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Headlines for Friday, November 6, 2020


More Than 5,000 New Kansas COVID-19 Infections Reported as Cases Top 97,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state has logged more than 97,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  That figure includes 1,166 deaths.  KDHE released the latest numbers today (FRI), reporting 97,633 coronavirus cases.  This marks an increase of 5,418 cases and 79 deaths in Kansas since Wednesday.  The next online update of COVID-19 cases will be released Monday.


Kansas Adds Record-Setting 5,418 New COVID-19 Cases

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has added a record-setting 5,418 new coronavirus cases as hospitals strained under the pressure. The increases in confirmed and probable cases brought the state’s total to 97,633, a 5.9% increase from Wednesday. With the influx, the seven-day daily rolling average rose to 1,779 cases. Data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows the state also added 79 COVID-19 fatalities Friday to bring the total to 1,166. State health department head and Dr. Lee Norman said many local officials “haven't done anything” to check the virus surge. Meanwhile, staffing is a growing problem at hospitals, with 38% anticipating shortages this week in the Kansas City area.

Several Dozen Kansas Hospitals Under Stress as Coronavirus Cases Rise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several dozen hospitals that serve Kansas patients are reporting that they expect to deal with staffing shortages over the next week as the state continues to report an average of well over 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day. The Wichita area's two major health systems said Wednesday that almost 150 coronavirus patients were hospitalized, their highest numbers since the pandemic began. The state Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday added 2,988 confirmed and probable cases to the state's count since Monday to bring the pandemic total to 92,215. Forty-three hospitals told the Kansas Hospital Association that they expect to deal with staffing shortages within the next week.

Counties Where Virus Is Now Rampant Voted Overwhelmingly for Trump

UNDATED (AP) - U.S. voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support. An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas. Health officials across the nation are facing record numbers of new coronavirus cases. They are taking note of the chasm in public sentiment and thinking about how to reframe their messages.


'Hit' Tweet Against Kansas Governor Has Democrats Seeking Newly-Elected State Rep's Ouster

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic candidate who admitted to circulating revenge porn and who was charged at the age of 14 with threatening to shoot a high school student has won a seat in the Kansas House. Democratic leaders said Thursday that they will try to oust 20-year-old Aaron Coleman after a tweet from Coleman against Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Coleman was the only candidate on the ballot in his Kansas City, Kansas, district in Tuesday’s election, and he had nearly 1,500 more votes than two write-in candidates combined. A Democratic leader said a now-deleted Coleman tweet Wednesday was “threatening the governor,” but Coleman said he was talking about opposing her politically.


Kansas Candidate Behind Revenge Porn Wins Kansas House Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic candidate who admitted to circulating revenge porn and who was charged at the age of 14 with threatening to shoot a high school student has won a state House seat in Kansas. Aaron Coleman was the only candidate on the ballot in his district in Kansas City, Kansas, in Tuesday’s election, but he faced the veteran state lawmaker whom he defeated in the Democratic primary and a Republican candidate who ran as write-ins. Unofficial results on Thursday show 3,496 votes for Coleman and 2,013 total write-in votes. Coleman was charged in May 2015 with making a criminal threat but he pleaded guilty to a lesser harassment charge.


Wichita Mayor Urges Caution; Small Hospitals Under Strain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of Kansas’s largest city is warning the public to take the coronavirus “seriously” as case numbers soar and rural hospitals struggle to find larger facilities with room for their patients. Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple blamed a rise in cases on a “perfect storm” of people becoming fatigued over prevention measures, longing to see their families, and moving events indoors as the weather grows colder. In Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located, the number of confirmed and probable cases increased by 54% over the past month, jumping from 9,509 on Oct. 5 to 14,694 on Wednesday.


Kansas Supreme Court Expands Parental Rights of Same-Sex Couples

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that parenting intentions at the moment of a child’s birth are critical to establishing parental rights. The rulings Friday come in separate cases in which birth mothers who conceived through artificial insemination were fighting petitions by their former same-sex partners to establish parentage. In both cases, the women had not married and did not have co-parenting agreements. The court found that a woman seeking to establish parentage only needed to show that she acknowledged maternity at the time of birth and show evidence the birth mother consented at that time to share the care and custody of the child.


Kansas: Man Who Performed Illegal Autopsies Duped 82 Consumers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says a man accused of performing illegal autopsies duped at least 82 consumers. Schmidt’s office said Thursday in a news release that the state now has control of more than 1,600 biological samples collected by  Shawn Parcells of Leawood, Kansas. It is working to identify family members with legal claims. Parcells is a self-taught pathology assistant with no formal education. He was also accused last year of performing illegal autopsies or billing for autopsies that were never performed. He faces three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration.


1 Found Dead, Another Person Arrested in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are investigating that city's latest homicide. Police say officers were called around 12:30 am Thursday to a home near Terrace Street and Leavenworth Road for a report of a disturbance. Arriving officers found a man inside dead from a gunshot wound. Police have not released the man's name or given details about what may have led up to the shooting. Police say a suspect in the shooting was also inside the home and was arrested. The death marked the city's 50th homicide this year.


