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Kansas

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service file photo

El nuevo coronavirus se está propagando rápidamente por todo el mundo, inclusive por todo Kansas y está provocando una variedad de reacciones. Kansas News Service se está concentrando en acontecimientos cruciales en el estado y está actualizando la situación continuamente aquí.

Esta lista se actualizó por última vez el 7 de abril a las 12.30 p.m.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

During the last two weeks, Johnson County, Kansas, has limited COVID-19 testing to a sliver of patients and at-risk people. That’s left health experts without much solid information about how the disease is spreading.

Now, the county has the money and a plan for advanced community testing and tracking which would include seemingly healthy people, like countries such as Iceland have done. But there’s one thing holding it back: lack of swabs.

Oliver Hall

Using math to interpret music is not new — Pythagoras supposedly discovered the connection between ratios and consonant sounds back in the 6th Century BC.

Carrying on that millennia-old practice is University of Kansas professor of mathematics Purnaprajna Bangere, who uses algebraic geometry to integrate Indian classical music with Western styles like blues and jazz. He has just released a new album.

Daniel Ortiz

With Kansas hospitals anticipating a surge of COVID-19 patients over the next few weeks, 52 fourth-year medical students at the University of Kansas have volunteered to graduate early in order to ease the growing burden on physicians.

“I just read these stories about everyone getting overwhelmed and the need for help,” says Daniel Ortiz, one of the students. He plans to become a psychiatrist, but he’s putting off those plans for now to help combat the pandemic. “I started thinking, ‘What is it that I could do?’ I didn’t want to sit by and do nothing.”

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — It’s hard for Meg Heriford to tell people they’re no longer allowed to walk into her restaurant. She runs the Ladybird Diner in downtown Lawrence, one of the first restaurants in town to close when coronavirus cases spiked in the U.S.

After one crowded lunch service, Heriford said, she could no longer justify the risk to her staff or customers. The restaurant closed March 14, though she and a small number of staff haven’t stopped working. The Ladybird is offering free bagged lunches for anyone who needs them. Heriford buys the food from her usual distributor, prepares it and leaves it on carts in front of the restaurant.

Lexie Huelskamp / Courtesy of Rob Schulte

Rob Schulte, a registered nurse at Research Medical Center, was taking care of a patient with COVID-19 symptoms and wearing a surgical mask but thought he needed the additional protection of an N95 medical mask.

So he asked his supervisor for permission to don one. Her response, according to Schulte: If she let him wear one to treat a patient who had not been confirmed with the disease, everyone at the hospital would be asking for one.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A stay-at-home order for the entire state of Kansas will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 30, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Saturday, making it one of at least 20 states to ask its residents to conduct only essential business. 

The executive order, which will last at least until April 19, is meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. Kansas has surpassed 250 cases of COVID-19 — including two military personnel, one from Fort Riley and one from Fort Leavenworth — and has five deaths. 

Johnson County

Johnson County Commissioners wrestled with their new reality on Thursday, saying they’re getting calls from constituents worried about the coronavirus, wondering about the costs to society and the economy from all the business shutdowns and stay-home orders.

By the end of their weekly meeting, they’d directed public health officials to develop a logistics plan as soon as possible, with costs identified, to ramp up coronavirus testing in the county, using private labs if necessary.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As COVID-19 begins to spread in the Kansas City area, health care workers and hospitals say they are struggling with a lack of resources as they try to prepare for a potentially huge demand for care.

Citing concerns about shortage of both medical equipment and staff, the Missouri State Medical Association this week sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson urging him to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

With screens dark in its theaters, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. announced Wednesday that it will furlough employees at its Leawood headquarters, too. A spokesman estimated the move will affect some 600 employees.

AMC said in a statement that the closing of its 1,000 AMC and Odeon theaters worldwide "leaves AMC with no revenue, and substantial fixed costs that continue." The company said it is not terminating any corporate employees, but were forced to furlough workers in order to preserve cash and get the company through the COVID-19 crisis.

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, some communities will be better equipped to treat the sickest patients — specifically those requiring admission to intensive care units — than others. Not only do ICU capabilities vary from hospital to hospital, but also some parts of the country have far more critical care beds by population than others.

An NPR analysis of data from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice looked at how the nation's 100,000 ICU beds are distributed across the more than 300 markets that make up the country's hospital system.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

A jump in prescriptions being issued for drugs touted as possible treatments for COVID-19 has prompted two Missouri health agencies to issue guidelines concerning their use.

In a joint statement, the Missouri Board of Pharmacy and the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts said concerns had been raised that “this activity may lead to stockpiling of medication, inappropriate use and potential drug shortages for patients with a legitimate need.”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Johnson County, Kansas, has logged its first fatality from the coronavirus, according to officials with the county's health department.

The victim is a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions, said Barbara Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the department. The man was being treated at a Johnson County hospital. Mitchell declined to say which hospital or release further details.

Lynn Horsley / KCUR 89.3

With all Kansas public schools ordered closed to slow the Coronavirus pandemic, some people are questioning why child care centers remain open.

One teacher at a private Johnson County preschool told KCUR that she thought keeping preschools and child care centers open didn’t make sense. She said other teachers also worried about whether those environments are healthy.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — With public and private school buildings closed until August, education officials want students to limit their screen time and spend less than three hours a day learning.

