store.  Calvin Poe, with Touchpoint Support Services, says the "groceries-to-go" program offers convenience and some hard-to-find supplies during this pandemic.  Poe says kitchen staples like milk, eggs, soup, pasta and more are for sale, including toilet paper.  Poe says the hospitals are considering keeping the grocery program around as a regular service, even after the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

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U.S. Attorney: Kansas Awarded $6 Million to Address Covid-19 Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  (KPR) — The U.S. Attorney for Kansas, Stephen McAllister, has announced that the state of Kansas will received $6 million in Department of Justice grants to respond to public safety challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  The grant was made available under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump.  In addition, $3.2 million has been allocated for local jurisdictions in Kansas. The Justice Department is moving quickly, awarding grants on a rolling basis and aiming to have funds available for drawdown as soon as possible after receiving applications. “This money can be used to support a broad range of activities to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus,” said McAllister. “That includes overtime, supplies such as gloves, masks and sanitizer and addressing the medical needs of inmates in prisons, jails and detention centers.”

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Man Charged in Wisconsin Brothers' Deaths to be Arraigned

KINGSTON, Mo. (AP) —  A Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin is scheduled to be arraigned next month. Garland Joseph Nelson, of Braymer, waived his right last week to a preliminary hearing in which the judge could hear the prosecutor's evidence against him and decide whether it was sufficient for him to stand trial. Instead the 10 felony charges against Nelson will be formally read at his May 4 arraignment. Among the charges are two counts each of first-degree murder in the deaths of 35-year-old Nick Diemel and 34-year-old Justin Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin.

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Wichita Man Charged in Death of 18-Year-Old Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  A Wichita man has been charged with fatally shooting an 18-year-old while she was riding in a car with her boyfriend and brother. The Wichita Eagle reports that 32-year-old Joshua Johnson was charged Monday with first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm in the April 13 death of Aubrey Resendez. His bond is set at $300,000. Police said it started with a disturbance between the occupants of the car in which Resendez was a passenger and a stolen pickup truck. Shots rang out, shattering the rear window of the car. Resendez was struck and died at a hospital. Her 18-year-old boyfriend and her 27-year-old brother weren't hurt.

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Longtime Kansas Newspaper Publisher Dave Seaton Dies at 80

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Dave Seaton, the longtime former editor and publisher of the Winfield Daily Courier and a member of a prominent newspaper family, died Saturday. He was 80. His son, David Allen Seaton, confirmed that his father died at the hospital in Winfield. He said his father's health had been failing and that he had undergone heart surgery about a year ago. His son described his father as "a lion in community journalism in Kansas.''

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Former Defensive Lineman for KC Chiefs Dies at 52

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR / KNS) — A former defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs died unexpectedly on Sunday.  Pellom McDaniels was just 52 years old.  After his football career ended, McDaniels became a professor and author, among other things. McDaniels spent six seasons with the Chiefs, playing for Kansas City from 1993 to 1998.  After his NFL career, he stayed in Kansas City until 2007 as a history professor at UMKC, involved with local organizations like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He lived the final years of his life in the Atlanta area.  

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Kansas Moves one Step Closer to Commercial Hemp Program

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The process of establishing a new commercial hemp program in Kansas has taken a critical first step. The Hutchinson News reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the plan by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to change the state's research-based commercial hemp program to a commercial program. This approval makes it possible for farmers to grow hemp without being under the umbrella of a research program. Once this program is approved by the state, farmers will not have to make formal research proposals in order to grow the non-hallucinogenic crop. But the program must jump through several more hurdles to change status. These include state-based rules and regulations.

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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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