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Headlines for Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Kansas COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Rage; Total Number of Cases Approaching 130,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded more than 128,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,300 virus-related deaths.  The state health department reported today (WED) that Kansas had identified 128,594 coronavirus cases and 1,326 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 5,853 cases and 60 deaths since Monday.  Governor Laura Kelly is urging all Kansans to wear face masks in public, avoid large crowds and practice social distancing.  Another update of Kansas COVID-19 cases will be released Friday. 


UPDATE: Kansas Governor Issues New Mask Mandate as COVID Cases Surge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a new mask mandate in hopes of lessening the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas after the state again  reported another record seven-day increase in new cases. State law still allows Kansas’ 105 counties to opt out of such an order from the Democratic governor, and most did when Kelly issued a similar order in July. But the state’s rolling seven-day average for new coronavirus cases was more than nine times higher Wednesday than it was than when her first order took effect. Kelly’s order takes effect Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, and only in counties that don’t yet have their own mask mandates. That’s still a majority of them.

(–Earlier version of this story–)

Kansas Governor Preparing to Announce New COVID-19 Measures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly is preparing to announce new measures designed to control the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas as the state experiences its biggest surge in new cases of the pandemic. Kelly scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to announce her new actions. The event comes as public health officials warn that the state’s residents need to be more vigilant about wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings. The Democratic governor has promised publicly that she won’t shut down businesses statewide again, as she did for five weeks in the spring. The Republican-controlled Legislature also forced her in June to accept local control over pandemic restrictions. 


UPDATE: Emergency Crews Battle Large Wildfires in Shawnee, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) - Emergency crews are working to put out several wildfires in northeast Kansas this (WED) afternoon.  KSNT TV reports that Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse has been urging people in city of Delia and surrounding area to evacuate immediately. (Read more.)

(Earlier reporting...)

Red Flag Warning in Effect for Eastern Kansas; Black Hawk Helicopters on Standby Due to Risk of Wildfires

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for all of eastern Kansas until 6 pm today (WED), as dry conditions and strong winds increase the danger of wildfires. Forecasters say a combination of high winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.  The Kansas Army National Guard has placed two Black Hawk helicopters on standby in Salina in response to the high potential for wildland fires.  National Guard helicopters helped support firefighting efforts in Harvey County over the weekend. Before the fire was contained, more than 6,000 acres were burned.  Governor Laura Kelly declared a state of disaster emergency Saturday due to the potential for wildfires.  "It is because wildfires can spring up so suddenly under these conditions that I have put this disaster declaration in place," Kelly said. "Placing resources such as these helicopters on standby help the state respond more quickly if a fire begins to spread."  The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka is currently activated in response to the coronavirus pandemic and will also be monitoring fire conditions across Kansas.


Kansas Health Officials Urge Communities to Do More Amid Surge  

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are urging communities to take stronger action as more hospital rooms are devoted to the care of coronavirus patients and hundreds of doctors, nurses and other workers are quarantined, leading some surgical procedures to be delayed. State health department head and Dr. Lee Norman said Tuesday that a system that he likened to air traffic control for coronavirus patients is being put in place so nurses from rural hospitals can make a single call to find a larger hospital that can take their sickest patients. In some cases, nursing staff and doctors have been spending up to eight hours looking for a large hospital with an opening. But Norman said these rural communities can’t leave it entirely to the state to help. Hospital emergency departments in at least two communities were holding coronavirus patients while waiting for space or staff to treat them elsewhere. The CEO of the Stormont Vail Health system in northeast Kansas called the local spread of the virus “uncontrolled.” Both Stormont Vail and the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center have held coronavirus patients in their emergency departments. Stormont Vail created new space for non-COVID-19 emergency patients in waiting rooms and hallways.


Kansas City-Area Officials Announce New COVID Restrictions

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Leaders of the Kansas City area have announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, days after St. Louis County announced similar new measures. Democratic Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said that, effective Friday, all indoor gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people. Restaurants and bars must close by 10 pm and limit occupancy to 50% capacity. Masks must be worn at all indoor spaces and at outdoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. Separately, neighboring Kansas City, Kansas, along with Jackson County in Missouri and Wyandotte County in Kansas announced similar measures.


Missouri Lawmakers Test Positive for Virus, Delay Work

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are postponing work on coronavirus aid funding after numerous legislators have been sickened by the virus. Republican Senate leaders on Monday said they're delaying work until after Thanksgiving. Leaders have not yet specified how many senators and staffers have tested positive for COVID-19. Republican Governor Mike Parson called lawmakers back to the Capitol to give him the power to spend $1.1 billion in additional federal coronavirus aid. He also asked lawmakers to give hospitals, schools and businesses immunity from being sued for misconduct related to how they've handled the pandemic. 


