Kansas news

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.

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?

As the University of Kansas prepares to open the men’s basketball season against the number one team in the country, KCUR has discovered that for more than two years its athletic department has paid thousands of dollars a month in legal bills, defending the storied program against serious alleged NCAA violations.

The bills from two law firms started coming weeks after a top executive from Adidas was federally indicted in New York in September 2017.

At least 73 Kansas counties now require masks. The true number could be higher as the dust settles on a midnight deadline for each county to decide.

That’s a sharp increase since the summer, when all but 25 of the state’s 105 counties rejected Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask rules.

WICHITA — Coronavirus cases are at record levels. Just in time to pretty much ruin Thanksgiving.

In Kansas, those cases have hospitals worried about having enough space or staff. That’s prompted local, state and federal officials to urge people to just stay home.

We spoke with three Kansans about their decisions to cancel trips to see family — and the loss that represents.

Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport is looking at a slower-than-normal holiday travel season as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against traveling at all.

Black and Native American babies in Kansas die at almost twice the rate as white infants in their first year of life.

Out of every 1,000 live births, 11.8 Black and 10.4 Native American babies die before their first birthdays in Kansas. Meanwhile, only 5.6 out of every 1,000 white babies die in that period.

There will be no March Madness in Wichita next spring.

Hospitals in Colorado and Nebraska are calling Kansas in desperate search of beds for coronavirus patients. But Kansas hospitals are asking them for the same.

November has brought on the strongest surge yet of the coronavirus across the region — and that’s before Thanksgiving gathers families together.

“The entire Midwest is on fire,” said Steven Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.

People say that western Kansas is empty and flat — and maybe it seems that way when you’re racing along on I-70. But if you venture off the interstate there are some surprising places that defy the Kansas stereotype.

One such place is Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, Kansas' newest state park.

KMUW's Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement, Carla Eckels, is able to add another descriptor to her title: Trailblazer.

Editor's Note: On Nov. 13, Emporia State University announced that it will provide free tests to students that want one before traveling. 

WICHITA, Kansas — In just two weeks, thousands of college students in Kansas will board planes and hop into cars daydreaming of sweet potatoes and turkey legs.

Most of those students won’t return to campus for the rest of the semester. To cut the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the majority of universities in Kansas will have students finish the fall semester online.

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, she will be the first woman, first South Asian and first African American to fill the role.

But she won't be the first person of color.

That title belongs to a Kansan — Charles Curtis, member of the Kaw Nation and President Herbert Hoover's vice president.

Curtis was born in 1860 in Topeka while Kansas was still a territory, and he spent his early years living in both white and Native American communities.

WICHITA, Kansas — Charles Bell usually passes on voting. He’s a Democrat in a Republican state and said, “If I vote, it’s not going to count.”

But after seeing Kansans elect a Democratic governor in 2018, he thought maybe the state was changing. And so this year, for only the second time in his 63 years, he voted, hoping Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier might be elected.

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