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Headlines for Tuesday, December 15, 2020

 

Health Care Workers in Wichita Start Receiving State's First Coronavirus Vaccines

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health care workers have begun receiving the first of the state’s coronavirus vaccines amid an ongoing surge in cases that has left hospitals stressed. Five employees of the Via Christi Ascension health care system received shots Monday at St. Francis hospital in Wichita, including a critical care nurse, a housekeeper for a COVID-19 unit and a respiratory therapist. Doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer began arriving in Kansas after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized its emergency use Friday. Kansas officials expect the state to receive the first of two doses for 23,750 people this week.

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Kansans Urged to Stay Vigilant Against Virus Despite Vaccine

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Laura Kelly and the state's top health director are urging Kansans to continue following safety practices against the coronavirus even as a vaccine is rolled out in the state. Kelly and Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state's health department, discussed the vaccine with University of Kansas Health Systems on Tuesday. The state began distributing the first round of vaccinations Monday and the process is expected to speed up in the next several days. Kelly said she was relieved the vaccine has arrived. But she said it will be months before the majority of the population is vaccinated, meaning people must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

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Missouri Health Director: Vaccinations Could Start Thursday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri expects to receive more than 220,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines by the last week of December and the first vaccinations could begin by Thursday. Governor Mike Parson's office says that Missouri should receive an initial shipment of 51,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. It will be administered first to health care workers. The following week, Missouri expects to receive an additional 63,675 doses from Pfizer and 105,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

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Kansas Records More than 190,000 Cases of COVID-19 Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded more than 190,000 COVID-19 cases.  Health officials reported Monday that Kansas had identified 190,018 coronavirus cases and 2,109 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.  That's an increase of 4,724 cases and 37 deaths since Friday.  Another update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected Wednesday.

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Kansas Mayor Resigns After Threats over Backing Mask Mandate

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw is resigning after receiving threats over supporting a mask mandate. Warshaw announced Tuesday that her resignation is effective immediately. The Dodge City Globe reports that Warshaw has been threatened since being quoted in a USA Today story published Friday. In the article, she said she supported a mask mandate. Warshaw said Tuesday she loves Dodge City, but she is concerned that people are not acting “normally" because of pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the emails threatening Warshaw have been turned over to police. Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis said the department is determining a proper response to the emails.

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Hundreds of Wichita Students, Staff Infected with COVID-19

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Wichita students and staff members have contracted the coronavirus as the pandemic surges. According to the Wichita Eagle, data show that cases among staff in the Wichita school district increased from 389 to 799 from 389 November 15th until last Thursday. Cases among students rose from 244 to 383 over the same period. Meanwhile, a total of 1,044 employees are under quarantine, which is about 14% of the workforce. The staff quarantines, lack of substitutes and rising COVID-19 case numbers and indicators forced the district’s Board of Education to vote in late November to send about 13,000 elementary students home to learn remotely through at least January 11th.

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Pandemic Backlash Jeopardizes Public Health Powers, Leaders

LINN COUNTY, Kan. (AP) - An investigation has found that at least 181 public health leaders in 38 states have resigned, retired or been fired since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The investigation by The Associated Press and Kaiser Health News shows that at the same time, lawmakers in 24 states have crafted legislation to weaken public health powers. Many public health officials say they can't do their jobs when they are undermined by their political leaders. The public health departures signify an enormous brain drain just as the United States rolls out the largest vaccination campaign in its history and faces what are expected to be the worst months of the pandemic.  Tisha Coleman, the public health administrator for Linn County, Kansas, and other local public health officials across the country have found themselves at the center of a political storm as they combat the worst pandemic in a century.

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Hotels Offered to Kansas Residents Isolating Due to Coronavirus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas residents who need a place to isolate after being exposed to or testing positive for COVID-19 may be able to stay for free in a hotel rented by the state of Kansas with help from the federal government. The goal of the program is to provide people who have no other place to stay with a safe option, so they don't spread the virus. Officials at the Kansas Division of Emergency Management say that renting an entire hotel costs the state roughly $3,000 a day at each site. 