Mouth Spray Developed in Kansas Used to Fight Coronavirus?

WYANDOTTE COUNTY, Kan. (KCTV/KSMO) — A mouth spray used in dentistry for over a decade, now has a new use during the pandemic.  TV station KCTV reports that the spray, developed in Wyandotte County and now awaiting FDA approval, could change the way we fight the coronavirus.  “Oral health in America, May 2000 came out and it said we had a pandemic of oral disease in America,” says Janice King the President/CEO of NOWsystem Inc. in Kansas City.  That study is what motivated King to start the company, with the goal of creating a special spray that heals your mouth while killing bacteria.  “We went through this for over a year of sending up samples and getting the results and saying okay now we have to formulate this a little differently,” says King.  Finally, she came up with a plant based, alcohol free, formula for her product now called Tri-ology.  With several sprays, a couple of times a day, the product has gained the reputation of a strong bacteria killer.  Unlike regular mouthwash, the product also heals your mouth.  Doctor Jim Elias uses this product at Dental Arts, his dental office in Independence, Missouri.  He says they use it in several situations.  “Gum surgery patients, people that were meth addicts that came in with total decay, people that just had total bad gum infections, plaque, disease and bad breath,” says Elias.  Lately, his office is taking advantage of its new use, killing the coronavirus, by inhaling or ingesting the product.  Something King recently got proof that it can do, after getting it tested at a certified coronavirus lab in Virginia.  “The report came back and we only had it tested for two minutes but at two minutes 100 percent of the COVID-19 virus was inactivated.  KCTV asked local doctors what trust they put in a product like this.

“All of these products, they may look in the lab to inactivate or kill infectious virus, but we don’t really know the utility of protection and even treatment of SARS COVID-2 or COVID-19 with these products,” says Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an Infectious Disease Expert at University Kansas Health Systems.

The product has taken off both locally and globally and is something King says is changing how we fight the pandemic.  She says especially during times when masks aren’t an option, such as sports.  “This is something that if they can get their teams using before practices and before games, they can limit the amount of COVID that spreads out there,” says King.  She says Tri-ology shouldn’t permanently take the place of wearing masks, and adds that restaurants, businesses, and teachers who already use masks, can apply this for an added level of protection.  “This is a way for us to get our economy back to get businesses open again,” says King.  King is currently in the process of getting the product FDA approved, and by the end of the year, she expects it to be readily available on several store shelves.  For now, those interested in the product can find it on the Tri-ology website


U.S. Senate Confirms Third Federal Judge to District of Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Kansas Solicitor General Toby Crouse as a federal judge for the District of Kansas. It is the third federal district judgeship in Kansas nominated by President Donald Trump. Senators voted 50-43 on Tuesday to confirm Crouse. He was nominated in May to replace former U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia in Kansas City, Kansas. Murguia resigned after he was publicly reprimanded for sexually harassing female employees and having an extramarital affair with an offender. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says Crouse has been an outstanding solicitor general. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights opposes Crouse's nomination, calling him “a right-wing ideologue."


Kansas State Cancels Fall Commencement as Virus Surges  

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has canceled its fall commencement set for this weekend as the coronavirus outbreak worsens on campus and across the state. The Manhattan Mercury reports that university officials announced the cancellation Tuesday morning.  The graduation events in Manhattan and Salina had been scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The university instead will hold a virtual commencement in December and will release details on that event at a later date. KSU President Richard Myers said in a written statement that hundreds of new cases announced in both communities in recent days led university officials to consult with county health departments and the decision to cancel the ceremonies.


States Plead for More Federal Help as Virus Outbreak Worsens

UNDATED, (AP) - States in the U.S. are renewing their push for more federal money to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak and to help them distribute a vaccine when one becomes widely available.  They are facing renewed restrictions on businesses, the end of unemployment benefits for those tossed out of work by the pandemic and overloaded hospitals. Between now and June 2022, state and local governments could be facing a shortfall or $400 billion or more by some estimates. But help is not expected anytime soon from a divided and lame-duck Congress.


