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Headlines for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As Virus Cases Surge, Kansas Wants People Home, Feds to Act

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's top health official is frustrated with people looking to get around local stay-at-home orders meant to check the spread of the coronavirus, while Gov. Laura Kelly has an issue with the federal government. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Kansas jumped Wednesday by about 30 in a single day and approached 130 with three COVID-19-related deaths. State health secretary Lee Norman said he expects the number to approach 400 by the end of March and that makes social distancing and self-isolating important. Kelly said the U.S. government should “get their act together” and require industries to manufacture medical supplies. 

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KDHE Secretary Warns: "This is Not a Game"

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's top public health official says he is frustrated that people are trying to exploit exceptions in local stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Dr. Lee Norman warned Kansans Wednesday that “this is not a game” and said residents need to take the virus seriously. State health officials said Kansas now has more than 120 cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. Norman said he expects that number to reach 400 by the end of the month. Also Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly signed a state budget that includes $65 million that could be used to fight the coronavirus. 

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More than Half of All Kansans Sheltering in Place at Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP / KPR) — More than half of the state's residents are adjusting to being at home, almost all the time, and for many... around the clock. More than 50% of Kansas residents have now been ordered to stay at home and shelter in place as the state continues to grapple with the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties ordered their residents to stay home. And on Thursday, Franklin County will do the same. All told so far, 11 Kansas counties are under "Stay at Home" orders or soon will be. The orders are designed to keep residents at home - unless they must leave for essential services, like groceries or medical care. In addition to Shawnee, Sedgwick and Franklin counties, here are the other Kansas counties affected by "Stay at Home" orders: Atchison, Doniphan, Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, Morris and Wyandotte. Governor Laura Kelly has not issued a statewide order but she said Monday it might become "unavoidable" as more cases are reported. As of Tuesday, Kansas was reporting about 100 cases of COVID-19 with two deaths.

The Kansas News Service maintains this resource about the pandemic: Updated Regularly: What Kansans Need to Know About COVID-19 and Coronavirus   
 
KPR's Coronavirus Information and Resources Guide
 
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3rd Coronavirus Death Reported in Kansas Amid Closures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A third coronavirus death has been reported in Kansas as more than half of the state's residents are facing orders to stay at home except for essential services, such as buying groceries or receiving health care. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, announced Tuesday night that the latest victim is a man in his 70s who tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Kansas was reporting at least 126 positive cases as of Wednesday. Two other deaths had been reported previously in the Kansas City area.

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Data: Most Kansans, Missourians Heeding Stay at Home Orders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) — A new tool using cell phone movement data suggests that many people in Kansas and Missouri are taking stay-at-home orders seriously. The data released by a Norway-based company called Unacast shows data for the entire U.S. People in both Kansas and Missouri have reduced their movement by about a third in the last two weeks. Johnson County, Kansas, which has been identified to have "community spreading" of COVID-19 has seen one of the larger drops in the state, with residents moving about 40% less. However, both states overall rank below the national average, which is also about a 40% drop in movement.

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Kansas Unemployment Surges Along with Spread of Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — The Kansas agency that handles unemployment claims is being overwhelmed by calls. Tens of thousands of Kansans have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. The Kansas Department of Labor hasn’t seen such call volume since the Great Recession of 2008. Online applications are also pouring in. Kansans filed 24,000 claims last week compared to 18-hundred the week before. And they’re up almost 2,000% over this time last year. The state has $985 million reserved to pay claims with more money on the way from the federal government. Brett Flachsbarth (Flash-barth) is the deputy secretary of the labor department. He says the surge in claims in Kansas occurred almost overnight. It's a signal that the state's unemployment rate, one of the lowest in the nation, is about to soar. (Discover more at ksnewsservice.org)

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More Economic Fallout from Virus, as Kansas Residents Hunker Down

WICHITA, Kan. (AP / KPR) — Beyond thousands of new unemplyment claims, there's been even more economic fallout from the coronavirus this week. Aircraft parts maker Spirit Aerosystems temporarily suspended production work for Boeing at its Wichita facility Tuesday, amid an outbreak of the virus that continues to send shock waves through the economy. The move came after Boeing announced Monday that it was suspending operations at its Seattle area facilities. Meanwhile, like nearly a dozen other Kansas counties, Sedgwick County has now ordered its citizens to remain at home, except when seeking essential services. This latest "Stay at Home" order means more than half of the state's 2.9 million residents are under such orders. In addition to Sedgwick County, Stay at Home orders are now in effect for the following counties: Atchison, Doniphan, Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, Morris, Shawnee and Wyandotte. Franklin County will be added to the list starting Thursday.

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KCI Terminal Construction Continues Despite Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, MO. (KCUR) —  While many businesses in the Kansas City metro have suspended operations due to the coronavirus, it's business as usual so far on construction of a new terminal at KCI Airport. Building the new terminal remains on schedule amid the metro-wide coronavirus shutdown, says Airport spokesman Joe McBride. Project developer Edgemoor has issued safety protocols, but since the work is outside, McBride says social distancing recommendations are not difficult and no layoffs are anticipated. "Nearly 900-million dollars in bonds were issued last year and that's enough to keep the project going forward into the future and so that's not going to be a problem,” McBride said.  He also said the projected completion date for the new terminal hasn't changed. It’s still set for the spring of 2023.

