Kansas coronavirus

WICHITA, Kansas — More than 26,000 people in Kansas have contracted COVID-19. Roughly 350 of them have died.

While that’s a low death rate, survivors talk of the brutality of the disease, and how full recovery can prove elusive even months after getting infected.

So long St. Joseph, Missouri. For now. Amid the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the Kansas City area, Chiefs players will undergo testing this week before reporting Friday to the Truman Sports Complex for training camp.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will be tested locally as part of a clinical trial seeking to enroll 30,000 participants nationwide.

The University of Kansas Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital will lead the local effort, which calls for the recruitment of 1,500 participants in Kansas and Missouri.

WICHITA, Kansas — Students, teachers and staff members at K-12 schools in Kansas will wear masks, use hand sanitizer once an hour, socially distance and have their temperatures taken daily. That’s according to a new statewide mandate from Gov. Laura Kelly, who says she does not need approval to institute the COVID-19 safety regulations.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — As an inmate at the Wichita Work Release Facility with only a few months left on his sentence, Timothy Lesher enjoyed freedoms that many in prison don’t. He was a line cook at a Wichita restaurant and bought saline solution from Walmart to clean his CPAP machine, which helps him breathe at night.

WICHITA, Kansas — Jennifer Mathes kept her expectations for the spring low.

A sudden, pandemic-driven shift from classrooms to online instruction was bound to throw the Blue Valley school district a curve. That would be a loss for the quality of teaching she could expect for her daughter.

But for the fall?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Kansas has been added to the state’s travel advisory, along with Oklahoma, Delaware and 16 other states previously on their list.

Anyone traveling to New York from Kansas must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

WICHITA, Kansas — A month ago, the University of Kansas Hospital had as few as nine of its beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Now, it’s about twice that.

When the coronavirus-driven statewide shutdown began to go away in mid-May, clinicians in Kansas were confirming about 100 new infections a day. Now, that number has tripled.

Virtually everyone in Kansas is under an order to wear masks when they’re in public starting Friday.

Yet the executive order, officially issued by Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday, comes with exceptions.

The University of Kansas has reversed course and decided to leave it up to department chairs and directors whether to hold in-person classes this fall.

Faculty members had revolted last week after they were told to return to campus beginning Aug. 24, unless they could invoke an exemption under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansans from Liberal to Leavenworth will need to wear a mask in public starting Friday.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said she will issue a new executive order later this week requiring masks. While the State Finance Council will review the order — a Republican-majority panel of legislators that she has clashed with during the pandemic — they cannot revoke it. Only the full Legislature has the ability to do that with a concurrent resolution Kelly's office said.

Monette Johnson wants her husband, Chuck, to see another of the wheat harvests that have been so central to his life.

His career centered around grain elevators and wheat sales. Now in hospice care in Lindsborg, Kansas, he misses those golden fields.

So Monette recruited a family friend to Skype with him during harvest so Chuck can enjoy the scenery.

Fifty-two University of Kansas department chairs have signed a letter challenging the school’s requirement that most classes this fall be offered in person. The faculty members insist they should have the option of teaching online.

The letter, addressed to Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer, was sent after Chancellor Douglas Girod announced last week that KU would hold in-person classes starting on Aug. 24 as part of a shortened semester ending before Thanksgiving. Students will be encouraged to leave the campus after the holiday to minimize the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The head of the agency that’s overseeing Kansas’ response to historic unemployment rates during the coronavirus pandemic resigned Monday.

Governor Laura Kelly said in a statement that Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delía García “inherited an agency that had its funding, its technology and its staff gutted by the previous administration."

She did not say whether García’s resignation was requested, and at a news conference later Monday, she said: “I met with Secretary Garcia Sunday night, and she offered her resignation and I accepted it.”

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas officials will distribute $1 billion of federal aid to help cope with the fallout caused by the coronavirus, but Republicans and the Democratic governor disagreed on where some of the initial funding should go — to the unemployed? to businesses? to private universities?

Gov. Laura Kelly and the legislative leaders that make up the State Finance Council met this week and are targeting local governments with the first $400 million going toward health care needs, like county health departments, protective equipment or other coronavirus-related costs.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — A full two-thirds of Kansans say they don’t personally know someone who’s been infected with the coronavirus.

Yet an overwhelming number of respondents to a survey say the pandemic remade their lives, mostly for the worse.

They talk of worry, boredom. It has cost most of them money. In a time of one-way grocery aisles and when you need to wear a mask to go into a bank, they speak of a future that has hardly ever looked so gloomily foggy.

