Kansas

TOPEKA, Kansas — Fights between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor — over new taxes and her power to shut down businesses in a pandemic — threaten calls on both sides for political unity.

Meanwhile, conservatives in the Legislature push ahead quickly to amend the Kansas Constitution to declare it contains no right to abortion.

This story was updated Wednesday evening after Kansas announced a move to the next phase in its vaccination program.

Hundreds, potentially thousands, of pharmacy workers could inject vaccines into the arms of Kansans in the coming months.

New rules, at least for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, now let an additional class of workers vaccinate more people faster.

Pharmacists could already give shots. But in Kansas, the pharmacy technicians that work alongside them couldn’t.

The Kansas congressional delegation once again split among party lines Wednesday over whether to impeach President Donald Trump, a second time, for any role he played whipping up a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly continued to push for vigilance in the fight against the coronavirus and tried to combat skepticism of the vaccine as she laid out her goals on Tuesday for 2021.

The Democratic governor used her State of the State speech to push for Medicaid expansion — a greater longshot than ever — and asked lawmakers for civility as she prepares for a legislative session where she faces an even more conservative Republican majority in the Kansas Statehouse.

From Kaiser Health News

Keely Connolly thought she would be safe once the ambulance arrived at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center in Kansas.

She was having difficulty breathing because she’d had to miss a kidney dialysis treatment a few days earlier for lack of child care. Her potassium was dangerously high, putting her at risk of a heart attack. But she trusted she would be fine once she was admitted and dialysis was begun.

Members of Kansas and Missouri’s Congressional delegations tweeted that they were safe after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, and Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, said that they were sheltering in place.

For starters, the COVID-19 vaccine doses intended for Ness County in west-central Kansas landed somewhere else.

“That was my first clue we had a problem,” said Carolyn Gabel, the county’s public health administrator.

Then someone from Dodge City called. Those vials bound for Ness City? They hadn’t been kept as cold as needed. They were no good anymore and needed replacing.

Four Republican members of the Kansas Congressional delegation plan to object when Congress meets Wednesday to certify the Electoral College.

Robert Carter and his wife Mary Ridenour drove up to an alleyway behind First Metropolitan Community Church on a cold December morning in Wichita.

After waiting in a line of cars that sometimes backed up for blocks, they greeted The Rev. Jackie Carter, no relation, but a familiar face, who spoke their names into a walkie talkie.

Within minutes, volunteers had packed the food into their car and moved on to the next family.

“I don’t know what we’d do without this place,” Robert Carter said. “When you have four kids, they give you enough.”

COVID-19 poses such dire risks to older people in nursing homes that even vaccines won’t guarantee a quick end to their pandemic isolation.

Tens of thousands of workers and residents at Kansas long-term care facilities will get vaccinated over the next three months. But families aching to visit after such a long separation may not have easy access to their loved ones for several more months at least.

“We will not be clicking our fingers and returning to normal,” said William Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University. “There is not a silver bullet.”

LAWRENCE, Kansas — In north Lawrence, the city set up 20 white-and-gray tents in a park to house people who are homeless.

It’s not health care, or COVID-19 tests, but federal coronavirus tax dollars are paying for the camp.

“If we put our homeless population into the shelter, there’s a higher chance that they’ll get the virus and then they’ll spread it across the community,” Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly said.

Leoti Masterson hasn’t seen her son, Jeff, since March. She used to visit him at the Winfield Correctional Facility once a week to play cards, reminisce and pray together, sometimes for hours at a time.

But when the pandemic started, Kansas prisons stopped allowing visitors as a coronavirus precaution. Now, Masterson makes do with daily phone calls no longer than 20 minutes.

“He’s my closest family member,” Masterson said. “So, yeah, this is hard.”

For more than a year, a sheriff's deputy assigned as a school resource officer (SRO) at a high school in Linn County, Kansas, carried on a "sexual relationship" with a 15-year-old student, sometimes in his office on campus, according to a federal lawsuit.

The two "would sometimes kiss or inappropriately touch while in the school building," the suit alleges.

WICHITA, Kansas — The way kids in Kansas learn to read is in for a major rewrite.

Teachers will soon ditch their time-worn old memorize-and-context-clues methods. In their place, they’ll work with state teacher colleges on new styles meant to accommodate dyslexic students and other children who struggle with books. For instance, they’ll train kids to break down words and to methodically drill through English’s tricky rules.

