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Headlines for Monday, July 19, 2021

U.S. Surgeon General Worried About Worsening Pandemic Fueled by Delta Variant

The U.S. Surgeon General says he's worried about what lies ahead with cases of COVID-19 increasing in every state, millions still unvaccinated and a highly contagious virus variant spreading rapidly. Dr. Vivek Murthy painted an unsettling picture of the future during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. U.S. cases of COVID-19 last week increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in death historically follows a spike in illness. Murthy says much of the worsening problem is being driven by the delta variant first identified in India. The delta variant is blamed for the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in Kansas and Missouri and now accounts for most COVID-19 cases in both states.  

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Northeast Kansas Sees Spike in Delta Variant COVID Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Northeast Kansas is seeing a sharp increase in cases of the extremely contagious delta variant of COVID-19. The Topeka area had about 150 COVID cases in June. Now, hospitalizations have tripled in just the last two weeks. The Kansas City metro area is experiencing a similar trend. Wyandotte County officials say case numbers haven’t been this high since February. State health officials say the climbing numbers show that more people need to get vaccinated. Across Kansas, COVID hospitalizations had fallen for six months in a row but it appears as if that trend is ending.

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Johnson County Health Department: Schools Should Mandate Masks for Unvaccinated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The health department in the most populous county in Kansas is urging the county's public schools to require students and staff who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear masks indoors when classes resume for the fall. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s guidance Monday came with confirmed cases of the faster-spreading delta variant continuing to rise across Kansas and fueling larger numbers of new COVID-19 cases overall. The state reported Monday that confirmed delta variant cases increased by 20% since Friday, up 158 to 950. State data also showed that Kansas averaged 440 new COVID-19 cases for the seven days ending Monday.

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Routine Pediatric Vaccinations Fell in Kansas During Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) — A new study from researchers at Georgetown University has found that children across the country fell behind during the pandemic on vaccines against dangerous illnesses like whooping cough. Pediatric visits fell by more than a quarter last year and federal health officials saw a steep drop in orders for typical childhood vaccines. Pediatrician Barbara Pahud is an infectious disease expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. She says parents shouldn’t delay vaccines any longer and says even if their local doctor’s office is busy, county health departments are another source for common pediatric vaccines.

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Ex-Prosecutor Who Led USS Cole Team Running for Kansas Attorney General

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A retired assistant U.S. attorney who once led the prosecution of the accused mastermind of the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole is running for Kansas attorney general next year. On Monday, Tony Mattivi launched his campaign for the Republican nomination by announcing that Sedgwick County's district attorney will serve as his campaign treasurer. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Kansas Senate Judiciary Chair Kellie Warren also are seeking the GOP nomination. Mattivi served more than 20 years as a federal prosecutor and was the coordinator of anti-terrorism and homeland security efforts in Kansas before retiring in November. He led the USS Cole prosecution team for five years.

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Kansas State University to Require Freshmen to Live on Campus

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas State University will require first-year students to live on campus beginning in the fall of 2022. University administrators say the move is aimed at helping students graduate faster. K-State is the fifth of the state’s six major universities to implement this type of rule. The University of Kansas in Lawrence is now the only Regents institution in the state without a requirement that freshmen live on campus. Thomas Lane is Kansas State’s vice president for student life. He says campus living can ease the transition to college and helps students stay in school. “That sense of connection to faculty, to staff, to other students, to university resources helps achieve the kinds of student success goals that we want to meet," Lane said. The new requirement may add costs for students, however. An average room-and-board plan at K-State costs about $10,000 a year. Students can still live in a fraternity or sorority. There also are exemptions for students who are married, over 21 or live with family near campus.

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Missouri Girl Hurt when Bolt Crashes Through Vehicle's Windshield in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A girl from Missouri was hospitalized after a large bolt and nut crashed through the windshield of the vehicle she was riding in. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the incident happened in west Lawrence around 5 pm Saturday near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Bob Billings Parkway. Fifteen-year-old Linzie Sanders, of Willard, Missouri, was struck in the face by the bolt. The Highway Patrol did not say in the accident report where the nut and bolt came from. None of the four other people riding in the 2017 Honda Pilot was injured when the bolt crashed through the windshield.

