Kansas Meatpacking Plant Workers Still Waiting for Vaccine
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas meatpacking workers continue to wait for the COVID-19 vaccine. The union that represents 7,000 workers in Seward and Ford counties wants the state to make them a more immediate priority. Monica Vargas-Huertas is with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “Meatpacking workers have taken one of the hardest hits of the pandemic. They have been in the front lines from Day One,” she said. State officials say Kansas has limited vaccine supplies right now and is prioritizing school workers to get kids back into classrooms. Meatpacking plants have been a top source of coronavirus outbreaks, though state officials say the situation has improved. The Kansas News Service reports that in some counties, postal workers, clergy, college faculty and other groups can get vaccines, too. The union that represents thousands of meatpackers in Seward and Ford counties wants to know when its members will get their turn. Slaughterhouses have been one of the state’s top sources of outbreaks, though state officials say the plants have gotten a lot safer. Still, state officials say meatpacking workers will be a priority when the federal government sends it sufficient vaccine supplies.
Kansas to Focus on COVID-19 Shots for Teachers, School Staff
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas will put a priority on vaccinating teachers and other school staff against COVID-19 so that K-12 students across the state can resume in-person classes as quickly as possible. The Democratic governor’s announcement today (WED) came a week after she told leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature that 60% of the state’s 286 school districts had started inoculating teachers. The state’s public schools have about 72,000 staff members, including 34,000 certified teachers. Kelly said the state will be able to inoculate school staff because it expects the federal government to start next week to ship an additional 25,000 doses of vaccines a week.
Missouri Health Director: No Plan to Move Teachers to Front of Vaccine Line
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s health director says the state has no plans to move teachers higher on the list for COVID-19 vaccinations but will continue focusing on getting shots to older people and those with serious illnesses. Dr. Randall Williams spokes Thursday during Governor Mike Parson’s weekly media briefing. Several states, including neighboring Kansas and Illinois, have already begun vaccinating teachers, deeming school staff as frontline essential workers. But in Missouri, teachers are classified in the state’s Phase 1-B, tier 3. The state is now in Phase 1-B, Tier 2, which includes those 65 and older or with compromised immune systems.
Kansas Records Nearly 289,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,521 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported Wednesday that there have been 288,717 cases of COVID-19, including 4,521 deaths, since the pandemic began. State health officials identified more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, including 115 virus-related deaths, since Monday. Johnson and Sedgwick counties continue to report the most coronavirus cases, with more than 52,000 each. KDHE will provide another update later today (FRI).
Kansas Health Officials: Extreme Weather May Lead to Vaccine Delays
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Kansas health officials warn that nationwide winter storms have delayed the shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the state. Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman says the shipments that were expected early this week are now expected to arrive by Friday. Norman says he doesn’t believe the delays will severely impact the vaccine rollout and thinks the state will be able to catch up. Despite the delay, Norman says he still expects 90,000 doses from the federal government, nearly doubling last week’s allotment.
Bob Dole Diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole has announced that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Dole, who is 97, said in a short statement that he was diagnosed recently and would begin treatment on Monday. He said: “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.” Dole, a Republican, represented Kansas in Congress for almost 36 years, serving twice as majority leader. He resigned from the Senate in 1996 when he became the Republican presidential nominee. He lost to incumbent President Bill Clinton.
Some Kansas Lawmakers Push for Pandemic Tuition Refund
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – College students who lost class time or were forced into online classes because of the pandemic could have some of their tuition refunded under a measure that lawmakers have been debating. A Kansas House committee amended the state’s higher education budget Wednesday to require that colleges, community colleges and technical schools reimburse students for 50% of the tuition paid every day they spent online instead of in the classroom. The amendment would reimburse at 100% for days that students missed class entirely. The state’s Republican-leaning Legislature also has been pushing back against online learning for K-12 schools.
