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Headlines for Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Kansas Governor Again Urges Statewide Mask Mandate

MISSION, Kan. — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is again calling for a statewide mask mandate as coronavirus infections climb in rural parts of the state that don’t require face covering. Kelly said Wednesday that two-thirds of the state’s confirmed cases now are outside the Wichita and Kansas City region. Over the summer, the governor issued an order requiring Kansas residents to wear masks, but more than 90 counties chose to opt out. Kelly says she plans to discuss with legislative leaders on working toward a bipartisan requirement with more teeth. The state health department says Kansas had 1,488 new confirmed coronavirus cases since Monday, an increase of 2% that brought the total number of infections for the pandemic to 74,456. Kansas has had 952 deaths from COVID-19.


Kansas Closing in on 75,000 COVID-19 Cases, with 952 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - State health officials say Kansas has recorded nearly 75,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The Department of Health and Environment reported today (WED) that the state had 74,456 cases, including 952 deaths. That's an increase of 80 deaths from Monday's report. The KDHE COVID-19 online statistics summary indicates that this increase in deaths can be attributed at least in part to an ongoing reconciliation of death certificates, and that 55 of the deaths are attributed to this review. Another update will be released Friday.


Kansas Vaccination Plan Prioritizes Health Care Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A draft plan shows that health care workers and long-term care residents will be among those who will get the coronavirus vaccine first in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the state's 45-page plan was filed in the past week with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other groups that will be prioritized for the initial rounds of vaccinations include people with underlying medical conditions, people 65 and older and essential workers. State officials then will use advisory committees to help determine who should receive the vaccine next. The plan indicates that the state is taking input from groups representing individuals with disabilities, people of color, children and other demographics.


Man Charged with Threatening Wichita Mayor over Mask Mandate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 59-year-old man who prosecutors say threatened Wichita's mayor because he was upset about a mask mandate has been charged. Meredith Dowty, of Wichita, was charged Tuesday with three counts of criminal threat. The retired firefighter is accused of threatening to kidnap and kill Mayor Brandon Whipple over his role in requiring masks in Wichita in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Police say the suspect sent text messages to a city official threatening Whipple's life. The charges come a day after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly urged residents to tone down the “anti-science, anti-mask” rhetoric sparked by the pandemic.


10 Residents Dead Amid Virus Outbreak at Northwest Kansas Nursing Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 residents in a northwestern Kansas nursing home.  The facility in Norton County already had, proportionally, the nation’s largest increase in cases over two weeks. The health department in Norton County reported Monday night that all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the virus. The nursing home's outbreak came after more than 100 cases were identified at the state prison in Norton. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Norton County had the largest number of new cases per 100,000 residents of any county in the U.S. for the two weeks ending Sunday.


Hospitalizations Still Rising in Missouri, Prompting Worries

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A leading coronavirus expert in St. Louis is warning that hospital workers are “over-worked and demoralized” after months of battling the coronavirus, and the worst may be yet to come. Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force says hospitalizations are getting higher and intensive care unit beds are filling up at a time when the flu season is about to create even more strain on the health care system. The St. Louis region is actually in better shape than the rest of the state. Health department data shows hospitalizations are at or near record levels in virtually every region except St. Louis.


Voting in Western Kansas County Delayed by Ballot Misprint

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A western Kansas county was forced to suspend in-person advanced voting for three days after a ballot misprint incorrectly identified a Kansas Senate race as a U.S. Senate contest. Ellis County planned to resume in-person voting Thursday with extended hours after corrected ballots arrived Wednesday. The incorrect ballots labeled the Kansas 40th District Senate race as a U.S. Senate race.  The names of the candidates were correct. About 4,000 of the incorrect ballots were also sent to mail-in voters. Election officials say the incorrect ballots will be counted. The actual U.S. Senate race between Democrat Barbara Bollier and Republican Roger Marshall was correctly identified on the ballot.


Ex-Blue Bell Creameries CEO Charged in Deadly Listeria Case

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities say the former president of Blue Bell Creameries has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly trying to cover up a 2015 listeria outbreak linked to the company’s ice cream that killed three people in Kansas and sickened several others. Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, returned a seven-count indictment charging Kruse with six counts of wire fraud and one count to commit wire fraud. This comes a little more than three months after a judge threw out previous charges against Kruse because prosecutors didn't present them to a grand jury. Kruse's lawyer says the charges are unfounded and that he'll argue they were brought after the statute of limitations had expired.


2 Facing Misdemeanors After Vehicles Drove into Protesters

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two people are facing misdemeanor charges after vehicles drove into crowds at two protests in Lawrence earlier this year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the drivers have been issued summons to appear in court for incidents on May 31 and June 29. No one was seriously injured in either encounter, which occurred on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence during protests against police brutality. The driver involved in the May 31 incident is facing misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and battery. The driver involved on June 29 has been issued a summons for misdemeanor reckless driving. 


Topeka Police Respond to Fight, Find Man Fatally Stabbed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka are investigating the city's latest homicide after finding a man fatally stabbed at a home. Police say officers were called to the home around 9:15 pm Tuesday for reports of a fight. Arriving officers found a man with stab wounds at the home. The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries. Police have not yet released the victim's name, and no arrests have been reported in the case. Police are asking anyone with information on the stabbing to contact detectives or Shawnee County Crime Stoppers.