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Kansas City Officers Shoot at Suspect in Car in Traffic Stop

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after Kansas City police officers shot at a suspect in a vehicle early Sunday. The shooting happened shortly after midnight Sunday while officers were conducting a traffic stop near the intersection of Independence and Ewing avenues. Kansas City Police Department spokeswoman Officer Donna Drake said the officers shot at the suspect after the man drove toward officers. Drake said the suspect was not hit by the gunfire. The suspect fled before other officers in the area began chasing the vehicle. The suspect came to a stop about a mile away and fled on foot. After a brief foot chase, the suspect was arrested.

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'Kansas' Rock Violinist and Lawrence Native Robby Steinhardt Dies at 71

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Robert E. “Robby” Steinhardt, a violinist and vocalist with the progressive rock band Kansas, has died of complications from pancreatitis. He was 71. His wife, Cindy Steinhardt, says he died Saturday at a hospital in Tampa, Florida. She announced on Facebook Monday that he had just recorded his first solo album, and had been looking forward to being back on stage and going on tour. The Lawrence native, whose father taught violin at the University of Kansas, was an original member of the band.  Fellow founding band member Kerry Livgren, who lives near Topeka, wrote many of the band's biggest hits, including “Carry on Wayward Son.” Another Livgren hit, "Dust in the Wind," includes an iconic violin interlude, played by Steinhardt.  

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U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Alternate Tests Positive for COVID-19 Virus

TOKYO (AP) — An alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan. Kara Eaker's coach says she tested positive after being vaccinated against the coronavirus two months ago. Eaker and fellow alternate Leanne Wong have been placed in isolation. Both Eaker and Wong are from the Kansas City metro area. The positive test was the latest in a growing line of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics. The Games are set to open Friday with a state of emergency in force in Tokyo. That means almost all venues will be without any fans as new cases rise in the capital.

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Police Charge Man in Deaths of 3 People in Kansas City Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors say a 38-year-old man has been charged in connection with the deaths of three people who were found dead last week in a home in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that Rahman M. Muhammad of Kansas City faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of armed criminal action after he was linked to the slayings by investigators. Prosecutors said he is a relative of the three victims. Police discovered the bodies Thursday after another concerned family member called police after not hearing from the people in the home for several days.

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Confederate Monument Defaced at Wichita Veterans Park

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A granite monument honoring Confederate soldiers at Wichita’s Veterans Memorial Park has been defaced with spray paint. The Wichita Eagle reports that someone painted over the words "Confederate" and "courage, devotion and military duty" referring to Confederate troops. The monument, called the Reconciliation Memorial, is a four-sided granite obelisk with two sides honoring Confederate troops and two sides honoring Union soldiers. It was dedicated in 2016, a year after the removal of a Confederate battle flag in the veterans park. It was commissioned as a compromise designed to tamp down the controversy between Confederate flag supporters and opponents.

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Elderly Kansas Couple Dies After Car Collides with Semi Near Newton

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — An elderly Kansas couple died after their vehicle collided with a semi on Interstate-135 about two miles south of Newton. The Kansas Highway Patrol said 71-year-old Raymond Bina, and his 65-year-old wife, Denice Bina, both died in the Saturday afternoon crash. The Highway Patrol said the Lincoln MKZ that Denice Bina was driving left the highway and crossed into the median Saturday afternoon. The car then overcorrected and crossed into the northbound lanes where it collided with a semitrailer truck. The 25-year-old Udall man who was driving the semi was not hurt in the crash.

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Kansas City Man Sentenced for Shooting Bus Passenger

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting a passenger on a bus in northeast Kansas City last year. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said Sunday that 52-year-old Larry Harris Jr. has been sentenced for shooting a passenger on a bus at a bus stop on March 30, 2020. A jury convicted Harris of first-degree assault and armed criminal action in May. At the time of the shooting, witnesses told police that Harris fired a shot into the bus from the sidewalk as the bus pulled up to the stop. The shot struck a passenger in the back.

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Officials: 15-Year-Old Girl Drowned in Kansas Swimming Pool

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in south-central Kansas say a 15-year-girl drowned in a private swimming pool over the weekend. Officials say the drowning happened Friday night at a home in Harvey County. First responders were called to the home around 9:30 p.m. Officials say the girl was swimming alone in the pool when she drowned. Others in the home found the girl in the pool and called 911. Medics who arrived on the scene performed CPR and rushed her to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The girl's name has not yet been released.  

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Teen Arrested in Another Teen's Shooting Death in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of another teen in Wichita. Police said officers discovered a 16-year-old with gunshot wounds shortly before 10 pm Thursday when they were responding to a reported burglary at a home in north Wichita. That teen was taken to a Wichita hospital where he died. His name wasn't immediately released. After a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old showed up at a hospital with gunshot wounds, police arrested that 16-year-old after learning there had been a fight between those two men and the victim before the shooting.