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GOP Attack on New Kansas Lieutenant Governor Previews 2022

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has given the state's top economic development official a second job as the state’s next lieutenant governor. On Monday, the Kansas Republican Party criticized the appointment.  Kelly named state Commerce Secretary David Toland to replace Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers, who is stepping down January 2 to fill a vacancy in the state treasurer’s office. Toland has been commerce secretary since Kelly took office in January 2019. Before that, Toland spent 11 years running a non-profit economic development group in Allen County, in southeast Kansas.  He also served as the treasurer for Kelly’s successful 2018 campaign for governor.

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National Bio-Defense Lab Completion Date Moved to October 2021

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials say it will likely be October 2021 before a national biosecurity lab in Manhattan is substantially completed. National officials announced in April that The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility would not be completed as expected by December because of disruptions in supply chains and construction employee availability caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The federal Department of Agriculture and Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday the new “substantial completion” date is now October. That is when the USDA will have full access to the plant and be responsible for its operation. The new date will also allow time to address necessary technology upgrades and installation of USDA-funded equipment.

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Officials Say Apartment Fire in Wichita Displaces 25 People

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Wichita say an apartment fire has left 25 people looking for a new place to live. Television station KWCH reports that the fire in southeast Wichita was reported around 6 p.m. Monday. Firefighters who arrived at the Lincoln Meadows Apartments found flames and heavy smoke coming from the building and issued a second alarm. Fire officials say the fire was mostly contained to one unit, but said the entire building sustained smoke and water damage. The American Red Cross responded to assist those displaced. Fire officials estimated the damage at about $250,000 to the building and another $100,000 to contents. Investigators are working to determine what caused the fire.

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Kansas Highway Patrol: Woman Killed in Crash near Parsons

PARSONS, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a southeastern Kansas woman has died in a crash involving her car, a pickup truck and a semitrailer. The patrol says the crash happened Monday evening on U.S. 400 about 10 miles east of Parsons. Investigators say 44-year-old Mandy Karstetter, of McCune, was eastbound and had slowed or stopped to turn left when a pickup rear-ended her car. The patrol says the car was pushed into the westbound lane and was hit by an oncoming semitrailer. Karstetter was pronounced dead at the scene. The two other drivers were not hurt.

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Kansas School, Sheriff Sued over Officer's Sexual Abuse

PLEASANTON, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas high school student sexually abused by her school’s resource officer is suing the former sheriff and school for not stopping the abuse. The Kansas City Star reports the plaintiff on Monday filed a federal lawsuit against Linn County’s former sheriff and the Pleasanton Unified School District 344. Former Deputy Sheriff David Huggins pleaded guilty to aggravated indecent liberties with a child in January 2019 for his abuse of the victim beginning in 2017. She was 15 when he impregnated her. He was 44. Huggins was sentenced to more than 15 years for the crime.

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Another Low-Intensity Earthquake Rattles Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Another low-intensity earthquake has rattled Wichita.  Geologist say it's the ninth since Thanksgiving. The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake happened just before 11:30 am Sunday. The USGS recorded it as a 2.8 magnitude. Officials say the epicenter of the weak earthquake was near the Beech Aircraft facility in east Wichita. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.  

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Missouri House Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Claims Made Against State Lawmaker by His Own Children

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House will investigate an incoming lawmaker accused of sexually and physically abusing his children years ago. Republican House leaders in a joint statement Monday said the Ethics Committee will investigate Rick Roeber when the Legislature convenes in January. Roeber didn't immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Monday. Voters in suburban Kansas City elected Roeber in November. In a letter to House leadership, Roeber's adult children wrote that he sexually and physically abused them when they were young. They asked the House's next presumptive speaker not to let Roeber serve. Republicans banned him from their caucus.

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U.S. Supreme Court Won't Revive Kansas Voter Registration ID Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Kansas that sought to revive a law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. A federal appeals court had declared the law unconstitutional. Kansas had been the only state to require people to show a physical document such as a birth certificate or passport when applying to register to vote. The issue is distinct from state laws that call for people to produce a driver's license or other form of photo IDs to cast a vote in person. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led President Donald Trump’s now-disbanded voter fraud commission. 