Report: Topeka Officer Should Take De-Escalation Refresher Course

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An independent police auditor says a Topeka police officer who forcefully handcuffed a 14-year-old youth with autism did not violate any police department policies. But the auditor, Edward Collazo, is recommending the officer take a refresher course in de-escalation training. He said the officer might have followed policy but didn't necessarily show good judgment during the encounter with the youth on September 19. The youth's mother said his wrist was fractured when the officer handcuffed him. The encounter occurred after the teenager ran when the officer was trying to get him to put his dog on a leash.


Body Found in Shawnee County Identified as Man Missing for 2 Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a body found this spring in Shawnee County was that of a man who was reported missing in 2018.  Police confirmed the body was Gregory McGovern. He was last seen in Topeka in June 2018. The bones were found along the Kansas River in April, along with a backpack. Police Chief Bill Cochran said forensic scientists this month match DNA from McGovern's family to identify the body. Cochran said investigators found nothing suspicious with the bones.


Prosecutor: Man Admits to Disposing of Bodies of Brothers

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) — A prosecutor says a Missouri man accused of killing two Wisconsin brothers told authorities he disposed of the bodies but denied killing the men. Garland Nelson’s attorneys argued that a murder suspect cannot also be charged with abandoning the victim's corpse without violating his right to remain silent against self-incrimination. But prosecutors said Nelson could have anonymously reported where the bodies were located. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Circuit Court Judge Michael Wagner agreed Tuesday and denied a defense request to dismiss two counts of abandoning a corpse. Garland is also charged with murder in the 2019 killings of Justin and Nicholas Diemel.


Kansas City Police ID Man Found Fatally Shot in Parking Lot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City have identified a man who was found fatally shot in a fast-food restaurant parking lot on the south side of the city. Police said in a news release that officers called to the McDonald's parking lot Monday found 35-year-old Rickey Arrington inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds. Arrington was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police had not announced an arrest by Wednesday morning, but say detectives have identified a person of interest in this case.


Multi-Vehicle Crash Shuts Down Portions of I-435 

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) - A three-vehicle crash on Interstate 435 in suburban Kansas City, Kansas, seriously injured one person and shut down parts of the area's thoroughfare. Officials say the crash happened around 4 am Tuesday, leading authorities to shut down the southbound lanes of I-435 in Lenexa. The Kansas Highway Patrol initially reported that a person died in the crash, but later said the person was critically injured. The patrol says the crash involved two semi-trucks and a passenger vehicle. No other details of the crash - including the name of the person injured - were immediately available. Officials say southbound I-435 traffic was detoured at 87th Street.


Kansas City Cop Pleads Not Guilty to Assaulting Black Teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City, Missouri, police sergeant accused of kneeling on a Black 15-year-old who complained he couldn't breathe has pleaded not guilty to a felony assault charge. Sgt. Matthew Neal entered the plea during a brief arraignment hearing Tuesday. Prosecutors allege that the teen and a man were stopped last November by an officer who thought a robbery might occur. They say the boy was handcuffed and on the ground when Neal arrived and put his knee on the teen's head during the arrest, breaking some of his teeth and causing bruising. A grand jury indicted Neal in August. 


Topeka School Considers Racist Past of Its Namesake

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of a high school in Topeka are considering how the community should react to a report that the man the school is named for was a chief officer of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century. The Seaman High School newspaper reported last week that Fred Seaman, a prominent Kansas education figure, was an exalted cyclops in the KKK. Tristan Fangman and Madeline Gearhart, co-editors of The Clipper, said someone provided a newspaper clipping to their history teacher about Seaman. That prompted them to do more research and find other articles detailing his KKK activities.


Food Concessions Company to Lay Off 550 in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The food concessions provider for Kauffman Stadium and the Kansas City Convention Center has announced it will lay off more than 550 workers at both venues. The Kansas City Star reports that food services contractor Aramark recently notified state regulators of the layoffs, most of which will take place at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. The Royals did play in the stadium this year, but did not allow fans because of the corornavirus pandemic. The company will lay off 512 hourly employees and eight salaries workers at the stadium, while another 48 hourly workers will have their hours cut. At the convention center, it will lay off 57 employees and cut the hours of 10 others.


Ex-Student Teacher Gets Prison for Sending Nude Photos to Students

LAMAR, Mo. (AP) — A 39-year-old former student teacher in southwestern Missouri has been sentenced to four years in prison for sending nude photographs of herself to three 13-year-old male students back in 2017. The Joplin Globe reports that former at Lamar Middle School teacher Emily Edson was sentenced last week to four years for each of three counts of sexual misconduct with a child and one count of promoting child pornography. The sentences are to be served at the same time. Edson had pleaded guilty to the charges; in exchange for her plea, more serious charges of sexual enticement and child pornography counts were dropped.


First Kansas City-Area Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — The first medical marijuana dispensary in the Kansas City area was a popular spot when it opened. Dozens of people lined up outside Fresh Green in Lee's Summit Monday to receive marijuana for medical needs. The state's first two dispensaries opened Saturday in the St. Louis area. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2018. Supplies and the variety of marijuana are limited because only a few cultivators in the state have plants mature enough to harvest. Anyone wanting to buy the drug must have a state-issued medical marijuana card. Most of the 192 approved dispensaries are expected to be open by the end of the year.


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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