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Headlines for Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Increasingly Larger Numbers of COVID-19 Cases Seen in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is seeing increasingly larger numbers of new COVID-19 cases and a surge in cases of the faster-spreading delta variant. State health officials say Kansas averaged 371 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday. That's the highest figure in more than four months. Officials are also reporting a nearly 28% increase in confirmed cases of the delta variant since Friday. Meanwhile, Wyandotte County's health department has announced plans to expand an existing vaccine lottery.

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COVID-19 Outbreaks Blamed on Summer Camps

UNDATED (AP) - The U.S. has seen a string of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to summer camps in recent weeks in places such as Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Illinois and Florida, offering what some fear could be a preview of the upcoming school year. The clusters have come as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. has reversed course, surging more than 60% over the past two weeks from an average of about 12,000 a day to about 19,500. The rise in many places has been blamed on too many unvaccinated people and the highly contagious delta variant.

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Southwest Missouri Hospital Bracing for More COVID-19 Cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield, Missouri, hospital has opened its sixth COVID-19 ward as the delta virus variant rages in the state's southwest region. Mercy Hospital in Springfield announced the new ward as the hospital was treating 133 virus patients. Hospital officials say the hospital needed, at most, five virus wards last year. Many people in rural areas of southern Missouri remain unvaccinated. Many people from rural areas don't have nearby hospitals, so they come to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

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Rural Hospitals in Kansas, Missouri Get Federal Money to Fight COVID-19

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) - Small rural hospitals in Kansas are set to receive nearly $24 million from the federal government to continue the fight against COVID-19. The grant, from the Department of Health and Human Services, is meant to help smaller rural hospitals increase their COVID-19 mitigation and testing capacities. The money will split between the 91 hospitals in Kansas that have fewer than 50 beds. The $23.5 million Kansas hospitals will receive is second only to Texas. The funding comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are beginning to increase again in some rural areas across the country, especially in southeast Missouri. In total, HHS is sending almost $400 million dollars to 46 states. Rural hospitals in Missouri will get $8.3 million.

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GOP Senator Asks if Background Checks Were Adequate as State Ramped Up Unemployment Staffing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker is questioning whether Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s administration may have worsened unemployment fraud by not conducting adequate background checks on hundreds of people hired to help with a surge in claims during the pandemic. State Senator Caryn Tyson of Parker raised the issue Tuesday as the state prepares to launch a unemployment fraud investigation. She serves on a new state council charged with auditing unemployment fraud and says she wants the audit to examine what kind of checks the state did on more than 400 workers it hired. Democratic State Representative Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park says the state hired workers quickly because lawmakers demanded it.

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16-Year-Old Suspected in 14-Year-Old Hesston Girl's Death  

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - Newton police say a 16-year-old suspect is in custody after the shooting death of a 14-year-old Hesston girl. The girl, whose name has not been released, was shot Sunday night at a home where several teenagers were gathered. Police said in a Facebook post that the suspect was drunk and waving a gun around when the girl was shot. The suspect was arrested Monday morning.  

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Kansas City Firefighters Tackle Blaze on City's East Side

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) - Firefighters are battling a large blaze in an industrial park on the city's east side. The fire started just before 1 o'clock this (TUE) morning at Leeds Industrial Leasing near Raytown Road and Stadium Drive. Employees told KMBC TV that there were a few workers inside the Leeds building who were able to escape to safety. No word yet on the cause of that fire which sent a plume of smoke stretching for miles across the sky.

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Millions of Gallons of Untreated Wastewater Dumped into Blue River in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities overseeing a Kansas City wastewater treatment plant say a storm-driven power outage over the weekend forced the plant to dump several million gallons of untreated wastewater into the Blue River. The KC Water Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant dumped about 42.5 million gallons of untreated wastewater from Saturday afternoon into early Sunday. KC Water spokeswoman Heather Frierson says that came to a rate of about 3.4 million gallons an hour. The Blue River begins in Johnson County, Kansas, and flows across the state line before connecting with the Missouri River.  

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Missouri's AG Wants to Keep Kevin Strickland in Jail

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Attorney General's office says longtime inmate Kevin Strickland is guilty of killing three people in Kansas City in 1978. In a motion filed Monday, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Clarke asked a judge to deny a petition seeking to exonerate Strickland and free him from prison. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and those who convicted Strickland, as well as other officials, have said Strickland is innocent and should be released. In Monday's filing, the attorney general's office said Baker's office has avoided, overlooked or misinterpreted evidence in the case against Strickland. On Monday, Circuit Judge Ryan Horsman set an evidentiary hearing in Strickland's case for August 12-13.