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Kansas GOP Leaders Act as Electors, Cast State's 6 Electoral Votes for Trump

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican party officials picked to serve as Kansas members of the Electoral College have cast the state’s six electoral votes for President Donald Trump. The electors convened Monday at the Statehouse in the House chamber with Secretary of State Scott Schwab presiding over their 15-minute meeting. They first cast their votes for president, then for Vice President Mike Pence. The electors were led by Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman, and all were state party officials or activists. Trump carried Kansas with more than 56% of the vote in the November election, while Democrat Joe Biden received less than 42%.

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Missouri Presidential Electors Formally Cast Electoral Votes for Trump

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (AP) — Missouri’s presidential electors have cast all 10 of the state’s votes for Republican President Donald Trump. The Electoral College members met Monday at the state Capitol for a brief ceremony to formally write their votes on paper ballots. Though Democrat Joe Biden won nationally, Trump easily carried Missouri with nearly 57% of the vote in the November 3 presidential election. Missouri’s electors were chosen earlier this year by a vote of Republican Party members.

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Police: Arrest Made in Fatal Monday Shooting in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say they've arrested a teenager in connection with the fatal shooting of man on Monday. Police say the shooting happened around 4 p.m. Monday along East Funston Street. Officers called to the scene found Cooper Kelly suffering from a gunshot wound. Kelly later died at a hospital. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a botched drug deal. Witnesses told police Kelly had been in front of a house and talking to someone in a car just before the shooting happened. Police arrested a 17-year-old boy Tuesday morning on suspicion of felony murder and of being juvenile in possession of a firearm.

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Police Investigate Deadly Shooting in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. Officers responded around 5:30 am Saturday and found a man in his late 20s dead inside a vehicle with apparent gunshot wounds. The name of the man wasn’t immediately released. The killing is Kansas City, Kansas's 53rd homicide of the year, according to data tracked by The Kansas City Star, which includes fatal law enforcement shootings.

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Police: Man Shot to Death in Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A man has been shot to death in a south Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood. Police say the shooting happened along Cambridge Avenue around 5 pm Sunday, when several people in the area reported hearing gunfire during a disturbance on the street. Arriving officers found a man inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds. Police say the man died at the scene. Investigators say an initial investigation shows people in two vehicles exchanged gunfire, leading to the death. Police have not announced any arrests or suspects.. 

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Police Arrest Topeka Woman in Connection with Man's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Police have arrested a woman in connection with the death of a man whose body was found south of downtown Topeka on Sunday. Police said the man's death was suspicious but didn't release details about how he died. The man police identified as 73-year-old Charles Jackson was found dead around 5 am Sunday. Police Lieutenant Shane Hilton said 50-year-old Jennifer Jackson was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.  She is being held in the Shawnee County jail.

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Salina Police Officer Recovering After Being Stabbed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A Salina police officer is recovering after being stabbed over the weekend as he tried to make an arrest. KAKE TV reports that the incident happened early Sunday morning, just after midnight, as the officer was making an arrest. Police say a fight ensued with the suspect, later identified as Miguel Alberto Tostado. Police say Tostado stabbed the officer in the torso with a knife and tried to flee, but was quickly captured. Police say Tostado was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and other counts. He's being held in the Salina County Jail. The officer was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released. 

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Kaw Nation Asks for Return of Sacred Prayer Rock

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Native American tribe is seeking the return of a prayer rock that was transformed into a monument honoring Kansas settlers. Before the Kaw people were forcibly moved from Kansas to what is now Oklahoma in 1873, they held ceremonies and gathering before the 23-ton boulder known as the “Big Red Rock.” As Lawrence prepared for its 75th anniversary in 1929, the rock was moved to a park in town. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a letter from the Kaw Nation says the intent is to bring the rock to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove. The long-range goal is to develop the site in Morris County into a place where people can learn about the state’s original inhabitants.

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