Kansas news

At a Kansas City, Kansas, nursing home, employees tested positive for COVID-19 and went back to work the next day.

Health workers cared for residents who had tested negative for the virus in the same gowns and masks they’d worn into the rooms of those who’d tested positive.

“I wash my hands,” a nurse told inspectors. “But I wear the same PPE.”

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Cottonwood Incorporated in Lawrence helps about 75 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with jobs, assembling things like cargo straps for the federal government and medical kits.

When the day is done, Cottonwood takes them back to their homes in the community. Ettie Brightwell stood outside the building in August, telling people goodbye. Brightwell, Cottonwood’s community relations and development director, even stopped one man to tie his shoe before he boarded a van.

Sedgwick County plans to offer a rapid response saliva test to detect COVID-19 beginning next week.

The test will be available at the county’s drive-thru testing location in east Wichita and at mobile outreach testing sites. The county will also continue to offer the nasopharyngeal swab sampling it has conducted since March.

Deputy County Manager Tim Kaufman says a few other sites like nursing homes will also have the saliva test available in the first phase of the rollout. The plan is to gradually provide the test to health clinics that do COVID-19 sampling.

After this story was published, the Trump administration, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ordered a nationwide halt on evictions through December for people who lost work during the pandemic.

TOPEKA, Kansas — As many as 40 million Americans – including 357,000 Kansans – face the risk of eviction in the next several months.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — When school buildings across Kansas shut down in March, parents and students had to adjust to shorter class times, Zoom sessions and take-home packets.

Meanwhile, families in the foster care system faced extra challenges: keeping up with training sessions, therapy appointments and social worker visits.

LENEXA, Kansas — One lab has helped seven Kansas universities test tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff for COVID-19 for the fall semester. And all anyone needed to do was spit.

Saliva lab work has the potential to dramatically increase testing of asymptomatic Kansans with no known COVID-19 exposure, state health officials say. That’s a critical ingredient for stopping the pandemic.

HUMBOLDT, Kansas — It might not be growing in population, but Humboldt in Allen County is one Kansas town that has defied the odds in other ways.

Drive around town and there is a coffee shop, a frame shop, a working 19th-century cabinet shop that makes high-end furniture, a shaved ice shop, a candy shop and four restaurants. As 2020 dawned, a family restaurant with a microbrewery and a new grocery store was in the offing, along with more building and construction, more businesses coming to town.

A 17-year-old female who was fired as a Boy Scout staff member after just 12 days is suing the Kansas City chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, saying she experienced rampant sexual harassment and discrimination.

The lawsuit against the Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America, includes graphic descriptions of Boy Scout staff members engaged in drunken party activities, describing the size of their penises and barging in on women as they changed their clothes at Boy Scout camp.

Students who live at four fraternities and five sororities at the University of Kansas must quarantine for 14 days.

Using contact tracing, the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health agency said people in the Greek homes were most likely to have come in close contact with some of the 200-plus students who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Chapter members who live elsewhere are not part of the order.

Half a year into the pandemic, Kansas nursing homes still face uneven access to fast COVID-19 testing through the state’s patchwork of private labs and hospitals. And the prices they pay for it vary widely.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, says it will no longer cooperate with cases brought by inmates whose phone calls with their attorneys were recorded at the pretrial detention prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

In a notice filed in federal court on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney said that after consulting with the Justice Department, it “has determined that it cannot and will not comply with the Court’s July 27, 2020 discovery order, which the Department has concluded is both unreasonable and contrary to law.”

WICHITA, Kansas — Some students at public universities in Kansas have, or will yet get, the coronavirus.

Football players training over the summer have tested positive. A frat house in Manhattan has an outbreak. And some dorm students elsewhere in the state have gone from just-unpacked to quarantined.

Schools spent the summer preparing. Desks have been moved six feet apart. In-person classes are getting cut back. Masks must be worn.

An investigation by the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica found that despite years of warnings about the possibility of a pandemic, meatpackers didn’t heed guidance on how to prepare.

The report says infectious disease experts and emergency planners had modeled what might happen with the arrival of a highly contagious virus, including how an outbreak might create food shortages and plant closures.

And those experts repeatedly urged companies and government agencies to prepare.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Johnson County Chief Judge Kelly Ryan has seen some people show up to court shirtless, vaping and country-western dancing.

The county has held more than 25,000 virtual court hearings on the video conference software Blue Jeans since its courthouse closed its doors in March.

Sometimes people need reminders, Ryan said, that a video call is just as serious as attending court in person.