Judge Throws out Murder Conviction of Kansas Man Who Says He Was Framed

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A judge has thrown out the murder conviction of a Kansas man who spent more than 12 years in prison for a shooting he says that was actually a murder-suicide for which he was framed. Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree told the court he would not seek to retry Olin “Pete” Coones after the judge found he received an unfair trial in the 2008 shooting deaths of Kathleen and Carl Schroll in Kansas City, Kansas. Dupree credited his office’s conviction integrity unit for uncovering exculpatory evidence that prosecutors had not disclosed to Coones or his defense attorney.


Mississippi Hunters Admit to Illegally Killing Turkeys in Kansas

UNDATED - Four Mississippi men pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges of illegally killing turkeys while hunting in Kansas and bringing them back to Mississippi.  According to the Daily Leader, 51-year-old Kenneth R. Britt, Jr., of Wesson, 26-year-old Tony Grant Smith, of Wesson, 28-year-old Barney Leon Bairfield, III, of Brookhaven and 28-year-old Dustin Corey Treadway, of Brookhaven.  All four pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David Bramlette III to federal charges of killing in excess of the legal limit of Kansas wild turkeys while unlicensed and transporting the wild turkeys across state lines to Mississippi.  Prosecutors say the crimes occurred in 2017 and 2018.  The defendants traveled to Kansas and Nebraska and hunted wild turkeys taking over 25 wild turkeys without the required hunting licenses and in excess of the limit.  They returned to Mississippi with trophy spurs and beards of the illegally-killed turkeys. Under the federal Lacey Act, it is unlawful for any person to transport across state lines any wildlife taken in violation of state law.  Sentencing is scheduled for February 9, 2021.  


Wichita Police Say 80-Year-Old Man Killed in Hit-and-Run

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say an 80-year-old man died after being hit by a vehicle that fled the scene. Police say James Kaminsky died Tuesday evening. They say Kaminsky was crossing a road to his house when he was hit. He died later at a hospital. The driver of a white pickup truck fled. Police say a person of interest has been identified. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the death.


Study: Kansas Economic Recovery Recently Worst in U.S.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kansas has recently ranked worst in the nation in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released Thursday by the Washington, D.C.-based finance website WalletHub.  The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the study looked at three metrics: the change in the number of initial unemployment insurance claims in the most recent week available compared to approximately the same week in 2019; change in the number of initial unemployment claims in the most recent week available compared to the week of January 1, 2020; and the change in the number of initial unemployment claims between mid-March and late October of 2020 compared to the same period last year.  Based on these three criteria, WalletHub ranked Kansas number 51 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. for having “recovered most since last week” — though the state only ranked 39th in terms of having “recovered most since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.”  

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Kansas had 15,972 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ending October 24, 2020, down from 17,547 the previous week — but more than 10 times the 1,316 initial claims filed in the week ending October 26, 2019.  “The Kansas unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September,” Kansas Department of Labor Acting Secretary Ryan Wright said in a news release last month. “However, it is important to note that similar to national trends, the number of individuals participating in the labor force has also declined.”  The release accompanied the KDOL’s Labor Market Report for September. The report for October will not be released until November 20.  

WalletHub’s unfavorable ranking of the state's economic recovery comes even as the same report includes a finding that unemployment claims are recovering quickest in “red states.” The finance website designated states as red or blue based on how they voted in the 2016 election — though Kansas just reaffirmed its status as a red state this week with its majority votes for electing Roger Marshall to the U.S. Senate and reelecting President Trump.


Kansas Athletics Expecting $10 Million Budget Shortfall; No Plans to Ask University for Help

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Athletics Inc. could have financial losses of about $10.4 million for the current fiscal year.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the department will use a portion of a $20 million line of credit to cover the unexpected losses that have resulted from disruptions related to the pandemic.  “We know we will be able to pay our bills this year,” Pat Kaufman, chief financial officer of Kansas Athletics, said.  It also was clear that the athletic department wouldn’t be asking for any new money from the general university to help cover athletic department expenses, Athletic Director Jeff Long said.  “We don’t count on that, and we know that is not an avenue for us,” Long said of additional university funding. “We are very comfortable with that, and it is why we have secured that line of credit.”  The athletic department receives about $1.2 million in direct institutional support from the university, and KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said there were no plans to provide additional such support to the athletic department, which operates as its own separate, KU-owned corporation.  “As much as I love you guys, I also appreciate that you aren’t expecting us to bail you out,” Girod said.

