Panel of Scientists Warns Against Use of Bogus “Air Cleaner” Machines
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) — Scientists want schools in Kansas to stay away from potentially harmful air cleaner machines and turn them off if they’re already in use. The electronic air cleaners go by a lot of names such as “bipolar ionizers,” “electronic air cleaners,” or a variety of other names. The group of scientists says vendors used unproven claims of ridding indoor air of COVID-19 to market the devices to schools. But researchers say they have found no evidence that the machines actually work. Marcel Harmon is a building scientist based in Lawrence who is warning schools not to rely on the machines. “Just don’t do it at this point,” Harmon says. “And if you have it already installed in your building, we would suggest that you consider turning it off.” Fourteen engineers and chemists signed an open letter warning that some brands of the “air cleaning” devices even discharge dangerous chemicals into the air such as ozone and formaldehyde.
Kansas Health Officials Warn of Unhealthy Air as Ranchers Burn Grassland
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Air pollutants are at unhealthy levels in parts of Kansas, while ranchers burn grassland in the Flint Hills. The burning is spreading dangerously smoky air across southern Kansas and into Oklahoma. Kansas health officials have issued a warning against strenuous outdoor exercise. They advise people with lung or heart problems to remain indoors, drink plenty of water and run an air conditioner to filter the air. Unhealthy air could be a problem as far west as Liberal, in southwest Kansas, while the smoke keeps moving. Ranchers burn land each year to eradicate invasive plants and produce more nutrient-rich grass for cattle.
Kansas Senator Marshall Votes No on Advancing “Hate Crimes” Legislation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican Sentor Republican Roger Marshall is among a handful of conservative U.S. senators who opposed moving forward with a Democratic-sponsored measure for confronting hate crimes against Asian Americans. Marshall’s office said today (THUR) that an existing federal hate crimes law already prohibits intentionally injuring or trying to injure others based on their race, color, religion or national origin. The Senate voted 92-6 on Wednesday to have a debate on the proposed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Republican Senator Josh Hawley, of Missouri, also voted against moving ahead with the debate. Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.
More than 1 Million Get at Least 1 Vaccine Dose in Kansas
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has crossed the threshold of vaccinating more than 1 million people as a third highly contagious variant is detected in the state. That means 35% of the state’s 2.9 million residents have received at least one shot, according to state data released Wednesday. The state hit the mark one day after the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced that a particularly contagious variant of COVID-19 that is sweeping through Brazil has been detected for the first time in Kansas. The agency said it is investigating how someone in Sedgwick County became infected with the P.1 variant and whether others may have been exposed.
Brazilian Coronavirus Variant Discovered in Sedgwick County
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – An emerging coronavirus strain known as the Brazilian variant has been identified in an individual in Sedgwick County. State health officials are conducting an investigation to determine how the person became infected with the P.1 variant and if others may have been exposed. The variant was originally identified in four travelers from Brazil and was detected in the U.S. at the end of last year. It has so far and has been found in 31 U.S. states and territories. Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says the variant strain can reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines but he says, vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness and death. “We continue to encourage people to take the appropriate precautions” Norman says. “This includes wearing a mask that fits snuggly around the nose and face and has multiple layers of fabric”. Norman says Kansans should also continue to practice physical distancing, good hygiene and staying home if sick.
Kansas Suspends Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — The top health official in Kansas says the state is suspending distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines as federal health officials investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, predicted the pause won’t have a “big impact” on the state’s overall rate of providing vaccine shots. That’s because less than 4% of the shots administered in Kansas have been from Johnson & Johnson, according to KDHE data.
Kansas COVID-19 Case Total Passes 305,000, Including 4,944 Deaths, Since Pandemic Began
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports that there have been 305,320 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 4,944 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. That’s an increase of 601 cases and 14 deaths since Monday. Another update of case statistics is expected Friday afternoon.
Kansas College Paying Staff $250 to Get COVID-19 Vaccines
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The largest community college in Kansas is paying staff members to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and one of the county’s largest public school districts is making in-home testing kits available to students who want them. KMBC-TV reports that Johnson County Community College is paying employees $250 to get their inoculations in hopes of bringing more students back to campus in the fall. Meanwhile, KCTV reports that the 22,400-student Blue Valley school district in Johnson County began a voluntary COVID-19 testing program this week that sends rapid-testing kits home with students who sign up for them. State data showed that Kansas averaged 213 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday.
Kansas City Man Testifies He Didn’t Kill 2 Cass County Women
HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) – A Kansas City, Missouri, man on trial for two counts of first-degree murder has testified that he did not kill the two women but suggested that his dead half-brother did. Kylr Yust took the stand in his own defense Wednesday in connection with the deaths of 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky and 21-year-old Jessica Runions nearly ten years apart. A mushroom hunter found the remains of the two young women in a Cass County, Missouri, farm field in 2017. Kopetsky had filed a protection order against Yust in April 2007, a month before she was last seen. Witnesses testified that Yust left a party with Runions just before she disappeared in September 2016. Yust testified that he did not kill the women and suggested that his half-brother, who died by suicide in 2018, was involved in their deaths. The jury of 10 women and two men from St. Charles County in eastern Missouri, deliberated for about four hours last week and are expected to continue their deliberations this (THUR) morning.
