Kansas news

Dental offices across Kansas closed for more than a month to make sure they weren’t using up critical personal protective equipment needed at hospitals.

Now many are beginning to clean molars and bicuspids again.

Brian Grimmett of the Kansas News Service spoke with David Lawlor, a dentist, and Julie Martin, the president of the Kansas Dental Hygienists’ Association, to find out what you can expect when you go and how they’re trying to keep patients and employees safe.

A Lenexa lab is marketing coronavirus antibody tests that are not federally approved as a way for nursing homes to figure out which workers don’t pose a threat to residents.

State health officials and medical experts say the claims that the tests would provide facilities peace of mind are “wrong” and “risky.” The president of Great Plains Laboratory Inc., William Shaw, canceled an interview with the Kansas News Service. In an email, he said he had not reviewed the sales pitch before it went out.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — In his 15 years as a corrections officer at a northeast Kansas prison, David Carter witnessed stabbings, worked through riots and broke up more fights than he can count. He was used to risky situations.

WICHITA, Kansas — The summer slide. That’s the annual learning loss that happens when students spend three months away from school.

Now researchers warn about a “COVID slide.”

Students will have spent five months out of the classroom, shuttered because of the pandemic, when they return in August.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — A Kansas man who worked at a correctional facility where there are hundreds of COVID-19 cases died Monday from the virus. Three prisoners from the same facility have died in recent weeks.

George “Bernie” Robare, 61, had worked at the Lansing Correctional Facility in northeast Kansas for more than 35 years. His wife, Susan Robare, told the Kansas News Service that he woke up with a headache and a fever on April 22 and was tested for the coronavirus at the Wyandotte County Health Department.

WICHITA, Kansas — Contact tracing is a key component of stopping the spread of infectious or sexually transmitted diseases, and has been for years. It’s also the linchpin in Kansas counties’ plans to effectively reopen and isolate cases of the coronavirus.

“The volume has become quite a bit larger than anything we’ve really ever dealt with,” Johnson County epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh said.

Finney County

El condado de Finney tiene planes para abrir la semana próxima, a pesar de las recomendaciones de oficiales de salud. 

Los comisionados del condado de Finney, actuando como la junta de salud del condado el viernes, votaron 4 a 1 para pasar a la fase uno del plan de reapertura de la gobernadora Laura Kelly, lo que significa que algunas pequeñas empresas podrán reabrir después de que la orden de permanencia en el hogar del condado expire el 10 de mayo.

Art can inspire, motivate and educate.

It also can lead to — let’s say — a good debate.

That’s certainly the case with M.T. Liggett’s sculptures, which, like the artist himself, inspire widely differing opinions.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the requirements imposed on nursing homes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Residents and patients in under-resourced nursing homes, where outbreaks have fueled more than half of Kansas’ coronavirus deaths, will likely pay the steepest price for the state reopening its economy.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The economic shutdown driven by the COVID-19 outbreak put Sherri Calderwood out of work.

Then her job waiting tables opened up again.

But that opportunity came with a tough choice, one she shares with millions of other Americans: Somehow manage without a paycheck or risk her health earning a living.

Several years ago, she had a blood disease that required doctors to remove her spleen, a fist-sized organ that helps the body fight infection.

WICHITA, Kansas — It’s a simple, tempting pitch: hands-on training tailored for specific, high-demand jobs.

It led thousands of students to enroll in Kansas technical colleges. But COVID-19 and a collapsing aviation industry undid that promise.

The past couple of decades have been tough on small, rural grocery stores that often struggle to keep doors open as locals forgo hometown stores for shopping sprees in larger stores in bigger towns.

That is until 5 p.m. on March 11, 2020, two days after a historic drop in the stock market, which would only fall further in the days to come.

Jordan White remembers exactly what happened then.

Now that Kansas is slowly reopening, health officials are preparing for what could be a busy few months of COVID-19 investigations.

A sprawling, low-profile conglomerate based in Merriam, Kansas, owns a pork processing plant in Guymon, Oklahoma, that has become one of the country's latest coronavirus hotspots.

More than 110 workers at the Seaboard Foods plant had tested positive for the virus as of Monday, according to the company.

When Dr. Ashley Olson’s mother-in-law sent her a link to a Facebook page called RVs 4 MDs, Olson didn’t know what to think. Did she really need an RV to quarantine in?

Olson, a third-year chief resident in emergency medicine at Truman Medical Centers, has seen her share of COVID-19 cases lately.

She and her husband live in Parkville. They'd already come up with a routine for what she should do immediately after coming home from her shifts. She felt good about it.

WICHITA, Kansas — Thousands of Reno County voters usually cast their ballots at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, a central location with a high capacity.

Deputy Election Officer Jenna Fager said it’ll look different for this year’s August primary and November general election to avoid spreading the coronavirus. How different, though, she’s not sure.

“We’d have to consult emergency management and our health department and just, kind of, do the best we can,” she said.

