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Alex Smith / KCUR

After weeks of anxiety and terrifying headlines about COVID-19, newly updated projections seem to offer signs of hope.

A tool created by researchers at the University of Washington shows that the short-term impact of the disease may be less than that of the seasonal flu. However, experts warn about reading too much into the projections.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

A cluster of 37 COVID-19 cases that caused four deaths at a Kansas City, Kansas, rehabilitation facility was brought on by “a confluence of bad circumstances,” Wyandotte County’s chief medical officer said Tuesday.

Jennifer Lapka / Rightfully Sewn

Some local businesses that recently began producing facemasks for hospitals and other large-volume customers are now beginning to sell masks to the general public.

In a reversal from its previous position, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week advised people to wear a cloth or fabric mask while in public.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 file photo

One Clay County commissioner has the authority to approve spending decisions on a controversial $20 million new county annex without public discussion. 

On Monday, the Clay County commission, on a two to one vote, gave that power to Commissioner Gene Owen. The move comes after Owen signed off on two contracts totaling more than $1.3 million in March for engineering and architectural services without a public vote or discussion. Citizens have long complained about a lack of transparency in the county, which helped launch a state audit in late 2018.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation, a health care facility in Kansas City, Kansas, reported an increase in a COVID-19 outbreak on Monday, with four deaths and 37 people testing positive for the virus.

Of those testing positive, 33 are residents and four are staff workers, said Janell Friesen, Unified Government Public Health Department spokeswoman. It’s a significant rise since Friday, when officials reported 19 cases.

Christopher Smith / Kaiser Health News

Rural hospitals face “catastrophic cash shortages” brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and need congressional action to save them, according to a Leawood, Kansas, advocacy group that represents hundreds of rural hospitals.

In a letter Monday addressed to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, the National Rural Health Association asks that 20% of the $100 billion in funding for hospitals in the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill passed by Congress last month, be set aside for rural providers.  

Orlin Wagner / AP Photo

Just when did the University of Kansas decide to fire David Beaty as head football coach?

That question is at the heart of two depositions unsealed this week in the bitter federal court battle between Beaty and KU Athletics.

In a deposition taken in February, KU Athletics Director Jeff Long was unequivocal about when he decided to fire Beaty.

"Shortly before November 4th," he told Beaty's lawyer.

That was the day in 2018 after KU lost at home to Iowa State 27-3 with just 15,543 people in the stands, fewer than see most Jayhawk basketball games. 

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.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In a major reversal after an outcry from workers, Children’s Mercy Hospital announced Wednesday that it will allow all of its employees to continuously wear face masks during shifts for protection from the coronavirus.

In addition, the hospital said it will begin screening workers on Thursday, according to an email obtained by KCUR. As of March 31, the hospital had tested 255 employees, three of whom were positive for the virus, Children’s Mercy announced on its website.

Sprint's Long-Sought Merger With T-Mobile Is Official

Apr 1, 2020
File photo by Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The merger of Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc., a start-and-stop combination years in the process, is official. With it, the Kansas City area’s largest public company no longer is based here.

On Wednesday, the wireless carriers announced the closing of their merger, creating New T-Mobile. The combination introduces a company that officials hope has the size and spectrum to better compete with industry giants AT&T and Verizon and push forward the rollout of 5G service.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

One day after the Jackson County Health Department told Bass Pro Shops to close its Independence store because it is a nonessential business, officials now say "the situation has changed."

Kayla Parker, a spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email Tuesday that officials are now "working with" Bass Pro Shops. She did not provide further information.

The store remained open Tuesday, with workers limiting customers inside the building to 50 at a time. There was no line outside the store. Inside, employees seemed to outnumber customers. 

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Former Kansas City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Alissia Canady has filed to run for Missouri Lieutenant Governor.

Canady served one term representing the city’s 5th district before announcing her mayoral bid in 2018.

Jodi Fortino / KCUR 89.3

Although it was set to close its retail stores on Friday evening because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nebraska Furniture Mart’s sprawling distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas, will remain open for business.

The 650,000-square-foot warehouse fulfills online and telephone orders and employs approximately 400 people who work in three shifts, with 100 to 150 working at any given time.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has barred medical staff from wearing face masks continuously through shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic and has threatened disciplinary action if staff defy the order.

In an internal email sent March 19 and obtained by KCUR, hospital leaders cited guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say face masks should solely be used by people who show symptoms of the coronavirus.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The Kansas City Council passed a $1.7 billion budget Thursday even though the city does not yet know the full extent of the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the city’s revenues.