Kansas Fight Shows How Election ‘Reforms’ May Favor One Side
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A political fight in Kansas illustrates how proposals on voting laws billed as reform or anti-fraud measures can be a help to a specific party or policy priority. The Republican-controlled Legislature has approved a measure that would limit people to picking up and delivering 10 absentee ballots for voters. GOP lawmakers who back the bill argue that they’re protecting the integrity of elections. They’ve been joined in supporting the measure by anti-abortion groups worried about abortion-rights supporters using that tactic to help defeat an anti-abortion initiative on the August 2022 primary ballot. Democrats see the bill as an attack on get-out-the-vote efforts that some of them have used.
Big-Business Pushes Back Against Certain Voting Measures
UNDATED (AP) – A pushback against new voting bills and laws in numerous states is gaining momentum. Dozens of nation’s largest corporations and business leaders have signed a new statement objecting to “any discriminatory legislation.” Signatories to the letter published Wednesday in The New York Times and The Washington Post include Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Google and Best Buy. Also signing were hundreds of business and civic leaders, such as Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg. More than 350 different voting bills are under consideration in dozens of states. On Tuesday, Arkansas was among the latest to approve changes to its election laws, including restrictions on outside polling places and on absentee ballots.
Inmate Battling Terminal Cancer Freed from Kansas Prison
LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A 47-year-old man with terminal cancer was freed from a Kansas prison after officials agreed his medical condition is so severe he is not a danger to public safety. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says Christopher McIntyre was released Monday from the Lansing Correctional Facility in Leavenworth County where he was serving time for aggravated burglary. The Kansas City Star reports that McIntyre is among 105 ACLU clients who requested clemency from Governor Laura Kelly. McIntyre was originally scheduled to be released in 2024. His attorneys have said he could die before then. McIntyre said in his clemency application that he has cancer masses in numerous parts of his body.
Kansas Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested on Domestic Violence Counts
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy has been arrested on suspicion of several counts in a domestic violence case. Wichita police say Tyler Brooks was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of aggravated domestic violence battery, domestic battery, criminal threat and criminal damage to property. A news release from the sheriff’s office said the charges stemmed from an incident involving a live-in intimate partner of the deputy’s. Officials say Brooks has been employed by the sheriff’s office for eight years. He has been suspended without pay.
Ex-Wichita Officer Sentenced for Abusing Minors for Years
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita police officer and school employee was sentenced to five years in prison for molesting young boys for more than a decade. A judge ruled this week that 58-year-old Alex Robinson will begin serving his sentence after he is paroled in Colorado, where he was also convicted of sex crimes against a young boy. In Kansas, Robinson was accused of molesting four boys, aged 11 to 14, in the Wichita area between 2000 and 2012. The abuse case in Colorado happened in the 1990s. After serving most of his sentence in Colorado, Robinson was transferred back to Kansas last year.
Bombardier Aviation Announces Learjet Layoffs
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Bombardier has formally notified the state of Kansas it plans to lay off more than 200 people at its Learjet facility in Wichita. The letter to the Department of Commerce says the layoffs will begin in June and continue for the next year. The move was expected after Bombardier announced in February it would stop building the iconic Learjet business jet. Learjet currently employs about 1,200 people at its plant in west Wichita. The plant will continue to serve as Bombardier’s primary flight-test center and as a service center.
Kansas City Approves Naming Street for Martin Luther King
KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — After years of debate, Kansas City, Missouri will have a street named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The city’s parks and recreation board has approved a proposal to rename a 5-mile route along thoroughfares that run east to west after the civil rights icon. City officials and civil rights activists celebrated the decision and vowed that the move was just the first step in larger plans to honor King, and to help foster racial unity in the city. This week’s vote comes after a 2019 election in which voters chose to remove King’s name from another well-known boulevard in the city. The new plan drew little opposition.
School Drop-off-Gun Threat in KCK
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Anyone who has ever negotiated the line of vehicles at a school drop-off zone knows how frustrating the daily process can be. But police say one mom took matters too far when she used a gun to threaten another mother in a Kansas City, Kansas, school drop-off line. Television station KSHB-TV reports the incident happened Tuesday morning at Junction Elementary School. Police say a mother was dropping off her children in the line when another car sped around her. Police say the mother got out of her car and confronted the other driver, who was also dropping off students. Police say the other woman then displayed a handgun and made threatening statements. Officers arrested the woman a short time later.
Missouri House Advances Bill for Guns on Buses, in Churches
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are advancing a sweeping firearms bill that would allow concealed guns on public transportation and in churches. The Republican-led House gave initial approval to the bill in a voice vote. Currently, people need permission to bring firearms into places of religious worship. The bill would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns in churches, synagogues and mosques regardless. Another provision in the bill would ensure that gun stores are considered essential businesses. That means state and cities couldn’t order them closed during emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
NWSL Imposes Additional 1-Game Suspension for Kansas City’s Edmonds
CHICAGO (AP) — The National Women’s Soccer League has imposed an additional one-game suspension for Kansas City’s Kristen Edmonds following her actions in a game against the Portland Thorns. Edmonds was issued a red card and sent off the field after a scuffle with Portland’s Morgan Weaver in the final moments of the Thorns’ 2-1 victory. As a result of the red card, she was fined and suspended a game. The NWSL added the second game after a disciplinary review.
KPR’s daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR’s weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays.