NBAF Delayed - 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 (NBAF) 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.
Western Kansas Mayor Backs Mask Mandate then Resigns After Threats Made Against Her
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas mayor announced her immediate resignation Tuesday because of threats she has received after publicly supporting a mask mandate. Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said she was concerned about her safety after encountering aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article supporting a mask mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported. “I understand people are under a lot of pressure from various things that are happening around society like the pandemic, the politics, the economy, so on and so forth, but I also believe that during these times people are acting not as they normally would,” Warshaw said. The commission voted 4-1 on November 16 to impose a mask mandate, with several exceptions. Ford County, where Dodge City is located, has recorded 4,914 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. The county has about 33,600 residents. Warshaw said despite the threats, she doesn’t regret voting in favor of the mask mandate. “This is harder for me than people realize,” Warshaw said as she began to cry. “I really love this city with all my heart. I still believe in this city, and I believe in their ability to not harm one another.” Some of the threatening emails have been turned over to police. Specific details of the threats were not provided. Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis said the department is looking into the communications to determine its response.
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.
Kansas Nears 195,000 Cases of COVID-19 Since Start of Pandemic
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KPR) - Kansas has recorded more than 194,000 COVID-19 cases. Health officials reported Wednesday that Kansas had identified 194,569 coronavirus cases and 2,253 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 4,551 cases and 144 deaths since Monday. Another update of Kansas COVID-19 cases is expected Friday.
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Kansas Reports COVID-19 Death Surge Amid 1st Vaccine Shots
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — COVID-19 deaths have surged in Kansas in the past week and nearly every part of the state has lost people to the disease caused by the coronavirus, health statistics show. Kansas averaged a record 45 new reported COVID-19 deaths per day for the seven days that ended Wednesday, according to state Department of Health and Environment data. The department reported 144 new deaths since Monday, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll to 2,253. Like other states, Kansas received its first shipment of a vaccine made by Pfizer on Monday and began getting it to health care workers, prison workers and nursing home staff and residents.
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.
Kansans Urged to Stay Vigilant Against Virus Despite Vaccine
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — GovernorLaura 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.
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.
Kansas Inmates Return from Arizona After Pandemic Delay
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is no longer housing inmates in a privately run prison in Arizona after delaying their planned return for nearly six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Kansas Department of Corrections said Wednesday that 118 inmates returned Tuesday from the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Kansas moved inmates there last year to prevent crowding in its state prisons, but the prisons were at 81% of their capacities last week. Kansas reported 85 coronavirus cases among the 118 inmates housed in Arizona but said none of those cases are active. Corrections Secretary Jeff Zmuda said Kansas originally had planned to bring the inmates back by the end of June.
Mail Carrier Indicted for Stealing Mail, Checks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A U.S. Post Service worker has been indicted on charges alleging that he stole mail from customers along his Kansas City, Missouri, route and deposited the checks he found into his own bank account. The U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release that 21-year-old Lane Snider, of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged in the indictment returned Tuesday with one count of stealing mail while he worked for the postal service from June through August. He also is charged with 12 counts of bank fraud related to the deposit of a stolen check, in amounts ranging from $25 to $500.
Wichita on Pace in 2020 to Set Record for Homicides
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita recorded this year's 56th homicide on Monday, one short of the record set in 1993. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says the city is like many others across the country that have seen a sharp rise in violent crime this year. Ramsay attributes the increase to a variety of sources, including stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, record levels of unemployment, COVID-19-related delays in court proceedings and an surge in gun violence. Ramsay said 42 of the deaths have been attributed to guns. Another 11 involved drugs and 12 were related to domestic violence. Wichita had 44 homicides in 2018 and 2019, which was the highest number since 1995.
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 pm 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.
Cyberattack on Independence Systems Causes Bill-Paying Delay
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A ransomware attack on the city of Independence's computer systems has left some residents unable to pay their utility bills. Officials in the Kansas City suburb say the cyberattack occurred last week. City Manager Zach Walker tells KSHB that 90% of the billing issues plaguing the city trace back to the cyberattack, which has left customers unable to pay their utility bills online and has caused a delay in bills being delivered by mail. Walker says staff is working to restore all city systems. He could not say whether any customer's personal information was compromised in the attack, but says the city is working to find out.
Topeka City Council Bans Discrimination Against LGBTQ Persons
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka City Council has voted to ban discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status. The council on Tuesday unanimously approved banning discrimination for LGBTQ and veterans in work, housing and public accommodations. A first offense carries a possible $1,000 fine and six months in jail. A second offense carries a possible $2,500 fine and a year in jail. The ordinance also was updated to prevent discrimination through telecommunication devices, which includes harassment over social media.
Man Arrested in Death of Mother After Ramming Her Car
PARKER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a Kansas man in the death of his 70-year-old mother, alleging that he struck her car with his pickup truck and then turned around and intentionally rammed her vehicle a second time. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that 42-year old James Allen, of Parker, was treated at a hospital Tuesday and then booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree murder. No formal charges have been filed, and it’s not clear whether he has an attorney. The collisions happened about 1/2 mile south of the small town of Parker. The KBI said that Allen left on foot and later returned in a second vehicle. By this time, EMS had responded. His mother, Charlotte Grimes, of Garnett, was pronounced dead at the scene.
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-years-old when he impregnated her. He was 44. Huggins was sentenced to more than 15 years for the crime.
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.
Kansas City, Kansas, Officer Shot in Arm; Suspect Remains at Large
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement authorities are searching for a man who shot a Kansas City, Kansas, police officer in the arm and then fled. The shooting occurred Tuesday afternoon in Overland Park. Police spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand said officers had been searching for the suspect most of the day after he was involved in at least one hit-and-run in Wyandotte County. She says when he was spotted, the suspect got out of his car and began firing at the officer, who returned fire. The officer's injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. It is not clear if the suspect was shot.
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.
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.
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.
Kansas State Latest to Skip Bowl Game Due to COVID-19
At least five Power Five teams have now withdrawn from consideration for a bowl game. Kansas State is the latest. The school has paused all football activities indefinitely amid an outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. The First Responders Bowl in Texas was the likely destination for Kansas State. The Wildcats are the first Big 12 team to withdraw. They join three ACC teams — Boston College, Virginia and Pittsburgh — and Stanford out of the Pac-12.
Kansas City Chiefs Lead AP Pro32 Poll; Packers at No. 2, Bills at No. 3
NEW YORK (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are still on top in the latest AP Pro32 poll. The Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills each moved up two spots to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. And the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers each slipped two places No. 4 and No. 5 after losses on Sunday. The Saints host the Chiefs this Sunday.
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.