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Headlines for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Kansas Governor Delays Start of School, Wants Masks and Temperature Checks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has issued an order requiring masks and daily temperature checks in the state’s K-12 schools.  On Monday, Kelly laid out some some coronavirus-inspired rules that are stricter than guidelines adopted by the Republican-controlled State Board of Education. Kelly also released the text of a proposed order to delay the reopening of public and private elementary, middle and high schools for three weeks from mid-August until September 9. Kansas law requires the state school board’s approval for a delay and it is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning. The Democratic governor’s actions are inspiring criticism from Republican legislators and conservatives outside state government.  (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)

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Kansas Reports More than 23,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 307 Fatalities

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas health officials have recorded 23,334 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.  State health officials reported Monday that the virus, now confirmed in 102 of the state's 105 counties, has also claimed 307 lives. Johnson, Wyandotte, and Sedgwick Counties have the most cases. The next update is expected Wednesday.    

(Kansas health officials release new data on COVID-19 case numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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COVID-19 Outbreak Reported at Coffeyville Nursing Facility; 20 Residents, 12 Staff Members Test Positive

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (KPR) — The Montgomery County Chronicle reports 20 patients and 12 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at a nursing facility in southeastern Kansas.  Windsor Place, in Coffeyville, is the site of the latest coronavirus outbreak at a long term care facility. Monte Coffman, the executive director of Windsor Place, said that prior to late last week, the facility had zero patients and only three staff members who tested positive for the virus.  Those three employees were immediately quarantined away from the facility.  But a new round of testing over the weekend revealed that the number of positive cases had grown.  With this latest outbreak, Montgomery County’s total COVID-19 caseload soared from 74 on Friday to 108 on Monday.

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Health Officer Plans to Close Bars in Kansas's Biggest City

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A local public health official plans to close bars and restrict restaurant hours in Wichita and the surrounding area until after Labor Day. Sedgwick County Health Officer and Dr. Garold Minns is acting because of a surge in reported coronavirus cases over the past six weeks in the county that’s been far worse than the state’s spike. Minns told the county commission Tuesday that he will issue an order to close bars and nightclubs until Sept. 9 and direct restaurants to close at 10 p.m. He said he also plans to drop the limit on public gatherings from 45 to 15.

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Stowers Institute in Kansas City Develops Saliva Test for COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A new saliva testing process for COVID-19, which promises faster results at reduced costs, is being developed by the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.  FOX4 TV reports the institute wants to expand test processing to eliminate the backlog of samples and long waits for results.  Dr. David Chao says Stowers has developed an easier test that uses saliva, instead of nasal swabs.  Swabs have been in short supply and require a healthcare professional to obtain a sample in a procedure that most find unpleasant.  Volunteers have been working at Stowers for the last three months to develop a saliva test, which uses robotic machines to automatically determine test results. With $500,000 in equipment, Stowers researchers say they can test 500 samples a day accurately, while reducing costs by two or three times what labs charge now.

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Retiring Kansas Sen. Roberts Endorses Rep. Marshall for Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Retiring Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts has declared his support for Rep. Roger Marshall as his replacement. Roberts’s endorsement Tuesday came in a string of tweets in which he praised Marshall without mentioning polarizing conservative Kris Kobach. Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and touted Marshall’s service on its House counterpart. He also said Marshall’s experience as a doctor will be helpful during the coronavirus pandemic. Marshall is an obstetrician who represents the same sprawling western and central Kansas district that Roberts did before being elected to the Senate in 1996. Marshall won the House seat in 2016.

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Spirit AeroSystems Seeks Voluntary Layoffs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems sent some employees notices about voluntary layoffs, citing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the grounding of the 737 Max. The Wichita Eagle reported the five-page notice that went out Friday says both reduced overall demand for new commercial airplanes, and that  as a result, “production rates for commercial aircraft have fallen from historic highs to much lower volumes. The notice says there is “no expectation for a quick recovery.” It is unclear how many employees are affected. The announcement follows months of layoffs and furloughs in the aviation industry.

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Police: Wichita Sex Offender Tried to Kidnap 10-Year-Old Boy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 62-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly trying to abduct a 10-year-old boy who was walking on a sidewalk in Wichita. The Wichita Police Department said Monday that 62-year-old Webb Ketcherside has been booked on suspicion of aggravated indecent solicitation of a child and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Ketcherside is accused of approaching the boy at about 4:50 p.m. Sunday, making sexually explicit comments and grabbing his arm. The boy was able to break free and run to a QuikTrip for help. An investigation led police to Ketcherside, a registered sex offender who was arrested without incident.

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Hit-and-Run Involving 3 Vehicles Kills 1, Closes Bridge

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a hit-and-run crash involving three vehicles left one driver dead and closed a bridge for hours.  Police say the crash happened around 7:30 am Monday on the 7th Street Trafficway bridge. Investigators say the crash happened when a speeding pickup truck cross the median and side-swiped car before crashing head-on with a white utility truck. Police say the male driver of the car died at the scene, while a passenger in the car and the utility truck diver were uninjured. Police say the driver of the pickup ran from the scene. Police have not announced an arrest.

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Watchdogs Eye $700 Million Relief Loan to Struggling Overland Park Trucking Firm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional watchdogs are questioning the government’s decision to award a $700 million coronavirus relief loan to a struggling trucking company on grounds its operations are critical for maintaining national security. Headquartered in Overland Park, YRC Worldwide provides transportation and logistics services, such as delivering food, electronics and other supplies to military locations around the country. The Defense Department is a major YRC client. The department sued YRC in 2018 for overcharging the government for freight carrier services and making false statements. Under terms of the loan U.S. taxpayers, through the Treasury Department, will take a 30% stake in the company. The Congressional Oversight Committee also said there appeared to be a large risk of taxpayers losing money on the investment.