Kansas Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Sports Gambling
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas lawmakers are contemplating two, competing plans to legalize sports gambling. A new House proposal would give the state a larger share of the revenue and allow betting at many more places. A Senate proposal would let casino operators handle sports gambling in-person and through online apps. But the House bill would also allow betting at 1,200 lottery retailers in Kansas. Republican Representative John Barker says betting at places like gas stations would spread the economic benefits around. “While you’re at the convenience store, you may also buy some gas or milk or bread, which helps the local economy,” he said. Neither bill would fix the state’s budget shortfall, though the revenue from the House plan could be higher. But with estimates at less than $10 million a year, the state would not be flush with cash.
University of Kansas Eliminates 2 Degrees, 1 Department
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says it plans to eliminate two undergraduate programs and an entire department in a cost-cutting move. Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer told the Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday 15 undergraduate programs did not meet enrollment requirements. The university plans to discontinue its Humanities department. It also will eliminate degrees in Humanities and Visual Art Education. Six of the remaining underperforming programs will remain, and seven will be merged with other programs. Bichelmeyer said eliminating the Visual Art Education degree will save about $100,000, and ending the Humanities degree will save about $400,000.
Missouri State Patrol: 2 Teens Killed in Cass County Crash
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says two teens have died in a multi-vehicle crash on a rural road in western Missouri. Television station KSHB reports that the crash happened around 5:30 pm Wednesday on Missouri Route 7 in Cass County. The patrol says a car traveling north on the highway crossed the center line and sideswiped a Jeep, causing the car to spin. Investigators say the car was then hit by a southbound semitrailer. Two 18-year-olds in the car, identified as Reyna Oliver and Chloey Schorr, both of Pleasant Hill, died at the scene. Troopers say the drivers of the Jeep and semi were not injured.
Newton Police Sergeant Dies in ATV Crash
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — The Newton Police Department is mourning a sergeant who died in an off-duty ATV crash. Police say Sgt. Levi Minkevitch, of Peabody, died Wednesday in the crash in Harvey County. Police say he tried to jump a ditch into a field but lost control of his ATV, which rolled into the creek. He was pronounced dead at a Newton hospital. The police department said in a statement that Minkevitch, who had been with the department since 2013, was a tremendous officer and a friend to everyone he met.
Sheriff: Kansas Woman Who Wandered Out Likely Died from Cold
DEXTER, Kan. (AP) — A 67-year-old Kansas woman who wandered out of her home during the night was found dead in subzero temperatures. Cowley County Sheriff David Falletti says deputies responding to a call about a missing woman found Linda Patton in front of her Dexter home sometime between 3:30 am and 4 am Tuesday. Falletti said she was wearing only a nightgown and likely died from the cold. He said he did not know how long she had been outside.
Officials: Woman, 2 Children Found Suffering Severe Neglect
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A horrific story of neglect is unfolding in a Kansas City suburb. A 30-year-old Blue Springs man is facing charges after officials say they found his girlfriend and their two children suffering from severe neglect. Blue Springs police say they found a 27-year-old woman in a waste-filled bathtub. The two children were described as extremely malnourished and said they had been locked in a closet. The man told investigators he left the woman in the tub while he worked because she has multiple sclerosis.
Kansas City Police: Two Dead, One Injured in Shooting at Town Home
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two people died and a third was wounded in a shooting at a town home. Police called the scene Wednesday afternoon on the city’s west side found a man and a woman dead and another man injured. Police spokeswoman Donna Drake says a person of interest was taken into custody and no other suspects are being sought. No other information was immediately released.
Police: Man Found Fatally Shot Inside Vehicle in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Homicide detectives in Kansas City are investigating the city’s latest killing after police found a man inside a vehicle who had been fatally shot. Officers were called just after 12 am Wednesday to the Ruskin Heights neighborhood for reports of a shooting and found the man suffering from gunshot wounds. Police say the man died at the scene. The victim’s name was not immediately released. Police were processing the scene for evidence overnight and have not released information on possible suspects. No arrests have been reported in the case.
Bankers Say Economy Improving in Rural Parts of 10 Plains and Western States
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowly improving in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but employment remains below the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began last year. The overall index for the region increased to 53.8 in February from January’s 52. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the number of jobs in the region is down roughly 146,000, or 3.3%, from the level it was at before the pandemic began. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
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