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Headlines for Friday, November 27, 2020



Kansas COVID-19 Cases Exceed 150,000; Virus-Related Death Toll Continues to Climb 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has now recorded more than 153,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,500 virus-related deaths.  The state health department reported Friday that Kansas had identified 153,021 coronavirus cases and 1,529 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Those numbers indicate an additional 5,224 cases and 26 deaths since Wednesday. Another update of Kansas COVID-19 case statistics is expected on Monday. 


Kansas City Area Tops 1,000 Deaths from COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City area has reached an unwanted milestone: Coronavirus deaths in the region have now topped 1,000. The Kansas City Star reports that nine new deaths cited Thursday brought the total since the onset of the pandemic to 1,003. The number includes Kansas City, Missouri, as well as its suburbs in Missouri and Kansas. Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas says people have died ``because of bureaucratic red tape, bravado, ill preparation, and our own communal self-interest favoring normalcy over safety of others.'' 


More Counties Require Masks as New Mask Mandate Takes Effect

LAWRENCE, Kan (AP) — The number of Kansas counties that require face coverings has risen sharply as fewer opted out of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s latest mask mandate. Sixty-two Kansas counties now have mask orders in place, with many coming as  Kelly’s new statewide mask order went into effect Wednesday, according to a list compiled by the Kansas Association of Counties. The Kansas City Star reports that the remaining 43 of the counties have opted out of the mandate, but most are encouraging or recommending people wear masks. It’s a stark contrast to the response Kelly received to her first mask order in July, when the majority of counties opted out.


Kansas Launches Pro-Mask Campaign but Faces Skepticism

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has launched a media campaign aimed at getting more of its residents to wear masks so that the coronavirus doesn’t keep spreading rapidly. Some officials are skeptical that it will move the needle much.  A mask mandate from Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is went into effect Wednesday but Kansas law allows the state’s 105 counties to opt out. Most counties did so the first time Kelly tried to require masks in July but with the average new case numbers more than nine times higher now than then, there appears to be less pushback. The state has set aside $1.5 million for television, radio, print and social media ads promoting masks but some officials worry that politics are driving resistance to masks and others suggest that people already are bombarded with pro-mask messages. Kansans can access campaign resources and other materials at StopTheSpreadKansas.org. The campaign hopes to ignite a sense of unity, community and responsibility by reminding Kansans about the four main tools they can use to stop the spread of the virus: wearing a mask, washing their hands, keeping a safe distance from others and avoiding large gatherings.


Kansas City Area WalMarts to Offer COVID Self-Testing Kits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR/KNS) - Three Kansas City area WalMart stores are offering self-administered COVID-19 testing kits for adults who meet CDC, state and local guidelines on who should be tested. Curbside delivery of the kits will be made available at the Walmart store on Kansas Avenue in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Drive-through pick-up of the kits will be available at the Supercenter on Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas, and the Neighborhood Market on North Antioch Road in Kansas City, Missouri.  Patients must first request an appointment through Quest Diagnostics' online portal at myquestcovidtest.com. Quest will screen and schedule appointments for those who qualify. Results will be made available by Quest, typically 48 to 72 hours after it has received patients’ samples.


Parades, Other Regional Holiday Traditions Upended Due to Pandemic

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Holiday traditions have been upended across Kansas due to the coronavirus, forcing Santa to stay firmly on the ground in one city and transforming parades elsewhere. In Lawrence, hundreds usually turn out on the Friday after Thanksgiving to watch firefighters use a ladder truck to rescue Santa from the top of Weaver’s Department Store. But that’s not happening this year as the pandemic strains hospitals. Instead, Santa will appear on the first three Saturdays of December atop a truck decked out in garlands, poinsettias and pine cones. Holiday parades in Dodge City and Topeka have been thrown into reverse, with spectators encouraged to drive past stationary, socially spaced floats.

