Kansas news

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.

Spirit AeroSystems announced another round of layoffs on Friday as the Wichita aerospace company continues to get battered by the grounding of the 737 Max and the pandemic.

Spirit said in a news release it will cut another 1,100 jobs from its commercial programs. That represents 450 new layoffs in Wichita when taking into account previous reductions and employees moving to other programs, such as defense. Some employees also previously agreed to take voluntary layoffs.

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

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.

Kansas let foster care children live in group homes with broken windows, mold, exposed electrical wiring, trashed porches and rodent droppings.

That’s according to an audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Federal inspectors dug into the state’s system of group homes in 2018 and 2019, but their final report only came out this week.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Control of the Kansas Legislature could turn on dozens of down-ballot races in the Aug. 4 primary election, in which many of the contests, particularly for the Kansas Senate, pit conservative Republicans against moderate incumbents.

In Republican Senate primaries, moderates facing their first re-election test since 2016 can no longer use former Gov. Sam Brownback as a foil. And while taxes remain an issue, two perhaps counterintuitive issues are at the core of this year’s legislative contests: Medicaid expansion and abortion.

WICHITA, Kansas — Tornadoes aren’t forming at the same pace as usual this year, creating one of Kansas’ quietest storm seasons in recent memory.

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.

Corinne Boyer / Kansas News Service

Kansas is one of 18 states that the federal government is calling a “red zone” because of increasing COVID-19 cases.

According to documents obtained by The Center for Public Integrity, the government classified states with more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people last week as “red zones.”

Despite that, three of Kansas’ 105 counties, have no reported cases of the virus.

Wesley Ira Purkey was put to death this morning for the murder of a Kansas City teenager in 1998 after the Supreme Court lifted two stays blocking his execution.

Purkey was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 8:19 a.m. EDT.

His execution came after a flurry of legal moves seeking to halt the procedure. On Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., granted Purkey a preliminary injunction after his lawyers said he was incompetent to be executed, citing his dementia, mental illness and a history of being abused as a child.

The Kansas State Fair weathered the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It could not do the same with the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins is in two unusual situations: His re-election bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat is being complicated by two primary challengers and opposition from some in the GOP establishment.

But Watkins is also charged with three felonies related to registering to vote using a Topeka UPS store as his address.

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?

Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which operates health clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, has offered severance packages to dozens of employees as it reels from a financial crisis caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-six employees in communications, development, education, human resources, finance and public affairs were eligible to receive the offers. Friday is their deadline to accept. As of Thursday, nine had accepted.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The state of Kansas has settled a class-action lawsuit with attorneys who represent Kansas foster children.

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.

A lawsuit brought by one of 100 military veterans who were sexually abused by a physician assistant at the VA hospital in Leavenworth will determine if the federal government is liable for damages in what the plaintiff’s lawyer described as “the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of the VA.”

“Countless veterans have never gotten their day in court, have never gotten justice,” the lawyer, Daniel A. Thomas, said in opening statements at the federal trial, which began today. “And more importantly, not a single person from the VA has ever been held accountable.”

The tiny town of Merinac, Kansas -- the setting of KJ Dell’Antonia’s new novel, “The Chicken Sisters” -- is a fictional place. But anyone familiar with a two-lane stretch of road in southeast Kansas will immediately recognize it:

This is “Chicken Dinner Road” -- home of Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s, two restaurants that sit about 300 feet apart and have been the center of a fried chicken debate for 70 years.

As the 2020 election season approaches, KMUW's Election Blueprint will bring you the news and information you need to be an informed and engaged voter. This first video addresses how to check your voter registration status, how to update your registration, and how to register.

Here are some helpful links:

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.

A Miami entrepreneur who led a rural hospital empire was charged in an indictment unsealed Monday in what federal prosecutors called a $1.4 billion fraudulent lab-billing scheme.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction means similar provisions in Missouri and Kansas are no longer enforceable.

In a 5-4 decision, the court found unconstitutional a Louisiana law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Had the court upheld the Louisiana law, the state would have been left with just one abortion clinic.

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 — Facing the prospect of standing in line at polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic, requests from Kansans for mail ballots continue to come in at a record clip.

As of June 17, more than 142,000 Kansans had filed applications for advance ballots for the Aug. 4 primary. That far exceeds the 54,000 requested at the same point in the last presidential election year.

The Netflix show "Tiger King" caught the attention of millions of viewers back in March. The “murder, mayhem and madness” suggested in its subtitle collided in a human train wreck of a drama — but it got Steve Klein’s attention for a different reason.

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.”

Amid a pandemic that has slowed efforts to count Americans, more than a third of Kansas households haven’t yet responded to the U.S. Census.

In some counties, especially in rural areas, less than half of the population has filled out the forms that help steer billions in federal dollars and resources to the state each year.

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