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Headlines for Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Kansas Exceeds 3700 Cases of COVID-19, Including 125 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —  As of 9 am Wednesday morning, Kansas health officials had recorded 3,738 cases of COVID-19, including 125 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 78 of the state's 105 counties.  Get the latest updates here.  


Kansas Has 1st Prison Virus Death; Meatpacking Cases Up

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has reported its first death in a prison coronavirus outbreak and saw the number of positive cases in six meatpacking plants rise to 378 as the state works to reopen its economy. But Dr. Lee Norman, the state's health director, said the good news was that the number of influenza-like illnesses reported in the state was "dropping like a rock." He also noted that most of the infected meat packing workers were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. None have died and, at most, one is hospitalized.


Prison Infections in Kansas Increase 

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Worried relatives are demanding that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly release some prison inmates early to allow for better social distancing amid a coronavirus outbreak at one state facility. New numbers released Wednesday show 75 staff at the Lansing Correctional Facility have tested positive, 18% of the prison’s workforce. Fifteen of them have recovered and returned to work. Another 75 inmates have tested positive, and one of them died over the weekend. Two inmates from a work-release facility in Wichita were moved to Lansing after testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. 


Federal Court: Kansas Can't Require Voters to Show Citizenship Proof

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel has ruled that a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote is unconstitutional. The ruling Wednesday by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholds a judge’s injunction that had banned its use. The panel found in two consolidated appeals challenging the Kansas statute that the state law violates the Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act. The panel upheld the permanent injunction that U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had imposed prohibiting enforcement of the requirement. The legal fight has drawn national attention as Republicans pursue voter ID laws aimed at preventing in-person voter fraud.


Topeka Police Investigate Overnight Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka are investigating the overnight shooting death of man near the city's Freedom Valley Park.  Officers were called to the area around 11:30 pm Tuesday for a 911 call reporting gunshots. Arriving officers found a person suffering from critical injuries who died at the scene.  This (WED) morning, police identified the victim as 37-year-old Mark Edwards, of Topeka.  Police are asking the public for any information about the fatal shooting.


UPDATE: Crash Kills Longtime Wichita Radio Personality Don Hall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Longtime Wichita radio host and Wichita State University basketball announcer Don Hall has died in a crash at a busy Wichita intersection. Hall's employer, Entercom Communications, shared the news of his death Wednesday with employees in an email. The 70-year-old Hall was a morning show co-host at KEYN Radio in Wichita, and according to the station, had worked for more than 45 years in radio in Kansas. Police say the crash happened around 4:30 a.m., when a driver ran a red light and hit Hall's vehicle. Hall died at the scene, and police arrested 42-year-old Ray Watkins on suspicion of second-degree murder. Police believe Watkins was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the crash.

(–earlier reporting–)

Early-Morning Fatal Crash Shuts Down Wichita Intersection

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE-TV) — A fatal crash left one man dead and temporarily shut down a busy Wichita intersection. Television station KAKE reports that the crash happened around 4:30 this (WED) morning at Rock Road and Kellogg Drive.  Investigators believe the crash occurred when one driver ran a red light, smashing into another vehicle. Officials say a man in his 70s died at the scene of the crash. Authorities say the other driver, believed by police to be impaired, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Police have not yet released the names of those involved in the crash.


Kansas State University Offers Coronavirus Tests; Reopening Plan Unveiled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has launched coronavirus testing for students, faculty and staff as confirmed cases in Kansas rose by 4.9% on Tuesday to nearly 3,500. Kansas State said Tuesday that it can test up to 270 people a day and is providing testing for students, faculty or staff who show coronavirus symptoms or who have been in contact with an infected person. Meanwhile, Senate President Susan Wagle unveiled a proposal for reopening the state's economy by allowing most businesses to operate at half capacity. Such decisions rest with Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Wagle is a Wichita Republican and frequent Kelly critic.