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Voter Registration Deadline Arrives for 2021 Primary Elections

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - A key deadline has arrived to participate in this year’s municipal elections. Today (TUE) is the last day to register to vote before this year’s local primaries. Kansans will be electing local government officials like mayors and city council members. Turnout is often small in these races, but these are jobs that set taxes, decide land use issues and develop local education policy. You can register to vote at your county election’s office or online. The deadline is important for people new to Kansas or voters who have moved and need to update their registration. Te primary election will take place on August 3rd, and the general election is coming in November. Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman says it’s traditionally been a challenge to get people out for local elections, but he says the offices do set important local government policies that affect residents in their daily lives. Not everyone will have a local election to vote in this year. Information on specific local races can be found on county election websites.

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Law Helps Kansans with Suspended Driver's Licenses Get Back Behind the Wheel

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) - Governor Laura Kelly held a ceremonial bill signing last week for a new law aimed at making it easier for Kansans with suspended licenses to drive legally again. The bill eliminates the $25 fee drivers have to pay to apply for a restricted license, which allows them to drive to work, school and medical appointments. It also allows more drivers to apply for restricted privileges and eliminates a 90-day waiting period once fines and fees are paid. Sheila Officer is on the Wichita Racial Profiling Board, which helped push for the new legislation. "This is one useful and important step on a journey that will require more, much more, to liberate thousands of Kansans that are stranded by some antiquated motorist laws," she said. The Kansas Department of Revenue says nearly 206 thousand drivers have a suspended license - about half of them in Sedgwick County. The majority of suspensions are related to unpaid fines and fees.

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Atchison Schools Pick Phoenix to Replace Former Mascot

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — The Atchison school district will use the Phoenix as its new mascot. The Board of Education chose the new mascot on Monday night after months of discussion. The vote came despite a petition with more than 700 signatures asking the board not to act until it had gathered more public input. The board voted in April to replace the former Native American-themed Redmen mascot for the high school and Braves for the middle school. Board members said the Phoenix is a neutral symbol, and they wanted to make the choice before the school year started. 

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2 Teenage Girls Accused of Running over Woman with Her Car

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Saline County authorities say two teenage girls are in custody after they allegedly stole a woman's car at a foster care facility and then ran over the woman when she tried to stop them from leaving. Saline County Undersheriff Brent Melander said two girls aged 14 and 17 ran from St. Francis Ministries in rural Saline County Monday evening. An employee jumped on the hood of her car when the girls tried to drive away. Melander says when the woman was eventually thrown off the hood, the girls drove over her before fleeing. The woman was hospitalized with injuries that are not life threatening. The girls were later arrested in Ellsworth.

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Wichita State to Charge Fees for Seniors Who Audit Courses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University plans this fall to stop allowing Kansas residents 60 and older to audit its classes for free. The Wichita Eagle reports that the university sent a letter this month to people who’ve previously audited its classes to notify them of the fees. Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Shirley Lefever said the new fees will help cover instructional costs. The new fees range from $7.75 a credit hour for liberal arts courses to $68 a credit hour for business courses. Most courses are three credit hours. The move comes with the university planning to keep tuition flat for the upcoming school year.

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All Black Female Unit from WWII Honored by Congress

BOSTON (AP) - An Army battalion that made history as the only all-female, Black unit to serve in Europe during World War II is set to be honored by Congress. The Senate has passed legislation that would award members of the 6888th Central Directory Postal Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill is awaiting action in the House. The unit, also known as the "Six Triple Eight." The unit was tasked with sorting and routing mail for millions of American service members and civilians. Only a handful of more than 850 members are still alive.  

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Year Since Washington Change, Native Sports Imagery Evolving

UNDATED (AP) - Washington's NFL team will not be called the Warriors or have any other Native American imagery in the new name when it's revealed next year. Today (TUE) marks one year since Washington dropped the name Redskins and the accompanying Indian head logo after 87 years amid recent pressure from sponsors and decades of criticism that both are offensive to Native Americans. Team president Jason Wright confirmed Monday that the organization had decided to disassociate from any Native American names or likenesses moving forward. Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians also plan to change their name. Baseball's Atlanta Braves, the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs have shown no indication of doing so.

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