New York has been hit hard by COVID-19. As a result, a lot of the news out of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings has been grim.

A poignant moment happened during last Friday’s briefing, though. And it was all thanks to a letter from a retired farmer in Troy, Kansas.

Cuomo was seemingly so touched by Dennis Ruhnke’s letter that he read it in full during his briefing.

TOPEKA, Kansas — With the number of new coronavirus cases still rising steadily and the state’s economy stuck in reverse, Gov. Laura Kelly announced her plans for a phased-in reopening.

The governor’s plan — essentially it lets retailers, restaurants and churches ease into a new normal — comes despite Kansas lagging other states in testing for COVID-19 and growing outbreaks clustered near meatpacking plants.

WICHITA, Kansas — The coronavirus shutdown killed oil prices. That could be a killer for local governments in large swaths of Kansas, places long addicted to the tax money that’s been lost as companies stop pumping crude from the ground.

In some parts of Kansas, counties depend on revenue tied to oil production to cover as much as a fourth of the local property taxes.

With no rebound in prices in a world suddenly awash in a glut of oil, those counties find themselves scrambling to raise taxes elsewhere, slash their budgets, or both.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas law requiring people to prove they are U.S. citizens before registering to vote is unconstitutional, a federal court has ruled.

The decision handed down Wednesday by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel means that no proof of citizenship is needed ahead of this year’s August primary and November general elections.

The Kansas Democratic presidential primary isn’t until Saturday, but turnout is already three times larger than 2016.

For the first time, the state Democratic Party used mail-in ballots due to concerns about COVID-19. Party officials announced Tuesday that they had processed 138,400 ballots -- up from 39,266 in 2016.

Party executive director Ben Meers said he was not surprised by the results.

“COVID presented the point of pivot for us,” he said. “We always thought that voting by mail would increase accessibility for voters and we’ve certainly seen that in 2020."

After six weeks of asking Kansans to stay at home, Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to announce Thursday that the state will start to reopen for businesses and some public gatherings on May 4.

Even if people can travel at-will and previously non-essential retailers can open their doors, the governor likely will leave some restrictions in place and maybe enact new rules.

WICHITA, Kansas — Doctors diagnosed Courtney Buchmann’s breast cancer on March 6, three days before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Kansas.

Buchmann worried, as hospitals braced for an overflow of coronavirus patients, whether the potentially life-saving surgery she suddenly needed would be deemed elective.

WICHITA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly filed a joint motion this weekend with two churches suing her over stay-at-home orders, signaling her first steps to reopen the Kansas economy and tamp down the fight over religious freedom.

The small crew of health care workers at Guadalupe Clinic in Wichita — aided by dozens more who volunteer there — sees nearly 2,000 people a year.

Every one of them is uninsured, and all visits are free.

Guadalupe can’t yet check patients for COVID-19. But emergency federal legislation might help the nonprofit roll out that service to the low-income neighborhoods it serves.

For weeks, hospital workers in the Kansas City area have been warning that the lack of adequate personal protective equipment was putting them at risk when treating COVID-19 patients.

This week, one of those workers, Celia Yap Banago, a registered nurse who had worked at Research Medical Center for more than 40 years, died after caring for a COVID-19 patient, according to the National Nurses United union.

“It’s horrible to find out that she didn’t make it,” says Charlene Carter, a registered nurse who worked at Research with Banago for seven years.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Protesters angry about the stay-at-home order in Kansas and the tens of thousands of people it’s tossed from work rallied at the state Capitol Thursday.

They clogged traffic on the four blocks that ring the Statehouse for more than an hour, honking on horns, calling out slogans on bullhorns and pressing Gov. Laura Kelly to reopen businesses in the state.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic is triggering state budget crises. Kansas is no exception, with tax collections expected to plummet by $1.3 billion between now and June 2021.

“This is more than just a little bump in the road,” said Gov. Laura Kelly, who over the next 15 months (or longer) will have to hash out with the Republican-led Legislature how to stay in the black. That’s because the Kansas Constitution prohibits deficit spending.

Here are the five things you need to know about Kansas’ budget situation.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The more Kansas tests people for the coronavirus, the clearer it becomes that black Kansans are being disproportionately affected — a sobering trend that is true in communities across the U.S.

Black Kansans are three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white people, and more than seven times more likely to die from the virus. Latinos are also about three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

The data mirrors trends seen in across U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit, as well as other states.

Corinne Boyer / Kansas News Service

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — The Finney County Emergency Medical Service department, with its staff of 23, is conserving its N95 masks and only using them when a patient is positive for COVID-19. Like large hospitals, U.S. cities and entire European countries, rural EMS workers aren’t shielded from the medical supply shortage. 

And that’s just one of the challenges rural EMS agencies across Kansas stare down as COVID-19 is being confirmed in their communities. They’re stretched thin, covering hundreds of miles, and seeing the ripple effects from the pandemic that’s shut down communities — something emergency plans hadn’t accounted for. 

Pages