K-State Salary, Athletic Department Cuts to Save $3.5 Million

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, football coach Chris Klieman and basketball coach Bruce Weber have agreed to salary reductions along with every athletic department employee making more than $100,000 annually. Taylor said in a statement Wednesday that the cuts, made to help deal with a budget crunch brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin with the new fiscal year starting July 1. Klieman and Weber agreed to 13% reductions, employees who make more than $150,000 will have 10% cuts and those making more than $100,000 will have 5% cuts. The salary reductions alone are expected to save Kansas State about $1.5 million. The athletic department as a whole will also cut expenses by 10% for an additional savings of $2 million for the upcoming year.


Missouri Governor: Hospitalizations Down Sharply in Most Areas of State

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson says coronavirus hospitalizations across his state are down significantly since peaking in early April, a key parameter in allowing the state to reopen. The Republican governor has outlined several metrics that he considers important in his decision to allow businesses and organizations to reopen starting Monday.  He said this week that an important part of the data is the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Parson says that statewide, hospitalizations peaked at 1,142 on April 7. Since then, hospitalizations have declined dramatically everywhere except the St. Louis area.


Missouri Will Reopen Businesses Monday, with Guidelines

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson says businesses and social events across the state will be able to reopen next Monday, with certain social distancing requirements. The governor announced Monday the first phase of the state's reopening will begin May 4. Parson said citizens and businesses must continue to follow social distancing requirements, and local governments may impose stricter guidelines. There will be no limits on crowd sizes at social gatherings if 6 feet of distance can be maintained between individuals. And the governor said some businesses will need to take additional precautions, such as limiting occupancy.  


Kansas Governor to Announce Plans This Week for Reopening the State

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) —  Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she will announce her plan for reopening the state Thursday afternoon.  The governor said Monday she's been speaking with different industry sectors, health officials and state lawmakers to develop the state's recovery plan.  She expects to release details of her plan Thursday afternoon.  


Coronavirus Pandemic Draws Players’ Attention Away from Lottery, Fueling 25% Drop in Kansas Ticket Sales

TOPEKA, Kan (TCJ) — The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the coronavirus pandemic exacted a 25% reduction in Kansas Lottery sales in March and vaporized two-thirds of investment by lottery players in the popular Powerball and Super Kansas Cash games.  The 1,700 convenience and grocery retailers in Kansas involved in direct sales of lottery tickets were allowed to operate amid the pandemic, but about 120 closed up or decided not to sell game tickets.  The coronavirus’ bearish influence in March resulted in total lottery sales of $22.3 million in Kansas.  The state’s March 2019 figure was $29.9 million, placing the year-to-year decline at 25.3%. In March, Super Kansas Cash led the nosedive with a 74% reduction in sales. It was followed by Powerball’s slide of 67%.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Lottery suspended gaming operations at the four state-owned casinos on March 17 to comply with Governor Laura Kelly’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. The directive applied at Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas Crossing in Pittsburg, Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane and Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City.  The shuttered casinos generate $400 million in annual revenue and represent a substantial source of cash for municipal and state governments.


Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge in Missouri Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A woman has pleaded guilty to a federal charge arising from the death of a developmentally disabled man whose body was found encased in concrete in Missouri. Mary Paulo admitted on Tuesday that she falsified documents to cover up the death of Carl DeBrodie, whose body was discovered in a storage unit in Fulton in April 2017. Authorities believe he died months before his body was found. According to the plea, Paulo signed several documents saying she had seen and cared DeBrodie when she had not. Paulo's mother, father and brother previously pleaded guilty to various charges related in the case.


Central Kansas Town Mayor Says Tornado Sirens Unreliable

NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — In the heart of Kansas and tornado country, officials in the town of Nickerson say they're facing the danger of an unreliable tornado siren system. Newly-elected Nickerson Mayor Peggy Ruebke tells Wichita station KSN that the sirens didn't sound when the town last had a tornado threat last year. Ruebke says the county volunteer fire department is in charge of sounding the sirens in town and that they have had some problems and malfunctions with the system. Fixing or replacing the aging siren system could cost thousands of dollars. Ruebke says the city plans to address the issue at its May council meeting.


