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Headlines for Monday, November 30, 2020

 

Kansas Certifies Election Results Showing Trump Win

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have certified election results showing President Donald Trump won the heavily Republican state to claim the state’s six electoral votes. The Kansas State Board of Canvassers said on Monday that over 56% of Kansas votes were cast for Trump. The hotly contested U.S. Senate race was certified with Republican Roger Marshall chalking up over 53% of the vote against Democrat Barbara Bollier. The election drew historic turnout despite the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 71% of registered voters cast ballots. In the 2016 general election slightly more than 67% voted.

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Surge in Virus Cases Stresses Rural Hospitals Across Kansas

HOLTON, KAN. (AP) — Small rural hospitals in Kansas and Missouri are increasingly spending hours searching for facilities they can transfer patients to because they are struggling to cope with the surge in coronavirus cases.  As the region's hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients, smaller hospitals like the one in Holton are finding it difficult to treat patients who don't have the disease but still need care.  “People don’t just stop having heart attacks or those sorts of things,” said Carrie Saia, CEO of the hospital in Holton, which is about 30 miles north of Topeka, Kansas. “I just worry that we’re going to be so consumed that we’re not really able to care for some emergency that comes in.”  The urban and rural health care systems in Missouri and Kansas are intertwined, with smaller hospitals identifying which patients need more advanced care and transferring them to larger facilities in bigger cities, the Kansas City Star reported.

But lately, smaller hospitals have been spending hours searching for beds for their patients in larger facilities in places such as Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri.  When COVID-19 patients stress the capacity of smaller hospitals, it makes it harder to care for patients with heart attacks, strokes or other serious conditions.  “Those patients, when they come through our doors, honestly that’s a little more scary than COVID,” said Valarie Davis who is the administrator of Mercy’s smaller hospitals in Cassville and Aurora, Missouri. “We have to get them somewhere as quick as we possibly can.”  And rural hospital administrators increasingly worry about how the surge in patients is affecting their nurses and doctors.  “I’ve had one of the nurses literally break down right in front of me because of her concern for one of the patients, which is a wonderful thing but it takes a toll on the staff,” said Dennis Franks, CEO of the 25-bed Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, in southeast Kansas. “They’re working a lot.”

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Kansas COVID-19 Cases Surpass 157,000; More than 1,500 Virus-Related Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded more than 157,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,500 virus-related deaths.  The state health department reported Monday that Kansas had identified 157,446 coronavirus cases and 1,560 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Those numbers indicate an additional 4,425 cases and 31 deaths since Friday. Another update of Kansas COVID-19 case statistics is expected Wednesday.  

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Kansas Hospital Officials Fear Nursing Shortage Amid Surge

UNDATED (AP) — Hospital and nursing officials fear if COVID-19 cases continue unchecked there will not be enough nurses to staff new hospital beds in the near future in the Kansas City metro area. Kansas health officials on Monday added 4,425 cases to the state’s pandemic tally since Friday, bringing the total to 157,446. The data showed that Kansas averaged 2,198 new confirmed and probable coronavirus a day for the seven days ending Monday. That is below the record average of 2,766 cases. The number of COVID-19 related deaths also rose by 31 to 1,560.

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Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Closes Because of Virus Cases

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum decided it would close for 10 days. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick said officials decided to close the museum starting Sunday as a precautionary measure to protect staff and visitors. Kendrick said the museum plans to reopen on December 8.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues.

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Missouri Virus Hospitalizations Continue to Strain Hospitals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the St. Louis area set another new record Sunday even as the most-recent statewide hospitalization numbers declined slightly. The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said the seven-day average of new patients in the area increased by 13 to 897 Sunday to set a record for the third day in a row. The data includes patients from BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities in the St. Louis area. Statewide, the number of hospitalizations dropped to 2,654 from 2,813 on Thursday, which was the most-recent data available.

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Empty Seats, Delivered Feasts as Virus Changes Thanksgiving

UNDATED (AP) - Americans marked the Thanksgiving holiday amid an unrelenting pandemic that upended traditions at dinner tables all around the country. Zoom and FaceTime calls have been fixtures this year, and people who have lost family members to the virus kept an empty seat at the table to honor their loved ones.  Nationwide, reports indicated that far fewer volunteers helped at soup kitchens and community centers. A Utah health department delivered boxes of food to residents who are infected with the virus and can't go to the store. A New York nursing home offered drive-up visits for families of residents struggling with celebrating the holiday alone.

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Kansas City Area WalMart Stores Offering COVID-19 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 are available at the Walmart store on Kansas Avenue in Bonner Springs.  Drive-through pick-up of the kits is available at the Supercenter on Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas, and at 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 the patient sample.

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Governor Picks Appeals Court Judge for Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly appointed state Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court. Monday's appointment was made despite the objections of the state’s most influential anti-abortion group. It is Kelly’s third appointment to the seven-member court in less than two years in office. Under the state constitution, her choice is not subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Standridge will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Carol Beier. The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposed Standridge because she sided in a 2016 ruling with other judges who said the state constitution protects abortion rights.

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Wichita Police Investigating Stabbing Death of Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita are investigating the stabbing death of a man inside a home. Television station KSN reports that firefighters in the area were flagged down just after 4 p.m. Sunday by a witness to the stabbing. Firefighters then called police, who found 32-year-old Rickey Mason, of Wichita, fatally wounded inside the home. Police say witnesses reported Mason and another person were arguing over property when the other person pulled a knife and stabbed Mason in the chest. Police have not reported any arrests in the case, but say they know the identity of and are searching for a suspect.

