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Headlines for Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Kansas COVID-19 Cases Jump Again, Nearing 110,000; Deaths Exceed 1,200 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has now surpassed 109,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the state reporting more than 5,600 new cases since Monday. The state has now recorded 109,225 coronavirus cases, including 1,215 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began.  Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is urging all Kansans to wear face masks in public and to practice social distancing.  The next online update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected to be released Friday.

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Kansas Sets COVID-19 Records; Counties Struggle with Tracing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has set records again for new coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations as some local officials report having trouble getting people to cooperate in finding others who’ve been exposed. Several counties are reporting having trouble tracing who has been exposed to the virus because other people won’t provide enough or even any information about their close contacts. The state health department added another 5,672 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Monday to the state’s tally for the pandemic, increasing it to 109,225. The state saw a record average of 2,430 new cases a day for the seven days ending Wednesday.

Kansas Counties, Biggest School District Set New Pandemic Restrictions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The largest public school district in Kansas has scrapped plans to allow its middle and high school students to attend some in-person classes amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Wichita and across the state.  The Wichita school board decided this week that middle and high school students will continue to take classes remotely until the end of the semester.  Three counties also have imposed new restrictions inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.  Sedgwick and Harvey counties, in south-central Kansas, limited public gatherings.  And in northeast Kansas, Jefferson County imposed a mask mandate.  The state is currently seeing large numbers of new coronavirus cases. 

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Missouri's State Health Director Hopeful Vaccine is Coming Soon

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Will a coronavirus vaccine be available before the end of the year?  Missouri's state health director seems to think so.  Randall Williams told a legislative panel that he thinks the first doses might come as soon as next month.  Williams told the House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that he expects Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be ready for limited distribution by mid-December. Meanwhile, the state health department cited 4,256 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 216,697 since the onset of the pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached yet another high, with 2,055 statewide.

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KU Providing Free COVID-19 Testing for People Returning to High-Risk Households

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - The University of Kansas is offering additional COVID-19 testing options for certain campus community members who are preparing to head home after the end of in-person classes later this month.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that in-person instruction at KU will end on Tuesday, November 24, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, and students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester at that time.  In an email message to the campus, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said any students, faculty or staff members whose travel plans require a negative test — either mandated by an airline or their final destination — will be able to get tested. Additionally, any students, faculty or staff who are returning to a household with a person who is at high risk for complications from COVID-19 — as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — may receive a test. 

Testing will be available from November 16 to November 22 at KU Parking Lot 91, north of the Spencer Museum of Art. Those who qualify should not get tested, however, if they have previously tested positive for the virus within the past 90 days.  Qualifying individuals may receive a free saliva test by signing up for an appointment at covidtest.ku.edu.

After Thanksgiving, there will be a week for students to study for finals, which will then be conducted remotely, as they were during the spring 2020 semester.  KU’s spring 2021 semester will begin later than normal because of the pandemic, and it is scheduled to start February 1, with no spring break currently planned.

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Aide: U.S. Senator Moran Plans to Seek Re-Election in 2022

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran plans to seek re-election in 2022. Moran spokesman Tom Brandt confirmed the two-term Republican senator’s intent Wednesday, two days after tweeting that Moran planned to run again. The 66-year-old Moran has faced questions about whether he’d seek to unseat Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in two years or even retire. But Democrats failed to flip enough seats in this year’s elections to win an outright majority in the Senate. Moran was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving 14 years representing the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas. His campaign fund had more than $2.4 million in cash at the end of September.

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Former Lawrence Banker Gets 5 Years in Federal Prison for Loan Fraud

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former Lawrence banker has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for a loan fraud that caused millions of dollars in losses. Troy Gregory was sentenced Tuesday and also ordered to pay $4.7 million in restitution. Gregory, a former officer of University National Bank in Lawrence, was found guilty in August 2019 of four counts of bank fraud and two counts of making false statements. Prosecutors say in 2007, Gregory tried to secure a $15.2 million construction loan for bank customers who wanted to build an apartment complex in Junction City. He misrepresented the strength of the borrowers and used some of the money for other purposes.

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Police: 21-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot in Wichita Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 21-year-old man has been fatally shot inside a Wichita home. Police say in a news release that the shooting happened Monday afternoon in a neighborhood on the east side of the city. Officers called to the home discovered that Christopher Bell had been shot there and had already been taken by a private vehicle to a hospital, where he died. Investigators say Bell was inside the home when a disturbance broke out, and someone fired several shots, hitting Bell. Police say no one else inside the house was hurt. Police say they know the identity of the gunman, but had not announced by Wednesday morning that an arrest had been made.