Click here to watch the Downtown Lawrence Holiday Lighting Virtual Event scheduled for Friday, November 27 at 6 pm


Missouri Cities Crack Down on Restaurant Virus Rule Violators

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's two largest metropolitan areas are cracking down on restaurants that violate rules designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Kansas City's liquor control authorities found two dozen bars and restaurants in violation of the city's new COVID-19 restrictions after a recent sweep of 185 establishments. Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health sent certified letters to three dozen bars and businesses ordering them to cease indoor service or face lawsuits or criminal charges. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 11 of those establishments had already received a second notice from the county. 


Hospital Bed, ICU Capacity Becoming More Limited in Missouri

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Hospital beds across Missouri are nearly four-fifths full, and capacity is even more limited in intensive care units as the coronavirus pandemic continues its autumn surge. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Monday cited 2,805 hospitalizations statewide -- double the number from a month ago. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard notes that just 21% of capacity remains at hospitals, and ICU capacity is down to 17%. Bed capacity is at 13% in northwest Missouri, 17% in the St. Louis region and 19% in Kansas City. ICU capacity is at 13% in the southwestern part of the state and in St. Louis.


Inmate Deaths Connected to COVID-19 Rise Sharply in Missouri

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri prisons have seen a surge of inmate deaths connected to the coronavirus this month, prompting civil rights leaders to urge additional steps to protect prisoners and staff. Early in the pandemic, confirmed cases were common but mostly mild among Missouri prisoners. Through August, the state reported just one inmate death. But 26 additional inmates infected with COVID-19 have died since September, most of them this month. A state spokeswoman says it isn’t certain that COVID-19 was the primary cause of death in most cases. All but two had serious underlying conditions such as late-stage renal failure, heart disease or cancer.


Extended Unemployment Benefits Ending Next Month in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal program that had extended unemployment benefits for an extra 13 weeks in Kansas will stop next month just as new COVID-19 restrictions could lead to more furloughs and layoffs. The U.S. Department of Labor informed the state labor agency that the Kansas unemployment levels had fallen below the eligibility threshold for the Extended Benefits program. The last payments for Kansans on the program will be the week ending December 12. The Kansas Department of Labor will notify affected individuals. Kansas previously qualified for the Extended Benefits program in June, which offered an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for workers who exhaust regular unemployment benefits during periods of high unemployment.


Wichita, Lawrence Plan to Convert Hotels for Housing Homeless

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A proposal to transform a hotel near downtown Wichita into housing for the homeless goes before the city council next week. The owner of the 316 Hotel has agreed to sell the building for $2.6 million. The Wichita Eagle reports that renovations for the studio apartments are estimated to cost another $1.6 million. A combination of public and private funding would pay for the project. The City of Lawrence moved this week to provide shelter services at a motel northwest of the city's downtown area. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the Kansas Division of Emergency Management will provide funding to house people who are homeless at the Baymont Inn on Iowa Street. The facility will also be available to house people who have been exposed to the coronavirus but can't safely isolate at home and to front-line workers in high-risk jobs who want to avoid potentially exposing family members to the virus. The free shelter service will also offer three meals per day. It's expected to open next week. 


VA Outpatient Clinic in Liberal Closing Next Year

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center said it will close its outpatient clinic in Liberal next year. The Dodge City Globe reports that the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic opened in 2018 in Liberal. It will cease operations after January 14. Candace Ifabiyi, Medical Center director for Dole VA, says they are disappointed to have to make this decision. She says veterans in southwest Kansas have other options for their health care needs, including a well-staffed VA clinic in Dodge City that is within driving distances. It also has virtual programs that let veterans connect by video from their homes to VA health care providers.


Judge Refuse Missouri Tenants Request to Halt Evictions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal judge rejected a request to halt evictions after a tenants' rights group in Missouri claimed Jackson County was violating a federal moratorium that aims to stop the spread of COVID-19 by preventing homelessness. The ruling comes in a federal lawsuit filed by KC Tenants in Missouri. The lawsuit against Jackson County Circuit Judge David Byrn argues that the court is violating a federal eviction moratorium by allowing eviction cases to go forward. 