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FBI: 1 Dead After Shooting Involving Agent Near Kansas City

BELTON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say one person is dead after a shooting involving an FBI agent south of Kansas City. The FBI said in a statement that the shooting happened Tuesday in Belton. The Kansas City Star reports that FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the person who was shot died at a hospital. No one else was hurt. The FBI released no other details, including why agents responded to the area and what led up to the shooting.

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With Isolation, Abuse Activists Fear an "Explosive Cocktail"

UNDATED(AP) — Families across the country and the world are hunkering down at home during these days of isolation. That means another danger that's less obvious than the coronavirus - a potential spike in domestic violence. It's a time when victims are spending day and night trapped at home with their abusers. They've got no idea when it will end, and fewer ways to ask for help. In cities and towns everywhere, concern is high and meaningful numbers are hard to come by.

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Missouri Woman Who Died of Coronavirus Worked for Red Cross

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The youngest of the eight people to die of the coronavirus outbreak in Missouri was a 31-year-old Red Cross employee who was buried as her family watched from their cars. The American Red Cross Missouri-Arkansas Region said that besides the death of biomedical services employee Jazmond Dixon in St. Louis, one other Red Cross worker tested positive and another staff member is "presumed to be positive through a medical assessment." Dixon was buried Tuesday. Governor Mike Parson has asked President Donald Trump to approve a federal disaster declaration that would allow the state to receive federal assistance to help the unemployed and to remove biohazardous materials.

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2 More Residents of Springfield Assisted-Living Center Die

KANSAS CITY, Mo.(AP) — Two more residents of a southwest Missouri assisted-living center have died from the coronavirus. That's brings the number of deaths in Missouri to eight. On Tuesday, the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Clay Goddard, announced the deaths of two women, one in her 70s and one in her 90s. Both were residents of Morningside East in Springfield. The number of positive coronavirus cases in Missouri grew to more than 250. State officials are attributing some of the increase to more testing.

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KU: Massage Therapist Inappropriately Touched Female 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 Girod 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. O'Brien's 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. (Read more about this case in the Lawrence Journal-World. Then, please subscribe.  We do.)   

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Bill Braum, Ice Cream and Burger Chain Founder, Dead at 92

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP / KPR) — The Braum's Ice Cream company says its founder, Bill Braum, has died. He was 92. The company says Braum died Monday at his home in Tuttle, Oklahoma. Bill Braum grew up in Empora (Kansas), working for the small butter and milk processing plant his father ran. He inherited the plant, but later sold it. Before launching Braum's, he started the Peter Pan Ice Cream company, with store locations across Kansas. Braum launched the chain bearing his name in Oklahoma in 1968. The chain has grown to nearly 300 stores since then, with locations in Kansas, Okalhoam, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.
 
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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 while performing maintenance on an assembly line at the plant in Garden City. He died at a local hospital. An investigation is underway.  

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Missouri Judge: Clay County Violated Law Denying Reporter's Request

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has ruled Clay County violated a Missouri transparency law by denying a reporter their request to inspect government records. Judge Roger Prokes' ruling on Monday states Clay County committed two violations of the Missouri Sunshine Law when it rejected a Kansas City Star reporter copies of taxpayers bills to see how much they spend on outside lawyers. An assistant county administrator said the county plans an appeal. A lawyer representing The Star in the lawsuit, said the judge’s decision supports Clay County taxpayers' suspicions and they will be filing a request to find out how much Clay County taxpayers spent to defend the lawsuit.

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Missouri Newspaper Trims Print Publication During Crisis

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — The Southeast Missourian newspaper in Cape Girardeau is temporarily suspending three days of print publication, citing the economic impact of the coronavirus. Publisher Jon Rust said in Monday's edition that the newspaper will be printed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but the Southeast Missourian will bulk up online content. Local stories will be published both online and in the print editions. A story in the Southeast Missourian cited a "steep drop-off in newspaper pre-prints and advertising, caused by store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic." Pre-prints are advertising inserts, typically from big retailers like Macy's or Kohl's.

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Court Filing: KU Football Coach 'Encouraged' NCAA Rule Violations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Athletics Inc. contends in a newly unsealed court filing that it has evidence former football coach David Beaty “allowed and encouraged NCAA violations” while at the University of Kansas. The memo was filed by the university's lawyers in January and unsealed this past week. It says those alleged violations have “resulted in several hundred thousand" dollars in legal fees for Kansas Athletics. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the filing includes transcripts of interviews with players and members of the football staff that the university says suggest that NCAA rule violations occurred under Beaty.

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K-State's 2nd-Leading Scorer Cartier Diarra Leaves School

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University guard Cariter Diarra is leaving the basketball program with the intention of turning professional. Diarra is leaving open the option of transferring to another school for his senior season. Wildcats coach Bruce Weber says in a statement that his leading primary ball-handler and second-leading scorer will graduate this spring. That would allow Diarra to play elsewhere next season without having to redshirt. Diarra was often seen at odds with Weber during a difficult season in Manhattan though both brushed off their verbal spats as simply heat-of-the-moment situations.

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