“We are in a most serious time,” Councilwoman Teresa Loar said during Thursday’s four-hour debate. “We should just pass a budget, see where we’re at, and then we will take care of things as we go.”

Bigstock

Amid concerns that prisoners face a heightened risk of exposure to the coronavirus, a public interest law firm wants Missouri to release prisoners whose parole has been revoked — in many cases on technicalities.

In an emergency motion filed Wednesday, the Chicago-based MacArthur Justice Center says that prisons and jails are notoriously unsanitary and are not isolated environments, with attorneys, correctional officers, medical personnel and visitors entering and leaving on a daily basis.

Google Maps

Although only “essential” businesses are supposed to remain open under stay-at-home orders now in effect in the Kansas City area, some businesses appear to have adopted a loose definition of the term.

The 700,000-square-foot Guitar Center distribution center in the Northland is one of them. The sprawling facility employs hundreds of people to fulfill online orders for musical instruments and musical gear.

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.”

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Clay County violated a Missouri law on government transparency when it sought to charge The Kansas City Star more than $4,000 for records, according to a judge’s ruling. 

The case, the latest legal loss for the county, stems from a February 2019 records request from a Kansas City Star reporter who sought invoices from the county’s outside law firm, Spencer Fane. 

Joe Hatley, a Spencer Fane partner, said the invoices might contain attorney-client privileged work so the Star would have to pay about $4,200 for an attorney to review the 45 pages. 

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.

KU Hospital

As the coronavirus continues its relentless spread, hospitals are making tough decisions about postponing or canceling elective procedures.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended that providers consider a range of factors in determining whether to postpone surgery or other procedures. They include patient risk, urgency of the procedure, bed availability, staffing and the availability of personal protective equipment.

Courtesy photo

Brandy Granados felt like she was just getting back on her feet. After spending the summer without a home, she was working with a temp agency at UPS and living in an apartment with her 8-year-old son, Jude, and a roommate. 

Then two weeks ago, she was told by UPS “her assignment had ended.” And with schools closed due to the coronavirus, she’s focusing much of her energy on Jude, who Brandy says, has trouble concentrating and was getting specialized instruction at school.

Unable to work, Granados doesn’t know how she’ll pay her rent in April.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Kansas City and St. Louis business and health care leaders have issued an urgent, blunt warning to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson: Immediately order uniform social distancing across the state to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As federal and state courts cancel in-person proceedings amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, one court remains open for business, albeit not entirely as usual.

The immigration court in Kansas City, the only such court in Missouri, is continuing to hold hearings for detained immigrants, although it’s no longer conducting hearings for people not in custody.

But the confined space of its three courtrooms, located in an office building in Crown Center, don’t realistically allow for the “social distancing” recommended by public health officials.

The state of Missouri has its first confirmed death from COVID-19, the virus caused by the new coronavirus.

Gov. Mike Parson confirmed the death Wednesday at a brief press conference at the Capitol. The patient is from Boone County, and the infection was related to travel, but no other information was provided.

Screenshot - Kansas City, Missouri

A Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday advanced a $1.7 billion city budget in a chaotic, difficult-to-follow meeting in which most of the committee was not physically present.

“Obviously this is unusual times, so we’re trying to continue the business of the people, but yet do it in a way that’s safe for all of us,” councilwoman Katheryn Shields said to begin the meeting.

Courtesy - Kelly's Westport Inn

Officials across the Kansas City area on Monday called on all bars and restaurants to shut down dine-in service. In a sweeping e-mail announcement, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said restaurants and taverns should serve customers only through drive-thru, pickup, or delivery.

He also prohibited any gathering or event with more than 10 people. Officials in Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte counties joined in the push to limit gatherings where the virus could spread.

Viracor Eurofins

A clinical diagnostics lab in Lee’s Summit has developed a test for the novel coronavirus and says it's more than 99% accurate.

Viracor Eurofins, which was founded in 1983, says it's capable of performing more than 1,000 tests per day and returning results the same day. The test will allow clinicians to expand testing to patients who currently don't meet the eligibility criteria for public laboratory testing established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Update:  The Springfield Police Department said Christopher Walsh is a Springfield native who graduated from Glendale High School before attending Ozarks Technical Community College.  He served with the Springfield Police Dept. since 2016 and was assigned as a patrol officer after graduating with the 68th Academy.  He’s also an Army veteran who was active in the U.S. Army Reserves for 10 years.  He’s survived by a wife and daughter. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Church services were live-streamed, libraries and other gathering places emptied out and people huddled at home on Sunday, as fears of the coronavirus pandemic placed further limits on public life in Kansas City.

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