Iowa Tribe Creates National Park on Nebraska-Kansas Border

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska is creating the nation’s largest tribal national park on a forested bluff overlooking the Missouri River and a historic site of its people. The tribe says the 444-acre park will allow it to tell the story of the Ioway people and provide a rustic getaway where people can hike, camp and bird-watch. The  Omaha World-Herald reports that the Ioway Tribal National Park will overlook a historic trading village once used by the Ioway people to barter for buffalo hides and pipestones with other tribes. That site includes three burial mounds that date back 3,000 years.


2 Arrested After Domestic Dispute Turns Violent in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested a Wichita couple after a domestic disturbance turned violent. Police said in a news release that officers responding to a shooting at about 3:15 p.m. Thursday found a 46-year-old man with a gunshot wound. He was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released. Their investigation found that the man was involved in a disturbance with a 48-year old woman during which the woman retrieved a gun and shot him in the arm. She was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was arrested on suspicion of aggravated domestic battery and a municipal misdemeanor warrant.


Reward Offered in Missing Children Case; Mother Charged

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information that would help find two young children from Kansas City, Missouri, who have been missing since November 9. Meanwhile, their mother has been charged with kidnapping. WDAF-TV reports that 7-year-old Avontay Reed and 4-year-old Kelvontae Cooper had been placed with an aunt due to their mother's mental health problems and drug abuse. Police say the mother, Mattina Marshall, took the children from their aunt's home on November 9. Marshall was located Tuesday at a motel but the children were not with her. She told authorities they were with their father.


Kansas Fire Claims Life of 62-Year-Old Man, Authorities Say

WETMORE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been killed in a fire in northeast Kansas. According to WIBW-TV,  a neighbor reported the fire around 5:30 a.m. Thursday in the Nemaha County town of Wetmore. The State Fire Marshal’s Office said the victim was a 62-year-old man who lived alone in the home. The office said the cause of the fire is not yet determined but was most likely accidental.


New Quarter Pays Homage to Kansas Landmark

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Flint Hills of Kansas are all abuzz over a new coin that pays homage to the state's Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The U.S. Mint this month released the 55th installment in its America the Beautiful Quarters Program. The flip side offers a skyward view of the prairie, native Big Bluestem and Indian grasses as well as a Regal Fritillary butterfly. Heather Brown, chief of interpretation and visitors services for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, says the design ``helps spotlight some of the prairie's endangered ecosystem.'' The tallgrass prairie quarters were released into circulation on Nov. 16. Approximately 300 million were minted. 


No. 6 Kansas, Behind Braun's 30 Points, Tops Saint Joseph's

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Christian Braun scored 30 points and the no. 6-ranked Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Saint Joseph’s Hawks by a score of 94-72 in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off in Florida. Braun made 10 of 13 shots, hit five 3-pointers and added nine rebounds. Ochai Agbaji, whose foul trouble proved costly in a loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, added 18 points. Jalen Wilson had 14 for the Jayhawks, who improved to 1-1. Jack Forrest had 18 points for Saint Joseph’s, now 0-2 on the year. Ryan Daly and Dahmir Bishop added 14 for the Hawks.


No. 1 Gonzaga Defeats No. 6 Kansas, 102-90

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Drew Timme scored 25 points, Jalen Suggs had 24 and Corey Kispert added 23 as No. 1 Gonzaga pulled away from No. 6 Kansas for a 102-90 victory. The Bulldogs built a double-digit lead in the first half at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, then saw the Jayhawk men's team tie it twice in the second half before putting them away. Gonzaga went on a 22-7 run to go up 96-78. Suggs scored 17 of his 24 in the second half. Marcus Garrett led Kansas with 22 points and Ochai Agbaji added 17 points. The way these teams played each other, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gonzaga and Kansas meet again late in the NCAA Tournament, maybe the Final Four.


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.