Significant reductions in both the number of football games and the size of crowds allowed at games have led to revenue reductions in the Kansas Athletics budget.  Anticipated reduction in games and crowd size for basketball also have been factored into the projections.  Overall ticket revenue is expected to fall from a budgeted figure of $17.9 million to $3 million.  Another major reduction is expected to come from the amount of money the athletic department will receive from the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA. Much of that money is determined by how many league games can be shown on television during the course of a season.  If KU begins to see losses that threaten to deplete the entire $20 million line of credit, Long said the department would start to look at staff layoffs, among other cuts. The department already has made several temporary salary cuts and furloughs.


Kansas City Club with Violent Record Loses Liquor License

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City nightclub with a history of violence has lost its liquor license. The Kansas City Liquor Control Board voted Wednesday to revoke the liquor license for 9ine Ultra Lounge, where two people died and 15 were injured in a shooting in January. The lounge closed for several months after that shooting but the violence continued when it reopened. On August 30, four people were shot after an argument that started inside the club and involved several shooters.  Jim Ready, manager of the city’s regulated industries, said the club never provided proper security. The owner of the club did not attend Wednesday's hearing.


Oklahoma Man Sentenced to Prison After Wichita Crime Spree

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison after a series of crimes in Wichita. The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Friday that 28-year-old Taylor Kremer of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, set his car on fire in an alley following a hit-and-run crash in 2018. Kremer then pulled a bicycle from the burning vehicle and fired shots at occupants of a nearby home who followed him. He then stole a car after ordering people of a home inside at knifepoint. Kremer pleaded guilty in September to 15 counts including kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.


Missouri Voters Dump Never-Used Redistricting Reforms

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters have rolled back a first-of-its kind initiative to create “partisan fairness" in voting districts. A ballot measure approved just two years ago directed a new nonpartisan demographer to draw Missouri House and Senate districts according to a formula designed to produce fair and competitive elections. But on Tuesday, voters approved a new measure repealing the nonpartisan demographer and dropping “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” to the bottom of the priority list. Supporters for the original amendment say some voters were “duped” by Republican lawmakers, who put the measure on this year's ballot.


Voters in Jackson County Missouri Vote to Keep Andrew Jackson Statues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County voters have rejected a proposal to remove statues of President Andrew Jackson that stand in front of the county's two courthouses. Activists had pushed to have the statues removed because Jackson was a slave owner who also signed a law in 1830 that forced Native American tribes from their land, causing thousands to die. Jackson County, Missouri, was named after Jackson in 1826. The push to remove the statues from in front of courthouses in Independence and Kansas City coincided with similar efforts around the county this year after racial injustice demonstrations. The proposal was rejected with about 59% opposed and 41% in favor.


Missouri Voter Turnout Tops 3 Million, with 70% Turnout

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than 3 million Missourians cast ballots in Tuesday's presidential election. The turnout exceeded the previous high mark of 2.9 million voters in the 2008 presidential election. But the 70% turnout rate fell a little short of the 75% threshold that had been forecast by local election officials. The state's turnout percentage peaked at 78% in the 1992 elections, when there were at least a million fewer registered voters than there are today.


Wichita Police: Suicides Increase More than 70%

WICHITA (AP) — Wichita police say suicides in the city are up 70% this year, and stress from the coronavirus outbreak is likely a major factor. Police said Monday the city had 76 suicides as of last Friday, an increase from 44 at the same time last year and 59 in all of 2019. There have been 367 suicide attempts so far this year. Detective James Hook, the department’s mental health liaison, speculated that stresses related to the coronavirus - such as job loss, social events being canceled and stay-at-home orders - are primary factors in the increase. 

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (En Español: 888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.


Court Orders Release of Russian Mom Convicted of Taking Kids

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered the immediate release of a Russian mother whose case garnered international attention after she was convicted of kidnapping for moving her children from the U.S. to Russia amid a divorce. Bogdana Alexandrovna Osipova was convicted in Kansas last year of one count of international parental kidnapping and two counts of attempting to extort money. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in August overturned the two extortion convictions and upheld the conviction for parental kidnapping. The appeals court on Wednesday ordered her release pending resentencing. She has already served the maximum three-year prison sentence allowed on the remaining count.


Amount of Water Released into Missouri River to Be Reduced

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water being released into the Missouri River from a key dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will be reduced later this month. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that the amount of water flowing out of Gavins Point Dam will be reduced starting on Nov. 22 by about 3,000 cubic feet per second each day until reaching a winter release rate of about 17,000 cubic feet per second. That’s down significantly from the reduction seen a year earlier, after heavy rain and snow melt in the spring of 2019 sent the river to record levels and flooded parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.


No. 14 Oklahoma State Visits Kansas State in Big 12 Showdown

UNDATED (AP) — Oklahoma State and Kansas State appeared to be on a collision course between Big 12 unbeatens last Saturday, each team taking on an unranked opponent the week before they faced each other in a big-time showdown in Manhattan. So much for that. Now, the No. 14 Cowboys will be trying to bounce back from an overtime loss to Texas while the Wildcats will be trying to atone for a 37-10 blowout loss at West Virginia.


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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