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President to Honor Former Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun with Medal of Freedom
 
WASHINGTON (KPR) - The White House has announced that President Donald Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jim Ryun, an Olympian and former Kansas Congressman.  The award, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is given by the president to individuals who have made special or noteworthy contributions to the United States.  Ryun is one of the most accomplished athletes in American history.  Despite being cut from every athletic team in junior high, Ryun made the track team at Wichita East High School, where he went on to break the world record for running the mile.  He also competed in the 1964 Olympic Games.  While a student athlete at the University of Kansas, Ryun broke several more world records.  He also won the silver medal at the 1968 Mexico City Games and competed in the 1972 Munich Games. Among many other accolades, he was named ABC Wide World of Sports' Athlete of the Year.  Following his athletic career, Ryun served his home state of Kansas in the United States Congress from 1996 to 2006. He has since written three books and currently gives motivational speeches around the country.

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Kansas City Police Set Up Donation Page for Woman Who Helped Officer Shot in the Head

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) —  FOX4 TV reports that Kansas City police helped set up a GoFundMe account for a local mother who donated to an officer who was shot in the head earlier this month.  KCPD said the injured officer is recovering well.  Shetera Sims said she’s no stranger to hard times. With just $7 in her pocket, she recently tried a scratch off lottery ticket and won $100.  Sims said her daughter, Rakiya, came up with the idea of how to spend it.  “I said, ‘We should donate it to the police officer that got shot for his family,’” Rakiya said.  "It was her idea, and I went along with it,” Sims said. “She’s a special child.”  That officer was left in critical condition after the shooting incident that left a suspect dead on July 2.  Sims and her daughter felt for the officer — and police in general — for personal reasons.  Sims’ daughter, Karyia, was murdered in 2012. Sims said police solved the case and were supportive the whole way.  The donation page organized by police had raised almost $20,000 as of this (TUE) morning. 

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Kansas City Man Charged in Fatal Shooting near Children

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 40-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man is charged with second-degree murder in a shooting at a gas station. Jackson County prosecutors charged Isaac Knighten Tuesday in the death of 28-year-old Jayvon McCray.  McCray was shot Sunday at a gas station in Kansas City, Missouri. Witnesses told police Knighten was with his girlfriend and the five young children when the two men got into a confrontation after Knighten looked at McCray in a strange way. Both men were armed. Several other people became involved in the argument. Prosecutors say Knighten shot McCray several times while other people stood between them.

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U.S. Attorney: Federal Agents in Kansas City Will Be Identifiable

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The top federal prosecutor in Kansas City says any federal agents involved in an operation to reduce violent crime in the area will be clearly identifiable, unlike what has been seen in Portland, Oregon. Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in a written statement Monday that a new federal effort called Operation LeGend in Kansas City is in response to record violent crime numbers, not local protests. He says agents won't be patrolling the streets or usurping the authority of local officers. His statement comes amid clashes between protesters and camouflaged, unidentified agents in Portland.

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Kansas City Mayor Criticized for Taking Photo at Lake Without Mask or Social Distancing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Mayor Quinton Lucas says he regrets taking a picture with a group of women at the Lake of the Ozarks without wearing a mask.  FOX4 TV reports that the picture, taken over the weekend, circulated on social media.  Many criticized Kansas City’s mayor for not following his own public health advice on wearing a mask.  Lucas said he had just gotten out of the water at a public dock when a group of women from Kansas City approached him, asking to take a picture.  He said he took the photo to be polite and the entire interaction lasted about 30 seconds.  But in a statement, Lucas said his “politeness undermined the important public health message” and he regrets it.

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Kansas Congressman Blamed Voter Registration Issue on Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor says that a freshman Kansas congressman misled a sheriff’s detective by blaming staff for a problem with his state voter registration form that  led to three felony criminal charges. Republican Congressman Steve Watkins listed a Topeka UPS store postal box as his residence for voter registration purposes for more than three months starting in late August 2019. The charges against him in Shawnee County include hampering law enforcement by providing false information to the sheriff’s detective in a February interview. A deputy Shawnee County district attorney provided new details about the allegation in a Monday court filing. Watkins has called the charges “bogus.”

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AP: It's Not Easy to Review the Financial Interests of Kansas Lawmakers Online

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A review of records by The Associated Press shows that Kansas residents who want to learn about their state legislators' financial interests have about a 50% chance of finding the information online. To see a report that's not online, a resident must visit or call the secretary of state's office in Topeka and request a copy at 50 cents a page. Secretary of State Scott Schwab's office says the issue is that about half of lawmakers file the disclosures on paper rather than online, and outdated equipment prevents staff from uploading the forms to the computer system that can be quickly accessed by voters. An office spokeswoman says they're working on the issue.  (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)

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Settlement Resolves Dispute over Protests at the Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group says it has resolved a lawsuit challenging a blanket ban on signs and restrictive permits for protests at the Kansas Statehouse. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says that under the terms of the dismissal, individuals and groups no longer need a permit or a legislative sponsor to reserve space. Hand-held signs are no longer banned. And a person can only be banned from the Statehouse if they break the law, not just for a rules violation.  “Our clients got essentially everything they'd sought through the lawsuit,” said Lauren Bonds, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. “We are happy with the outcome and we are happy that Kansans can fully exercise their right to protest in the people's house.”  The litigation stems from an incident last year involving three Kansas State University students who briefly hung large banners in the Capitol rotunda saying Republican legislators who oppose expanding Medicaid have “blood on their hands.”  The students — Jonathan Cole, Katie Sullivan and Nathan Faflicki — were banned for a year from the Statehouse. The ACLU sued on their behalf.

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