In the race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, one of five major trials nationally will be conducted in collaboration with the KU School of Medicine-Wichita Center for Clinical Research along with more than 100 other testing sites nationally.

“We really do want to see if this vaccine is effective at preventing the spread of this disease,” said center director Tiffany Schwasinger-Schmidt, who is a physician and an assistant professor at the school.

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says Kansas is at a turning point to get the state's positivity rate under control.

Birx traveled to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, as a part of a multi-state tour to talk with governors and health officials about local efforts to combat COVID-19.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Labor has struggled to handle an explosion of unemployment filings.

That’s left 25,000 claims waiting for approval — and thousands of Kansans standing by for the checks that could help them stay afloat through a jobless stretch in an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WICHITA, Kansas — Online schooling got off to a rocky start in Kansas, with teachers quickly piecing together virtual offerings. Parents complained about needing to be constantly involved while the work failed to engage their students.

Now faced with sending their children back to a physical classroom this fall, Kansas parents are trying to enroll kids in the state’s virtual schools. Lawrence’s received more than three times as many applicants compared to this time last year, and Wichita Public Schools' Education Imagine Academy filled up in a week.

The government deliberately withheld medical records showing that Wesley Ira Purkey was incompetent to be executed before rushing ahead with his execution last month, Purkey’s lawyers contend in a legal filing in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The document, titled “Plaintiff Wesley Purkey’s Motion To Dismiss on the Ground of Mootness,” says that while Purkey’s claims “have become legally moot, the facts surrounding the circumstances of Mr. Purkey’s execution cannot and must not be similarly extinguished.”

WICHITA, Kansas — Kansas teachers that don’t feel safe going back to crowded hallways as schools reopen could take medical leave or teach online. But at the many districts that don’t have those options, teachers eye another choice: quitting.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Getting married and having your first child is stressful enough. Try making those life changes during a pandemic. As a teacher.

The Kansas City Council offered a lesson in racial sensitivity Thursday which resulted in Mayor Quinton Lucas ordering Councilwoman Teresa Loar to undergo implicit bias training in the next seven days for mocking a Black colleague during a public meeting.

“I do hope that even though the world is tense ... that we will treat each other with respect and understand when we fall short, that it’s necessary and essential that we do better and that we try to make it right, however we can,” Lucas said.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A near sweep by conservatives over moderates in several primary races this week sets up more conflict over the next two years between the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

“There will be a lot of feuding and fighting going on, particularly given the COVID situation,” said Rep. Tom Phillips, a moderate Republican from Manhattan who isn’t seeking a fifth term.

Republican leaders could further limit Kelly’s power to guide the state’s response to the pandemic and power past her objections to reducing corporate taxes.

The operator of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, is terminating 70 workers after the prime contractor lost its contract to run the facility.

In a WARN Act notice filed last week, XPO Logistics Supply Chain Inc. said the terminations will take effect beginning September 30 and extend over two weeks.

The plant, one of the biggest employers in Independence, makes small-caliber ammunition for the U.S. military.

Joe Checkler, a spokesman for XPO, said at least some of the workers will likely be hired by the new contractor.

There’s a lot riding on a Kickoff set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

The Sterling College Warriors are scheduled to take on the McPherson College Bulldogs at home. If that familiar thud of shoe against football and cheer from the stands doesn’t happen, the college that keeps the central Kansas town’s economy humming, that gives it cultural vitality, and that separates Sterling from the hollowing out that defines so many other small Midwestern towns, might not survive.

Another settlement has been reached over the illicit recordings of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

The settlement calls for the private operator of the prison, CoreCivic Inc., and the operator of its phone system, Securus Technologies Inc., to pay $3.7 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought four years ago by attorneys whose conversations with their clients were recorded.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Steven Bough gave preliminary approval to the deal, which covers the claims of roughly 750 attorneys.

CORINNE BOYER / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

One western Kansas resident's recovery from COVID-19 was made worse by an unpleasant health care experience.

Unofficial results have been posted. Listen to KMUW 89.1 FM on Wednesday morning for analysis on local and statewide races. 

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas’ biggest primary race was one of the first to be decided Tuesday: U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall secured the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and will face Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier in the November general election.

Officials had cautioned that the record numbers of mail-in advanced ballots — a sign of the times in a pandemic — could lead to delayed results. But by 10:30 p.m., all of the major contests were over.

Although both the Democratic and Republican parties ditched their presidential primaries this year, there are still several significant races on Kansas primary ballots on Aug. 4 — and plenty of down-ballot races that need deciding, too.

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