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Headlines for Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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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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.” 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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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 comes 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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Kansas Debate Intensifies over Nursing Homes' Visitor Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Families and advocates for the elderly in Kansas argue that with most nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID-19, some facilities’ visiting rules need to be relaxed. A state official who investigates complaints against nursing homes and the elder-care focused Kansas Advocates for Better Care called on the state Tuesday to intervene when nursing homes aren’t open enough. Some industry officials still see a need for caution because of the growing presence in Kansas of the faster-spreading delta variant. Operators feel they're still facing tough choices after nursing homes were COVID-19 hot spots earlier in the pandemic, but advocates for residents worry that the delta variant could cause homes to lock down again.

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Missouri Vaccine Outreach Aims to be Non-Confrontational

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — With the delta variant causing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in southwestern Missouri, health officials have taken to going door-to-door in an effort to encourage vaccinations. The Kansas City Star recently followed along as health officials knocked on doors in Springfield, handing out brochures. The newspaper reports that the effort was non-confrontational and the officials always took “no” for an answer, despite concerns raised by Governor Mike Parson and other Republican leaders that the outreach would be heavy-handed. Southwestern Missouri has seen an alarming rise in illnesses caused by COVID-19 in recent weeks.

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Officials: Man Shot 2-Year-Old as Girlfriend Flees Attack

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been accused of kidnapping his girlfriend and her two young children, then shooting the woman's 2-year-old daughter as the woman fled when he threatened her with a knife. The Reno County Sheriff's Office says it happened Monday, accusing 21-year-old Kamden Campos, of Wichita, of driving the woman and her children to Cheney Lake, where police say he forced the woman at knifepoint to the edge of the lake. Investigators say the woman bolted when Campos became briefly distracted, jumped into the car and sped off. Deputies say as she fled, Campos fired shots at the car, and one bullet hit the 2-year-old in the back seat. The child later underwent surgery for her injuries, and deputies arrested Campos after a manhunt.

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12-Hour Standoff Leads to Arrest of Southwest Kansas Man

MEADE, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Meade County Sheriff’s Office arrested a southwest Kansas man after a standoff that lasted nearly 12 hours. KWCH TV reports that the standoff started early Sunday morning in Meade. Sheriff’s deputies tried arresting 38-year-old Daryl Wilkerson on allegations of harassment and assault, but he barricaded himself in his home. Deputies contacted the KBI, and a negotiator convinced him to come outside around 2:45 pm Monday. Wilkerson again resisted arrest, and agents fired a less-lethal round as he retreated back into the house. Wilkerson then fired a gunshot through the house, but no one was hurt. Negotiators convinced him to come outside just before 5 pm and deputies arrested him without incident. Additional charges related to the barricade and shooting incident are expected.

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3rd Child Dies After House Fire that Killed 2 Others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a third child has died following a house fire in Kansas City last week that killed two other children. The Kansas City Police Department on Monday identified the victims as 10-year-old Chace Freeman, 4-year-old Achilles Hardy and 3-year-old Maxwell Hardy. Police said in a news release that Chace and Maxwell died last week, while Achilles died Monday of his injuries. Two other people were also injured in Wednesday’s fire at the home. Two other people were also injured in Wednesday’s fire at the home.

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Vigil Held for Missing Kansas Man Last Seen in Arizona

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A rosary was held Monday night for Kansas native Robert (Bobby) Cuillo who was last seen in Scottsdale, Arizona. A missing persons report was filed with the Scottsdale Police Department over the weekend. KWCH TV reports that Cuillo was last seen on Saturday, July 17, around 1 am near Wasted Grain in Scottsdale. Investigators are following up on leads and examining videos from businesses in the area. KPHO in Phoenix reports that around 9:30 am Monday, a body was pulled from the canal in the same area Cuillo went missing. Friends and family fear it could be the body of the 23-year-old missing man. A vigil was held Monday night at the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita for Cuillo, but the church updated a post on Facebook to say that those in attendance would instead be asked to “pray for the repose of Cuillo’s soul.” Scottsdale police said the Maricopa County Examiner’s Office will make the official identification of the body.

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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 his as 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' 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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Man Sentenced for Woman's Death at Kansas City Arts Event

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the death of a woman struck by a stray bullet at a Kansas City arts event. The Kansas City Star reports a judge on Tuesday sentenced Deon’te Copkney to 18 years for second-degree murder for his role in Erin Langhofer's 2019 death. The Overland Park woman was shot in the head during a First Friday event. Thousands of people were mingling in the city’s Crossroads District when gunfire erupted. Police say she wasn't connected to the fight that prompted the shooting.

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3-Year-Old Boy Drowns at Southwest Missouri Lake

NIXA, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old boy has drowned in Table Rock Lake in southwestern Missouri. Springfield television station KOLR reports the drowning happened Sunday night. Authorities say the boy was left unattended and without a life vest around 9 p.m. at the Mill Creek Park swim area at the lake and was found floating in the water later in the night. The child was flown to a Branson hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The drowning was the 12th handled this year by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop D, which covers an 18-county area in the state's southwestern corner.

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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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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 p.m. 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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No Black Voices Heard During Missouri Hearing on Racism Teachings

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri legislative committee has held a hearing on how race and racism is taught in schools without hearing from any Black Missourians. No Black parents, teachers or scholars testified Monday to the Joint Committee on Education during the invite-only hearing on critical race theory. Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Republican Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin says she wanted to raise voices of critical parents who feel they haven't been heard by their local schools. Democratic lawmakers and Missouri's NAACP president say the hearing was one-sided.

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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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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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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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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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Kansas City Chiefs Re-Sign DE Alex Okafor to 1-Year Deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Veteran defensive end Alex Okafor has signed a one-year deal to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, just days before the first players begin reporting for training camp. The Chiefs did not disclose financial terms in announcing the deal Tuesday. The 30-year-old Okafor has 30 sacks and 183 tackles in eight NFL seasons, including the past two with the Chiefs. He joined the club as a free agent from New Orleans in March 2019, signing a three-year, $18 million contract. He missed playing in the team’s victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV because of torn pectoral muscle.

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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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