TOPEKA, Kansas — County health departments in Kansas lacked the resources and manpower to swiftly ramp up “boots-on-the-ground” work when the coronavirus pandemic hit, new research suggests.

The work by researchers at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita sheds light on the state’s preparedness for the pandemic. Local health departments do much of the frontline work gathering test samples from sick people and tracking down others who may have been exposed.

Kansas is about to find out the value of a NASCAR race without people in the stands.

Like every other sport and industry, NASCAR has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately we’ve had to endure layoffs as a company and we’ve had to furlough employees,” says Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway. “Both of those decisions were made so that when this is over, we will be a strong enough organization, as strong as possible, to move forward and survive in a post-COVID 19 environment.”

TOPEKA, Kansas — A deal forged by the governor and legislative leaders extends the Kansas disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus through September, for now ending what’s become a partisan conflict.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Pharmaceutical companies and large hotel chains snatched up emergency COVID-19 federal loans meant for businesses typically with 500 or fewer employees.

WICHITA, Kansas — Educators say there was a silver lining when Kansas schools and campuses had to shut down because of the coronavirus: It was a chance to learn how to do remote learning right.

Now with college finals submitted and most K-12 schools in summer vacation mode, educators are reflecting on those two months of online teaching, especially knowing that some universities will have to do it again come fall (Wichita State plans online-only instruction after Thanksgiving).

Here are six things that Kansas professors and teachers say they’ve learned outside of the physical classroom.

WICHITA, Kansas — For the last two months, employees at Walnut Valley Packing in El Dorado have been working extra hours, even Saturdays, to cut, grind and package meat so it can keep up with a sudden spike in demand.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas no longer will impose a statewide phased-in reopening plan, Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday.

In deciding to veto a bill that would have restricted her powers to respond to the coronavirus, she issued a new emergency declaration.

“This legislation creates more problems than it solves,” Kelly said. She argued it would ultimately delay coronavirus aid from the federal government. “This would only prolong the economic pain of this crisis.”

ANGIE HAFLICH / HIGH PLAINS PUBLIC RADIO

GRACIAS, GRACIAS

José Ambriz de Garden City tiene muchas responsabilidades para un joven de 18 años.

"Cada vez que me voy, le pregunto si necesita algo de la tienda o algo", dijo Ambriz, refiriéndose a su anciana madre, Soledad Salinas, que se ha quedado en el interior desde que el coronavirus comenzó a propagarse en la comunidad.

Angie Haflich/High Plains Public Radio

THANK YOU, THANK YOU

Jose Ambriz of Garden City has a lot of responsibilities for an 18-year-old.

“Every time I leave, I ask her if she needs anything from the store or anything,” Ambriz said, referring to his elderly mother, Soledad Salinas, who has mostly stayed indoors since the coronavirus began spreading in the community.

As businesses around Kansas reopen, and restrictions on everyday life are lifted, more people are wearing masks when out in public.

On a recent afternoon, Billy Chadwick is standing outside Tad's Carryout in Wichita, where he’s a cook. He wears a dark-blue mask — something he’s diligent about.

"I have asthma, but I go to other places I see people don’t be wearing them. They think this is a game," Chadwick said. "This ain't a game."

TOPEKA, Kansas — In a one-day marathon session that wrapped up a legislative year upended by the coronavirus, Kansas lawmakers reined in the governor’s powers to respond to the public health crisis.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly sharply criticized the all-night rush that drafted the bill, but she stopped short of threatening a veto. Instead, she said, she will read the legislation carefully and make a decision at a later date.

While most people across Kansas still slumber, trash truck crews start filing into work — and get their temperatures taken.

The people who haul debris to landfills shifted to working in a mask and doing their best to keep COVID-19 at bay a while ago. While the rest of the Kansas economy awakens from the coronavirus lockdown, trash crews already know the drill.

El Kansas News Service (Servicio de Noticias de Kansas) sintetiza lo más importante de los desarrollos claves del coronavirus en el estado.

Esta lista se actualizó por última vez el 31 de julio a las 1:25 p.m.

27.812 casos (ver el mapa de los condados)

1.751 hospitalizaciones

358 muertes

TOPEKA, Kansas — Starting Friday, Kansans can gather in slightly larger groups, take in a movie, go to an art museum and bowl a few frames.

But concerts, festivals, summer camps and parades will remain shut down. And you still won’t be able to get a drink at a bar.

At a news conference Tuesday a day before a meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House, Gov. Laura Kelly announced another round of gradually eased restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

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