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Police: Man Found Shot to Death in Blue Springs Fast Food Restaurant; 3 People Arrested

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City say a man has been shot to death inside a fast-food restaurant. Police in Blue Springs say the shooting happened Monday night at a McDonald's on Highway 7, south of Interstate 70. Blue Springs police said in a news release Tuesday morning that officers called to the scene found 19-year-old Harry Bowers, of Lee’s Summit, inside a restaurant bathroom with gunshot wounds. Bowers was taken to an area hospital, where he died. Police say three people suspected in the shooting have been arrested.

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Kansas City Man Sentenced in Fatal Police Pursuit Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 33-year-old Kansas City man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after admitting that he caused a fatal crash while fleeing from police. Miguel Ayala pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder, resisting arrest and driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors said Ayala was fleeing police in February after a woman reported he tried to hit her with his car. Ayala eventually hit another vehicle. The driver, 38-year-old Rebecca White, later died from her injuries. A 3-year-old child in the victim's car also was injured but survived. Court records indicate Ayala had a blood-alcohol content of .347 after the crash.

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Man Charged After Southwest Missouri Woman Beaten to Death

REPUBLIC, Mo. (AP) — A 46-year-old southwest Missouri man has been charged with second-murder after a woman he had a relationship was beaten to death. Shane Mackey was charged after 42-year-old Racheal Sanders was found dead in her home in Republic on Monday. Court documents say Mackey and Sanders were in a relationship. Officers sent to the house found Mackey trying to give Sanders CPR in a house that was in disarray and blood spattered. Mackey reportedly gave police conflicting versions of what happened before he was arrested in Sanders' death. A probable cause statement says Mackey was arrested for domestic assault seven times between 2002 and 2013.

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Key Departures Signal Agriculture Shakeup for Capitol Hill

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The defeat of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in Minnesota and some key retirements mean a shakeup is coming for agriculture on Capitol Hill. Observers say power is likely to shift from the Midwest to the South and the coasts. Both the House and Senate agriculture committees will get new chairs. Names in the mix include lawmakers from Southern and coastal states, and urban districts. Observers say they're likely to prioritize Southern crops such as peanuts, rice and cotton over traditional Midwest concerns of corn, soybeans, sugar beets and dairy. And it likely means a new emphasis on nutrition programs that serve the poor.

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Volunteer Kansas Firefighter Dies in Crash on Way to Fight Fire

EASTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Kansas say a volunteer firefighter died in a crash while on his way to a fire over the weekend. The Leavenworth Times reports the crash happened Sunday in Leavenworth County, near Easton. The Easton Township Fire Department announced on its Facebook page that one of its volunteers "was killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident while responding to the fire." The sheriff's office says 23-year-old Johnny Ivison Jr. died in the crash after his pickup truck went off the road and rolled several times. His family says Ivison was the father of two young children.  Governor Laura Kelly has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in his honor.

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Forecast: Kansas Will Harvest Fewer Bushels of Corn but More Soybeans and Sorghum

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A new government report shows Kansas farmers are forecast to harvest 759 million bushels of corn this season, down 5% from last year's production.  But the forecast for the fall harvest of other major Kansas crops is more optimistic.  According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, sorghum production is projected at 237 million bushels, up 16% from last year. And the state's soybean harvest is forecast at 200 million bushels, up 7% when compared to a year ago.

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Plans for $75 Million Aquarium Approved for Kansas City Zoo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City parks officials have approved plans for the Kansas City Zoo to build a $75 million aquarium. The Kansas City Star says the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $500,000 in capital improves to kick off the project. Zoo executive director Randy Wisthoff says he hopes to complete designs and begin construction next year. Wisthoff says the hope is that the aquarium will open in 2023. The Friends of the Kansas City Zoo, which has been working toward the project for six years, has hired a designer for the proposed 60,000-square-foot, 600,000 gallon aquarium that will include jellyfish and sea otter exhibits and will also house a giant octopus and sharks.

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Lawrence Woman Dies After She Becomes Trapped Under Vehicle

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say a 29-year-old woman died after she was trapped under her car while it was being towed. Police spokesman Patrick Compton said the vehicle was being placed on the tow truck at the woman's home Monday when it began to roll. Compton said it's unclear why the car rolled. The woman was behind it and became trapped underneath. She was pulled from underneath the car, but lifesaving measures failed and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Compton said the death appeared to be a "tragic accident."

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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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