A report released Thursday directs districts to spend five days assessing students’ technology needs, building lesson plans and telling parents what to expect. Districts are required to submit a plan to the state for doing so by early April.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas’ prisons and many of its county jails have suspended in-person visits indefinitely to keep down the risk of coronavirus spreading among inmates. The only exception is lawyers, who will be allowed to visit their clients.

Correctional facilities’ close quarters and lower health care quality means there’s a higher likelihood of COVID-19 virus spreading, though state and county facilities say they are doing what they can to keep things clean — asking for frequent hand washing, wiping down transport vehicles and phones and frequently scrubbing prison dining halls and gathering spaces.

File photo by Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Normally, most people wouldn’t give much thought to a minor cough or slight fever in March. But March 2020 hasn’t been like other years.

In the midst of a global pandemic, signs of illness can seem alarming, but Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist at the University of Kansas Health Systems, says a little knowledge and common sense can help, whatever the illness might turn out to be.

If a cough or fever have you worried, here’s what you need to know.

Daniel Caudill / Kansas News Service

Kansas state officials “strongly recommended” on Sunday that all K-12 schools close for the coming week, and said they’re looking at the potential of finishing the school year online.

The temporary closure will “give educators time to make plans for the safest learning environment possible,” Gov. Laura Kelly said during a news conference, though she acknowledged it’ll be difficult to feed students and provide child care. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Remote rural towns are a good place to be early in a pandemic, according to epidemiologists, but that flips as the people in those towns begin to get sick.

Fredonia, Kansas, and other rural towns tend to be more spread out, lowering the chances that people are in close enough contact to catch the novel coronavirus.

“I always say it’s a hundred miles from anywhere,” quips Cassie Edson, with the Wilson County Health Department. “It’s a hundred miles from Wichita, a hundred miles to Joplin, a hundred miles to Tulsa.”

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A man in his 70s who lived in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County is the first known death from the new coronavirus in Kansas, state officials said Thursday night. The man was not among the state’s official count of cases, which had risen to four earlier in the day. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also has declared a state of emergency, which gives the government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Update: 7:30 p.m.

A 70-year-old man who lived in a long-term care facility in Wyandotte County is the first known death from the new coronavirus in Kansas, state officials said Thursday night.

Kansas also has declared a state of emergency, which gives the government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly appointed lawyer Keynen “KJ” Wall to the Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Wall will fill the seat of former Justice Lawton Nuss, who retired in December after more than nine years leading the court as chief justice. It’s Kelly’s second appointment to the state’s highest court since she took office.

Chris Neal / Shooter Imaging

TOPEKA, Kansas — The state lost 13% of its public defenders over the past year.

That’s actually an improvement. Nearly a fourth of the state’s public defenders quit the year before.

But the turnover of those attorneys still represents a chronic problem for the State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services, the agency that provides lawyers to criminal defendants who can’t afford their own.

Maban Wright makes $66,000 as one of those public defenders, up from the $43,000 she earned at the agency 10 years ago.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Before June 2018, finding cattle that were potentially exposed to diseases was time-consuming and complicated, requiring a patchwork of information from auction houses, feedlots, producers and meatpacking plants.

That’s when Kansas spearheaded U.S. CattleTrace, filling a void when it comes to tracing deadly diseases in live cattle and possibly opening up new global markets for beef. Nine other states have signed onto the pilot program, which has distributed 65,000 ultra high-frequency tags that are scanned just like your online purchases.

WICHITA, Kansas — The good news for Kansas public colleges: 1,000 more Latino students will be enrolled a decade from now, enough to fill the seats left empty by fewer white students.

The bad news? The state predicts fewer students will earn a degree or certification in 2029, judging by Kansas’ poor track record in graduating Latino students.

Segment 1: One proposed bill in Kansas legislature would allow state prisoners expected to die to be released  sooner.

Although the bill would extend Kansas' current 30-day compassionate release statute to 120 days, State Representative Highberger, said that it would only be "a drop in the bucket" for easing the state's prison overcrowding problem. We learned how the stalemate between abortion rights and Medicaid expansion may have resulted in other potential prison reform legislation being overlooked.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service file photo

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas has one of the highest rates of suspended drivers in the country, and the majority of those more than 215,000 licenses are suspended for unpaid fines or court fees — sometimes unrelated to driving. 

Both the Kansas House and Senate approved separate bills last month aimed at getting drivers back on the road. While some advocates say the state could do more, others are concerned any changes will lead to hundreds of thousands less for the court system. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Workers at the Lenexa, Kansas-based global humanitarian relief organization Heart to Heart International are deploying to the Marshall Islands to help prepare residents there for potential coronavirus infections.

The team from Heart to Heart prepared to leave on Saturday after receiving a request from the World Health Organization to assist in the isolated islands in the Pacific, part of the larger island group of Micronesia.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — A couple hundred million years ago, an ocean covering Kansas teemed with prehistoric life. Yet for millennia, Kansas has been a dry, sometimes even dusty, place.

The ocean is long gone, but traces of that long-ago aquatic life lie right below your feet captured for the ages in fossil form. Now, paleontologists from the University of Kansas have an app that they hope will help motivate people to go out and find it.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — From 2000 to 2019, the women’s prison population in Kansas rose by 60%. Over the same time period, the men’s population rose by only 14%.

That outpaces national trends over the past two decades, according to a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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