Woman Motorist Charged After KC Police Say She Ran Down Man, Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City have charged a woman who is accused of repeatedly and intentionally running over and killing a man with his own car, then running down and injuring a witness who called police.  The Kansas City Star reports that 32-year-old Sasha Waloke is charged with second-degree murder, assault and two counts of armed criminal action in the Saturday night incident. Police say 68-year-old Larry Green, of Kansas City, died at the scene and was the owner of the car Waloke is accused of using to kill him. Waloke is being held in lieu of $200,000 bond.


Coast Guard, Ripley Entertainment Criticized in Boat Crash

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — National federal safety regulators say actions by the owners of a tourist boat that sank in Missouri in 2018 and the U.S. Coast Guard contributed to the tragedy that killed 17 people. The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday if the Coast Guard had followed recommendations for fixing small passenger boats that it has pushed for 18 years, the duck boat likely would not have sunk. The Coast Guard said last week it will recommend that canopies and side curtains be removed from amphibious tour vehicles known as stretch duck boats like the one that sank at Table Rock Lake.


Groups Sow Doubt About COVID Vaccine Before One Even Exists

NEW YORK (AP) — Public health experts say a vaccine may be the best chance of stopping the coronavirus. Yet even though it could be months or years before a working vaccine is ready, groups that have spread misinformation about immunizations in the past are raising doubts. Some claim vaccine trials will be dangerously rushed; others say better treatments are being ignored to enrich vaccine makers. Then there are more far-reaching claims that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to use a vaccine to inject microchips into people or reduce the world's population. Experts say such claims could prove lethal if they undermine support for vaccines.


40 KU Leaders Take 10% Pay Cuts in Wake of Virus-Related Economic Downturn

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KAKE-TV) — The University of Kansas has announced that 40 of its top-paid employees, including its chancellor, will take temporary 10% pay cuts to help cushion the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Wichita station KAKE reports that KU Chancellor Douglas Girod announced the cuts in a letter this week. The letter says he, the chancellor's cabinet, vice provosts, deans and department heads will take the salary reduction for six months. Girod says the cuts will generate $853,000 in savings for the university and that the money will be redeployed for urgent needs. Also taking the 10% pay cut are head men's basketball coach Bill Self, head football coach Les Miles and Athletic Director Jeff Long.


Democrat Voter Turnout Up After Switch to Mail-in Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Turnout is on the upswing since the Democratic party in Kansas switched from a presidential caucus to an all-mail primary. The Kansas City Star reports that the party already had processed 138,430 ballots as of Monday evening, with several days of voting left to go. That is compared to a turnout of 39,266 voters in 2016, when caucus goers went for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The party will tabulate votes after it processes the ballots delivered on Saturday, the deadline for accepting them, before assigning 41 delegates.


Woman Charged in Deadly Shooting of Her Boyfriend in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been charged in the deadly shooting of her boyfriend. KAKE-TV reports that 36-year-old Bobbie Williams is charged with second-degree murder in the April 23 death of Blake Mayes. She, along with 51-year-old acquaintance William Moore, also are charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. Both made first appearances Tuesday. Police investigators say the shooting happened after a disturbance occurred between Mayes, Williams and another acquaintance. Police arrested Moore in Wichita and Williams in the Topeka area over the weekend. They are still trying to find the second acquaintance.


Battered by Floods, U.S. River Communities Try New Remedies

ARNOLD, Mo. (AP) — Some communities in the U.S. heartland are taking a more natural approach to preventing the kinds of floods that have devastated the region in recent years. For more than a century, flood control has relied mostly on man-made structures such as levees and walls to keep rivers in place. As climate change brings more extreme weather, the new idea is to let rivers behave more naturally. It means keeping some waterfront areas vacant or using them as parkland so no great harm is done when the rivers overflow.  In rural areas, officials are considering moving levees farther back to give rivers more room to roam.


Kansas City DB Bashaud Breeland Arrested in South Carolina

YORK, S.C. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland has been arrested in South Carolina for resisting arrest and other offenses. Breeland, who is from Charlotte, was arrested in York County, just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Breeland was also charged with driving with an open container of alcohol, possession of marijuana or hash and driving without a license. Breeland had seven tackles and an interception in the Chiefs' 31-20 Super Bowl win over San Francisco two months ago.


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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