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Headlines for Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Kansas Governor Extends Stay-at-Home Directive Until May 3

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday extended a stay-at-home order for all Kansas residents for an additional two weeks and called a teleconference with top legislators to consider $17 million in aid for hospitals. The Democratic governor is keeping the shelter-in-place order in place until May 3, rather than Sunday. She’s also continuing to limit in-person worship services and other religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people. That restriction has resulted in criticism from the Republican-controlled Legislature. Kelly called a meeting of the Republican-dominated State Finance Council in hopes of helping hospitals. Kansas now has 1,494 confirmed coronavirus cases and 76 COVID-19-related deaths. 

(–additional reporting–)

Kansas Governor Squeezed on Economy but Extends Restrictions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly faces increased pressure from the Republican-controlled Legislature to outline plans for reopening the state’s economy. But that pressure came Wednesday as she extended a statewide stay-at-home order and prepared to send money to hospitals struggling in the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly is keeping her shelter-in-place directive in place for all 2.9 million Kansas residents for an additional two weeks until May 3. The Democratic governor called a teleconference meeting with top leaders legislative leaders to get permission to purchase another $10 million in personal protective equipment. She also plans to provide $17 million in state funds to struggling hospitals. 

Governor Laura Kelly Extends Kansas Stay-at-Home Order for Two Weeks

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly wants her statewide stay-at-home order to last another two weeks. Kelly said today (WED) that her order will be in effect until May 3rd to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It was supposed to expire Sunday. Stay-at-home restrictions mean people should leave home only for essential business, like work, grocery shopping or seeking medical care. The state has restricted gatherings to 10 people or fewer. She says she is coordinating with Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Kansas City area mayors to decide when to pull back on stay-at-home measures. Kelly also says she’s in contact with Colorado Governor Jared Polis for the western part of the state.  Kansas has almost 1500 COVID-19 cases and more than 70 deaths, with the majority of cases in the urban counties of Johnson, Wyandotte and Sedgwick. 

Earlier reporting...

Kansas Governor May Extend Stay-at-Home Order

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The statewide stay-at-home order in effect for Kansas is supposed to expire Sunday, but Kansans will likely be asked to stay at home even longer to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  Governor Laura Kelly said in an interview today (WED) on WAMU's radio show “1A,” that she will probably extend her executive order.  An official announcement is expected later today (WED).  Governor Kelly has a regularly scheduled briefing on COVID-19 developments scheduled for 2 pm.  

The governor's stay-at-home order all but shut down a wide range of businesses across Kansas.  Stay-at-home orders mean people by and large should not leave their homes except for essential business — work, grocery shopping, medical care or taking care of family or friends who are in need. People can exercise outside, but cannot gather in groups larger than 10, a restriction that includes church services and funerals.  All states surrounding Kansas, except Nebraska, have either statewide stay-at-home orders or partial ones in place.

(The Kansas News Service (KNS) is a collaboration of Kansas Public Radio, KCUR, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio - focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to


St. Louis, KC Areas Consider Extending Stay-at-Home Orders

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Regional leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City may decide by the end of the week whether to extend stay-at-home orders in Missouri's two biggest urban areas, regardless of whether the statewide mandate is allowed to expire. Kansas City, St. Louis and their suburbs invoked stay-at-home orders several days before Republican Gov. Mike Parson issued one for the entire state that began April 6 and is set to expire April 24. Parson has been non-committal about whether the statewide order will be extended, but has cited a need to restart the economy. Missouri has recorded 4,784 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 153 deaths.


Kansas Reports 1,494 Cases of COVID-19, Including 76 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) -  As of 11 am Wednesday, state health officials reported 1,494 cases of COVID-19 from 63 counties, including 76 deaths.  There have been 342 of 1,201 cases that required hospitalization. The Kansas City and Wichita areas have the most cases.  Find more updates here.   


Kansas Governor to Meet with Lawmakers to Discuss Funding for Pandemic Costs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly called a teleconference meeting with top Kansas legislators Wednesday to consider aid for hospitals and funding to cover costs associated with the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic governor scheduled the session with legislative leaders only four days after successfully thwarting top Republicans’ attempt to revoke an order limiting in-person worship services and other religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people. She’s also faced GOP criticism as the state Department of Labor has struggled to handle a huge surge in unemployment claims from jobless workers. 


FBI: Government's Response to Virus Spurred Would-Be Bomber Who Considered Attack on KU Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Newly unsealed court documents say a Missouri man who was planning to bomb a Kansas City-area hospital was distressed by the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Timothy Wilson, of Raymore, died March 24 in a firefight with FBI agents. The violent take-down followed a long-running domestic terrorism investigation that began in 2019. The Kansas City Star reports that Wilson considered an attack on the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, before settling on a plan to attack Belton Regional Medical Center. Investigators say he was motivated by racial, religious and anti-government animus, and moved up his timeline as the coronavirus made its way to Missouri.