Gregg Marshall Resigns as Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Wichita State University

WICHITA, Kan. (KPR ) - Gregg Marshall is out at Wichita State.  WSU's Director of Athletics, Darron Boatright, has accepted the resignation of the head men’s basketball coach, effective immediately.  “This was a difficult decision, but one I feel was necessary for my family, the university and, most importantly, the student-athletes,” Marshall said. “I remain grateful for my years at Wichita State.  "I am incredibly proud of this men’s basketball program and all it has achieved over the past 14 years and am confident of its continued success.”  As part of Marshall’s resignation, WSU has agreed to a contract settlement for $7.75 million to be paid over a period of six years.  Assistant Coach Isaac Brown will serve as the team’s interim head coach.  Marshall has been under investigation following allegations of physical and verbal abuse.   In October, the university confirmed it had hired a St. Louis-based law firm to conduct an internal investigation into Marshall's behavior following multiple allegations by former players.  Wichita State saw a mass exodus from its basketball program last spring.  The 57-year-old Marshall is the winningest coach in Wichita State history, leading the Shockers to eight NCAA tournament appearances since taking over in 2007. He led the Shockers to the Final Four in 2013.  Marshall also guided the Shockers through their transition from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference in 2017.

AP version -

Wichita State Basketball Coach Gregg Marshall Resigns After Misconduct Probe

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Wichita State University men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall has resigned following an investigation into allegations of verbal and physical abuse. Marshall, who has long been known for his combustible sideline persona, came under scrutiny when former player Shaq Morris claimed he’d been struck twice by his coach during an October 2015 practice. Morris also claimed that he’d seen Marshall choke assistant coach Kyle Lindsted, who soon departed to become an assistant at Minnesota.


Police: 2 Shot in Northeast Kansas City; Woman Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a woman is dead after she and a man were shot in a northeastern Kansas City neighborhood. Police say officers were called to Independence and Indiana avenues around 11:15 pm Monday for reports of a shooting. Arriving officers found both victims down on a sidewalk with gunshot wounds. The woman died at the scene. The man was taken to an area hospital and is expected to recover. Police say in a news release that they have no information on who the shooter might be. Detectives canvassed the neighborhood looking for witnesses, and crime scene investigators collected evidence at the scene.


3 Ex-Detectives Sue Kansas City Police for Discrimination

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Three Black female former detectives have accused the Kansas City Police Department of discriminating against them because of their race and gender during an internal probe of a unit that investigated sex crimes against children. In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, the women allege they became scapegoats during an internal affairs investigation of the Crimes Against Children Unit, which was accused of not properly investigating rape and child molestation cases. Gleanice Brown, Latondra Moore and Tamara Solomon argue the findings and disciplinary recommendations from the investigation were racially and sexually motivated. The police department says it doesn't discuss pending litigation.


2 Escape Injury in Small Plane Crash in Southwest Kansas

JOHNSON CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two people from Oklahoma escaped serious injuries when a small plane crashed in southwest Kansas. The crash occurred Tuesday afternoon about 7 miles east of the Stanton County Airport near Johnson City. The patrol said the Cessna 120 fixed-wing, single-engine airplane crashed when the left wing hit the dirt while the pilot was attempting a "fly-by" of people on the ground. The pilot, 36-year-old Blake Gerard, and a passenger, 13-year-old Matthew Gerard, both of Collinsville, Oklahoma, were taken to Stanton County Hospital. The patrol said neither suffered serious injuries.


No Injuries When Wind Gust Blows Small Plane Off Runway

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say no one was injured Monday when strong wind gusts blew a small plane off the runway at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City. Airport officials say a Piper Meridian single-engine aircraft had landed on a runway around 10:30 a.m. Monday when the wind pushed it off the east side of the runway into the grass. Officials say two people aboard the plane were uninjured. The runway was briefly shut down while crews removed the plane. The airport's other runway remained open.


Kansas Woman Guilty of Transporting Minor for Prostitution

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Kansas say a Wichita woman has pleaded guilty to taking a minor across state lines to engage in prostitution. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says 22-year-old Taylor Kinsey pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to one count of interstate transportation for prostitution. Prosecutors say Kinsey admitted that she recruited a 17-year-old victim to engage in prostitution, then took the minor from Wichita to Oklahoma City to engage in sex acts for money. Kinsey has agreed to a term of 7.5 years in federal prison when she's sentenced on Feb. 5.


Texas-Kansas Among 6 Major College Games Postponed by Virus

UNDATED (AP) — No. 22 Texas at Kansas was among six games postponed by COVID-19 problems as the virus took another chunk out of this weekend's major college football schedule. Overall, 14 out of 62 games involving Bowl Subdivision teams scheduled for this week have been called off. Texas-Kansas was just the second Big 12 conference game to be postponed this season and was rescheduled for Dec. 12. The American Athletic Conference had to call off Navy at South Florida and Houston at SMU. The conference will work to reschedule those games. The Mountain West's Thursday night game between Utah State and Wyoming was canceled and No. 24 Louisiana-Lafayette said it would not play its nonconference game against Central Arkansas on Saturday.


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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