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Headlines for Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stay at Home Orders Now in Effect for Third of Kansas Residents

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP / KPR) - "Stay at Home" and shelter-in-place orders are now in effect for about a third of the state's population - and both sides of the KC metro area.  As of this (TUE) morning, about 1 million residents -- living in five Kansas counties -- have been ordered to stay home, except for when they have to leave the house to take care of essential business: like buying food or seeking medical care.  The "Stay-at-Home" orders are designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. More Kansas counties announced stay-at-home orders Monday, as the state health secretary predicted a steep growth in the number of coronavirus cases in the coming days.  

Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth and Douglas counties had already issued stay at home orders.  Doniphan and Miami counties then followed suit. Residents should stay in unless they’re getting health care or groceries, or doing other essential activities.  As of Monday afternoon, the state had more than 80 known cases of COVID-19.  The secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Dr. Lee Norman, expects that number to hit between 300 and 400 in another week.  Only a small fraction of the population has been tested, so the true number of Kansans with the virus is certainly higher.  Kansas is now limiting gatherings statewide to 10 people and Governor Laura Kelly is urging residents to help the slow the spread of the disease. 

The Kansas News Service maintains this resource about the pandemic: Updated Regularly: What Kansans Need to Know About COVID-19 and Coronavirus   
And check out this Coronavirus Information and Resources Guide, prepared by Kansas Public Radio.  


Kansas Residents Hunker Down, Economic Fallout Continues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Aircraft parts maker Spirit Aerosystems temporarily suspended production work for Boeing at its Wichita facility Tuesday amid an outbreak of the coronavirus that continues to send shock waves through the economy and has about one-third of Kansas residents under a shelter-in-place order. The move came after Boeing announced Monday that it was suspending operations at its Seattle area facilities. Meanwhile, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday that she will tighten restrictions on public gatherings of more than 10 people. Kelly last week banned gatherings of more than 50 people.


Two More Deaths in Missouri from COVID-19

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two St. Louis-area residents are the fourth and fifth Missouri patients to die from the virus sweeping through the Midwest and aound the world.  Missouri health officials say a St. Louis woman in her 30s died from the virus.  She had just been hospitalized on Sunday.  The other death reported Monday was a St. Charles County man in his 70s.


U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Bar Insanity Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says states can prevent criminal defendants from pleading insanity without violating their constitutional rights.  Monday's decision could prompt states across the country to be more like Kansas -- and toughen standards for defendants who wish to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.  The Supreme Court's 6-to-3 decision came in a case from Kansas, where James Kraig Kahler (KAY-ler) was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, two teenage daughters and his wife's grandmother.  Kahler wanted to mount an insanity defense, but Kansas -- along with Idaho, Montana and Utah -- don't allow it. Alaska also limits the insanity defense.  


Lawrence School Board Lowers Standards for Graduation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) -- The Lawrence school board voted unanimously Monday to lower its standards for high school graduation. By dropping two elective credits, Lawrence schools now match the state’s *minimum* requirement. Kansas school buildings are now closed until fall to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Shannon Kimball is a Lawrence school board member. She says the move to online learning will impact graduation rates, even if she doesn’t yet know how.  The state’s graduation requirements haven’t changed, although educators are still working out how to grade students from a distance.


ACLU Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination at Highland Community College

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union claims a small Kansas community college directed its coaches to recruit more white athletes.  The ACLU filed a lawsuit alleging Highland Community College targeted black prospective students with excessive scrutiny, such as background checks, before offering them scholarships.  The federal lawsuit claims Highland instituted a plan six months ago to reduce the number of black students at its campus in northeast Kansas.  The lawsuit also contends the school's strategy included expelling black students for minor or bogus infractions and singling them out for dorm room and vehicle searches.   


Douglas County Health Officer: Be Safe, Stay Home and Follow These Guidelines

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) –  In addition to the Stay at Home order now in effect, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino has issued other orders that include the prohibition of public gatherings of more than 10 people.  In addition, restaurants, dining facilities, bars, taverns, night clubs and movie theaters were ordered to close through April 1. Restaurants can still offer carryout, drive-through and delivery services.

Dr. Marcellino has also strongly recommends that:

  • Daycare centers close while schools are closed.
  • Retirement communities and long-term care centers limit visitors.
  • People avoid all kinds of social gatherings, especially those with 10 people or more.  

Dr. Marcellino has also strongly recommends that people:

  • Avoid non-essential trips and stay home as much as possible.
  • Practice good hygiene and frequently wash their hands.
  • Avoid touching their face. (Because the virus enters the body through the eyes, nostrils and mouth.)
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue.
  • Practice social distancing: Maintain six feet of space between themselves and other people IF they must go out in public at all.  Remember, a Stay at Home order will remain in effect for a month - from midnight tonight (MON) until April 24.


Kansas Massage Therapist Accused of Misconduct with Athletes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas authorities are alleging a massage therapist already facing a child sex charge also engaged in inappropriate behavior toward at least six female athletes, including unwanted touching during massages. Chancellor Doug Girard and Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a joint statement that investigators also found an athletic trainer was aware of at least some of the incidents involving Shawn P. O'Brien but failed to appropriately report the conduct. His attorney says he was unaware of university's statement and had no comment on it. He said his client is innocent of the earlier child sex charge.


Man Dies in Accident at Tyson Meats Plant in Western Kansas

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 30-year-old Garden City man died at a Tyson Fresh Meats plant in western Kansas. Finney County authorities say Kendrick Gregory was injured early Monday at the plant in Garden City. The sheriff's office says Gregory was doing maintenance on an assembly line when he apparently was pulled up by his harness against a take-away belt. A co-worker was able to cut Gregory free. He died later at a Garden City hospital. The investigation is continuing. 


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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