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Man Who Apparently Shot Himself in Sedgwick County Standoff Identified

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County authorities have identified a 43-year-old man who they say shot himself during a standoff at a motel. Police on Saturday identified the man as Ramiro Rosete Jr. A Sedgwick County deputy stopped a vehicle driven by Rosete late Thursday and discovered that Rosete had an outstanding warrant for suspicion of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Authorities say Rosete fled when the deputy tried to arrest him. Deputies later learned the man was staying at a motel, where he barricaded himself inside. SWAT team negotiators convinced Rosete to surrender, but authorities say that shortly after the agreement, a single gunshot was heard from the suspect's room.

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KCK Police Investigate Deaths of 2 Men Found in Car

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say two men found near a crashed vehicle were homicide victims. Police were called just before 5 am Friday and found two men unconscious and not breathing near a vehicle that appeared to have crashed into a parked vehicle in an industrial area. Officers determined that the men, described as Hispanic and in their 20s, had been shot. Their names have not been released. No arrests have been made.

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Kansas Authorities Find 56 Pounds of Marijuana During Search

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in south-central Kansas seized 89 marijuana plans and several bags of the drug during the recent search of a property northeast of El Dorado. The Butler County Sheriff's office said the 56 pounds of marijuana worth roughly $180,000 was seized during the search on Thursday as part of an investigation of a marijuana growing operation on the property. No arrests were reported immediately after the search, but the sheriff's office said charges are expected soon in the case.

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Kansas City Man Gets 23 Years for Fatally Stabbing Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for fatally stabbing a mother of four in 2018. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said Sunday that 20-year-old Xzavior McDowell was sentenced Friday in connection with the death of 27-year-old Deandrea Vine. McDowell had previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Vine was found stabbed to death on July 28, 2018 in front of the home where she and her four children were living with other family. McDowell and Vine worked together at a Walmart, and McDowell told police she he was in a relationship with Vine before her death.

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Ceremony in Kansas City Honors Victims of Hyatt Regency Skywalk Tragedy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of one of its greatest tragedies with a release of white doves. The Kansas City Star reports that about 100 people gathered at the Skywalk Memorial Plaza to remember the 114 people killed when disaster struck the Hyatt Regency Hotel on July 17, 1981. Hundreds of people had gathered in the hotel lobby for that night's "tea dance" when skywalks collapsed. In addition to those killed, more than 200 people were injured. Brent Wright told the crowd that he is among the "members of a club we did not want to join." He lost his mother and stepfather in the collapse.

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Floyd Cooper, Acclaimed Children's Illustrator, Dead at 65

NEW YORK (AP) — An award-winning illustrator and author of children's books whose mission to offer candid and positive images of Black history included subjects ranging from Frederick Douglass and the civil rights movement to Venus and Serena Williams has died. Floyd Cooper was 65. He illustrated dozens of books and his work on Joyce Carol Thomas' "The Blacker the Berry" brought him the Coretta Scott King Award in 2009 for achievement by a Black illustrator. He also collaborated with such top authors as Weatherford, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson and Howard Bryant. Cooper was a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and at one time worked for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. 

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N-I-L Era Brings Cautious Optimism to Some College-Town Businesses

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Small business owners in college towns across the country have new opportunities with athletes now allowed to profit from use of their name, image and likeness. Some businesses have already reached endorsement deals with athletes to promote their business. That includes a barbecue restaurant in Arkansas reaching deals with members of the Razorbacks offensive line from the football team. Other businesses are trying to get a better handle on the value of deals in a market that is less than a month old. Some are taking a wait-and-see approach and gathering details.

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Chiefs to Bar Fan Interaction with Players at Training Camp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs fans will have to get tickets in advance to visit the Super Bowl runner-up’s training camp this year, and they won’t be able to get autographs from players because of COVID-19. Head team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Paul Schroeppel said Monday that fans won’t be allowed to interact with players under the NFL’s protocols for preventing coronavirus outbreaks. The Chiefs open their training camp July 28 in St. Joseph, Missouri, with attendance limited. Missouri has seen a surge in new COVID-19 cases because of the faster-spreading delta variant. Schroeppel discussed the team's plans on a daily University of Kansas Health System webcast.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 a.m. weekdays and by 1 p.m. on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!    

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