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Cause of Fire at Kansas Alcohol Plant Remains Under Investigation

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say no one was hurt in an explosion and fire at a distilling plant in Atchison that was fined earlier this year over a noxious cloud of fumes that sent dozens to the hospital in 2016.  Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said the blast happened around 8:15 pm Friday at MGP Ingredients, which is a supplier of distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches. The cause has not been determined. Earlier this year, the company was fined $1 million for violating the federal Clean Air Act.

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Small 2.6, 2.7 Magnitude Earthquakes Rattle Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Small earthquakes rattled Wichita for two straight days. The Wichita Eagle reports that a trembler on Thursday measured 2.7 on the Richter scale, while one on Friday had a magnitude of 2.6. The threshold for damage usually starts at 4.0.  United States Geological Survey geophysicists Paul Caruso said 26 people "in and around Wichita" reported to the USGS feeling Friday's earthquake.  Both quakes had epicenters in the eastern part of the city.  Caruso said people who felt the quake would have been close to the epicenter and would have experienced a little bit of vibration.  "Maybe they would see their chandelier swinging back and forth," he said.  "We certainly wouldn't expect any damage to be caused by anything that small."

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Sewage Testing Helps Health Officials for Virus Surges

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A study that tests for parts of the coronavirus in sewage is giving public health workers advance notice of virus surges. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the City of Lawrence has been taking weekly sewage samples at both of its wastewater treatment plants to test for components of the virus shed in feces as part of a study contracted through the University of Kansas School of Engineering. The city has also been sharing that data with local and state health departments. Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health spokesman George Diepenbrock said that the presence of the virus in wastewater has served as an early predictor of surges in positive cases, providing about a week's notice and giving the health department valuable lead time.

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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.

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Consumer Agency Urges Kansas Regulators to Reject Solar Rate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A state consumer advocacy agency has urged regulators to reject Evergy’s proposal to add charges to recover the cost of providing solar energy. The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board requested a temporary plan in which Evergy would charge solar and non-solar customers the same. The Wichita Eagle reports Evergy proposed new rates after their current rate structure, which included fees to customers who generate their own electricity, was ruled discriminatory by the Kansas Supreme Court. Evergy contends it needs to recover the cost of providing on-demand electricity for solar-equipped homes that don’t use many kilowatts. It argues customers without solar are subsidizing those who use solar power.

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Police Investigating Homicide in Kansas City Neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating another Kansas City killing as the homicide total for the year climbs to 174. Police said officers found the the body Friday night near homes while responding to a report of a “suspicious party.” Police spokesman Captain David Jackson said the injuries were consistent with foul play. But police were unable to determine a cause of death at the crime scene. The homicide total is up sharply from 2019. By this time last year, there had been 139 killings.

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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 pm 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.

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2 Teens Accused of Spraying Mace in Carjacking Attempt

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police arrested two teenage boys accused of spraying a woman with mace at a Wichita shopping center during a failed attempt to steal her car. The Wichita Police Department said in a news release that the arrests of the juveniles stem from an incident at 11 a.m. Sunday at the West Way Shopping Center. A 50-year-old woman reported two males tried to steal her SUV as she was getting inside. A 13-year-old was arrested on suspicion of robbery, simple battery, simple battery of a law enforcement officer and other charges. A 15-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of robbery, simple battery and obstruction.

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Shawnee Mission Schools Under Pressure to Change Mascot

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee Mission school district is looking at making changes to mascots that use Native American imagery. That comes after thousands of people, including current and former students, signed a petition seeking to have the Shawnee Mission North High School drop its Indians name and mascot. More than 3,300 people signed a Change.org petition urging the district to change the mascot by the school's 100th anniversary in 2022. There also have been protests, including several marches near the high school. The Kansas City Star reports that the coronavirus pandemic stalled the district's response this year. But district officials now say a committee set to meet on Thursday will take steps to review how other districts have implemented mascot policies.

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New Quarter Pays Homage to a 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 Wichita Eagle reports that 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.

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Kansas City Chiefs Escape Florida with Win over Tampa Bay Bucs, 27-24

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Another slow start doomed Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs rebounded from falling behind by three scores in the opening quarter but ultimately couldn't catch the Kansas City Chiefs in a 27-24 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions. Tampa Bay has been outscored 52-7 in the first quarter of the past four games and lost three times at home during that stretch. Brady threw two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. By that time, it was too late and the damage had been done.

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Gonzaga, Baylor Stay Atop AP Top 25; Jayhawks Drop One Spot 

UNDATED (AP) — Gonzaga and Baylor remain the top two teams in the first Associated Press men’s college basketball poll of the regular season. The Zags received 57 first-place votes from a 63-person media panel. The Bears received six first-place votes, with Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois rounding out the top five. Gonzaga was the preseason No. 1 and lived up to the billing by rolling over Kansas and Auburn in Fort Meyers, Florida. The Jayhawks dropped a spot to No. 7 this week but were ranked for the 222nd consecutive week to break UCLA’s all-time record set from 1966-80. Villanova and Virginia plunged after losses while Virginia Tech entered the rankings at No. 16 and Richmond at No. 19. 

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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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