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Headlines for Saturday, January 2, 2021

Kansas to Test for New Coronavirus Strain

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials plan to use genetic testing to identify a new, more contagious coronavirus strain. No cases of the new strain have been found yet in Kansas. The new strain was first detected in England and cases have been confirmed in Colorado, California and Florida. Dr. Lee Norman, head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said this week that the state already does genetic testing with about 1% of COVID-19 patients and it plans to increase its lab capacity so it can do more tests. He said viruses often have minor genetic variations, and they generally don't make much difference.


Two People Killed in Separate New Year's Shootings in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita recorded two deaths in separate shootings just hours into the New Year. Police say 22-year-old Gabriel Campos-Torres died after being shot just after midnight in southeast Wichita. Police say 18-year-old Noah Martin of Wichita and a 16-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder. The second fatal shooting occurred at a New Year's Eve party in northwest Wichita. Police spokesman Charley Davidson said 26-year-old Nicholas Sims was shot at a party attended by about 50 people. Davidson said Sims got into an argument with someone at the party. Investigators are trying to determine the circumstances of that shooting.


Governor Kelly Promises Another Push for Medicaid Expansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly will push again this year to expand Medicaid in Kansas even though top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature are less receptive to the idea than they were last year. Kelly said during a recent Associated Press interview that she will “never stop fighting” for expansion. But the Republican supermajorities in both chambers became more conservative in last year’s elections. Incoming Senate Majority Leader and Wichita Republican Gene Suellentrop said GOP leaders have a long list of issues they want to tackle, and Medicaid expansion “is not on the radar.” Kelly responded that she never said passing an expansion bill would be easy.


New KCK Lawmaker Denied Committee Assignments

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top Democrat in the Kansas House is refusing to give an incoming lawmaker any committee assignments over issues that include an anti-stalking court order filed against him after he won his seat. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer’s action this week is a sign that he and fellow Democrats plan to try to oust Rep.-elect Aaron Coleman of Kansas City, Kansas, once the Republican-controlled Legislature convenes January 11th. The 20-year-old Coleman narrowly ousted a veteran lawmaker in the Democratic primary in August and faced only write-in candidates in November. A woman who ran his primary opponent’s campaign accused him of harassing her. A judge issued a no-contact order on December 4th.


Charge Dismissed in Garden City Restaurant Owner's Death

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed a murder charge in the death of a Garden City restaurant owner but the charges could be refiled if new evidence is found. The Finney County attorney's office said Thursday it had dropped the charge against 32-year-old Marcus Roady. He was a suspect in the September 2019 death of 69-year-old Charles Ernie Ortiz, owner of the El Conquistador Restaurant. Police found Ortiz lying in the restaurant's parking lot suffering from numerous gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at a Garden City hospital. The Finney County attorney said in a statement that current circumstances dictate dismissal of the charge.


Three Youths Arrested in Connection with Topeka Mall Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An 18-year-old and two juveniles have been taken into custody in connection with a fire at an abandoned Topeka mall that authorities believe was intentionally set. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a tip led to the arrests on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear on Thursday if charges had been filed. The fire on Tuesday morning at White Lakes Mall caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. The mall opened in 1964. Its popularity waned after the larger West Ridge Mall opened in west Topeka in 1988.

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