Kansas Supreme Court Cancels Arguments on Releasing Inmates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has canceled arguments from attorneys over a civil rights' group attempt to force the state to release prison inmates with preexisting medical conditions making them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. The high court acted Tuesday night with arguments originally set for Wednesday afternoon in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas for seven inmates at state prisons in Ellsworth, Lansing  and Topeka. The Supreme Court sent the case to district court in Leavenworth County, home to the Lansing prison. The Supreme Court concluded that there were disputes about facts that needed to be settled before the state's highest court weighed in on the matter.


Kansas Emergency Workers Seek Help Responding to Virus Outbreak

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Three groups that represent paramedics and firefighters have written to Governor 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.


Another Disturbance at a Kansas Prison, 2nd Incident Within One 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 marked 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 rampaged through offices and set small fires.


Kansas Works to Fix Buggy System for Filing Unemployment Claims

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.


2 Hurt After Floor Collapses at Kansas State's Hale Library

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State University says two workers sustained minor injuries when part of a floor collapsed at Hale Library.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that contractors had been pouring a new floor when the collapse happened around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. The collapse involved an area of the third floor that measured about 20 feet by 20 feet wide. The two injured people returned to work after being evaluated by Riley County Emergency Medical Services. Neither worked for the university. 


Ex-Kansas City Officer Accused of Lying About Being Shot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former Kansas City police officer who said he was shot in the chest last fall while patrolling a shopping center has been charged with false reporting. The Kansas City Star reports that 53-year-old Kelly Sapp was suspended from his job after investigators questioned his story about being shot September 14 while he moonlighted as a security guard. Police swarmed the area looking for a shooter after Sapp radioed he needed help. Sapp said he had been shot by an unknown assailant as he investigated noises coming from a tree line near the shopping center. Investigators later determined the evidence gathered at the scene didn't match Sapp's story.


Missouri River - One of the Two Largest American Rivers Topping New List 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.


Justice Department Takes Church's Side in 1st Amendment Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has weighed in on a local Mississippi case involving a Christian church that says its religious freedoms were violated. Temple Baptist Church in Greenville has been holding drive-in services for congregants during the coronavirus outbreak. City leaders argue that the services violate stay-at-home orders because church gatherings are not considered essential and could have put people's lives in jeopardy. Church officials believe they have been singled out for their religion, especially after eight police officers were sent last weekend to ticket the faithful, $500 apiece, for attending services. The Justice Department took the side of the church on Tuesday.


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.


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

WICHITA, Kan.  (AP) — 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 am 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.


Shawnee Mission Teacher Charged with Child Sex Crime

SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeastern Kansas say a Shawnee Mission elementary teacher has been charged with a child sex crime. The Kansas City Star reports that 63-year-old Kim Zier, who worked as a fifth-grade teacher at Pawnee Elementary School before being placed on leave, s charged in Johnson County District Court with one count of aggravated indecent liberties involving a child. Investigators say he is accused of lewdly fondling or touching a child under the age of 14 on Jan. 28. Zier was arrested Monday and charged the same day. He is scheduled to appear in court again April 22.


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 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.


Man Whose Burglary Conviction Was Overturned Awarded $240,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who spent nearly two years behind bars before his 1987 burglary conviction was reversed by the Kansas Supreme Court has been awarded nearly $240,000. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday in a news release that it will not appeal a Sedgwick County Court ruling that Bobby Harper is entitled to compensation. Harper also was granted a certificate of innocence, along with education and counseling benefits. Lawmakers passed the wrongful compensation statute in 2018.


For Meat Plant Workers, Virus Makes a Hard Job Perilous

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — An cluster of coronavirus cases at a South Dakota pork plant has highlighted the susceptibility of meat processing workers, who stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the line and congregate in crowded spaces. The Smithfield Foods plant has reported 518 infections in employees and another 126 in people connected to them. Because the workers who slaughter and pack the nation’s meat are vulnerable, so, too, is the supply of that meat. Union leaders wish more had been done sooner at the Smithfield plant. The company says difficulty in getting masks and thermal scanners led to delays in implementing safety measures. But it added hand-sanitizing stations and was scanning employee temperatures before the plant closed.


Judge Cancels Permit for Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has canceled a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that’s expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska. The ruling Wednesday marks another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays. The judge says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider the pipeline’s effect on endangered species. Attorneys say the ruling won't shut down work that's started at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Montana. But pipeline sponsor TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across hundreds of rivers and streams along Keystone’s 1,200-mile route.


WSU Seeks to Raze Cessna Stadium, Build Smaller Version

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is seeking to tear down its 74-year-old Cessna Stadium and replace it with a new smaller, multi-purpose stadium. The Wichita Eagle reports that the university has asked the Kansas Board of Regents to allow it to raze the 30,000-seat stadium. Cessna is currently home to the Wichita State track and field team and is also home the nation’s largest high school track and field meet. The proposal leaves in limbo what would happen to the Kansas high school state track and field meet, which has hosted around 3,500 athletes for all six championship meets for boys and girls for the last four decades.


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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