Truman Medical Centers vaccinated frontline workers against COVID-19 Monday, making it the first hospital in Kansas City to implement inoculations and marking a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

ICU nurse Sarah Kiehl was the first Truman staff member to get the coronavirus vaccine. She's worked in the COVID unit since the start of the pandemic.

Phyllis McCosh was born in 1920, just after the last major pandemic. A century later, she died as a victim of the current pandemic.

McCosh taught piano for the greater part of that century and elementary school music for a third of it. She was born on a farm and spent most of her life on another one, just north of Abilene, Kansas.

When we last talked with Lynn Hutchinson, a nurse working the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, it was July, and Sedgwick County was in the middle of its first big coronavirus wave.

"I think the last time I talked to you, I remember saying I wish I could get on my roof and yell, 'Wear your mask!'" Hutchinson recalled.

"Well, I apparently didn't yell loud enough."

Prairie Village is gaining its first Black police chief in the city’s history.

Maj. Byron Roberson, who has served the Prairie Village Police Department for the past 26 years, will begin his new role as the city’s seventh chief of police when Mayor Eric Mikkelson officially appoints him on Jan. 4, 2021. Mikkelson announced those plans during Monday’s city council meeting.

WICHITA, Kansas — The first of potentially several COVID-19 vaccines could get emergency approval by the end of the week.

But that major milestone is just the beginning of the work for local and state health departments in Kansas that will have to get the pandemic-stalling shots to people — and decide who gets it first, when and how.

Republican legislative leaders will likely keep their sometimes combative relationship with Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.

Conservative Republicans maintained their grip on top jobs in the Kansas House and Senate in leadership elections on Tuesday.

That paves the way for lawmakers to restrict the governor’s powers to respond to the pandemic and continued challenges for some top Democratic priorities, like Medicaid expansion.

In the House, Republican Speaker Ron Ryckman won an unprecedented third term.

EUDORA, Kansas — In 1979, a young boy fell asleep on his father’s chest in their Scott City, Kansas, home. His mother snapped a photo.

A week ago, that father died of COVID-19 in the local nursing home. Marvin Farr’s son, Courtney Farr, penned an obituary.

If you’re buying health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Kansas, for 2021 you’ll have more options than ever — including a big player that sat out the Obamacare market the past few years.

The 2020 market already brought a dramatic increase in options. That trend will continue. A half dozen insurers are now vying for customers.

The family of a New Jersey teenager who died from exertional heat stroke after a grueling football workout at Garden City Community Community College (GCCC) in 2018 has sued the medical personnel who responded to the emergency call for help.

The lawsuit was filed in late October in Finney County District Court and accuses the ambulance crew, the hospital and the emergency department doctor of medical negligence. All of the defendants, the suit alleges, departed "from prevailing professional standard(s) of care" when treating Bradforth.

The Kansas National Guard conducted 28,000 COVID-19 tests and distributed almost 40,000 cases of protective masks, gloves and gowns. Guardsmen have also packaged a staggering 8 million meals. But even as hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients and deaths mount, the guard's pandemic mission is going the other direction.

Col. Michael Venerdi, director of Joint Staff for the Kansas National Guard, says the pandemic mission has stretched throughout most of the year.

Dozens of Kansas nursing homes still wait three days to a week for overwhelmed labs to tell them if their residents have COVID-19.

Most of Wichita attorney Trent Wetta’s clients fall between the ages of 14 and 17, but they can be as young as 10. They typically face misdemeanor charges, such as possession of marijuana or theft, or minor felony charges, like burglary.

It can prove tricky guiding a child through a criminal justice system made by adults with law degrees.

Segment 1 beginning at 5:14: After losses in their states, the Democrats remain confident for the next election.

Neither the Missouri nor Kansas Democratic Party saw the success of presidential candidate Joe Biden reflected in their state races. Now each will evaluate what needs to be done to get better results in 2022.

FREDONIA, Kansas — Nick Baldetti resigned as director of the Reno County Health Department in July.

He left to head an effort to establish a school of health at McPherson College. It was a good opportunity, Baldetti said, but he likely would have stayed to see the department through the pandemic if not for the 80-hour work weeks, the hostile political environment and the threats to his family.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday picked an experienced appeals court judge, who started her career in retail sales, to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.

WICHITA, Kansas — Between concerns about schools staying open and the challenges of learning remotely, teachers and students are haunted by another question that goes beyond 2020: Will snow days disappear forever?

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