May 20, 2020 1:49 PM

Kan. rolls back restrictions, but pool won't be open for Memorial Day

Posted May 20, 2020 1:49 PM
Movie theaters like this one in Wichita will be able to reopen on Friday. Hugo Phan / KMUW
Movie theaters like this one in Wichita will be able to reopen on Friday. Hugo Phan / KMUW

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the latest phase-out of her coronavirus-driven statewide shutdown. The changes start on Friday.

Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — Starting Friday, Kansans can gather in slightly larger groups, take in a movie, go to an art museum and bowl a few frames.

But concerts, festivals, summer camps and parades will remain shut down. And you still won’t be able to get a drink at a bar.

At a news conference Tuesday a day before a meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House, Gov. Laura Kelly announced another round of gradually eased restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

"We may be transitioning to Phase 2," the governor told reporters, "but we still have a long ways to go before arriving at anything bordering on normal.”

Kelly already delayed what she’d billed as Phase 2 of her plan to reopen the Kansas economy. It was scheduled to kick in Monday. Instead, she moved to Phase 1.5 at the start of the week, allowing gyms, salons and tattoo parlors to open their doors — as long as they followed social distancing guidelines and scheduled appointments.

Kansas is still seeing coronavirus hot spots across the state, like meatpacking counties in southwestern Kansas and a new cluster in Topeka related to a nearby lake. But her next round of loosened rules — coming just before the Memorial Day weekend — follow a weekend where Kansas recorded only one death and a handful of new hospitalizations.

So far, the state has recorded more than 8,000 cases, some 740 hospitalizations and more than 170 deaths from COVID-19.

About a week ago, Kelly instituted a modified version of her reopening plans, despite record unemployment claims and scores of businesses warning the shutdown could doom them.

Even in the latest phase that starts Friday, both indoor and outdoor entertainment venues built for more than 2,000 people can’t open. Self-service food or beverage operations remain forbidden.

Bars, nightclubs and swimming pools must stay closed.

But the lid on gatherings increases to 15 people. State-owned casinos can open (the governor doesn’t have authority over tribal casinos, though many have closed), but they have to run their operations plans by state health officials.

Community centers can open if they limit the number of people who can come in. Recreational sports leagues get a go-ahead, but only if they meet in small groups and players keep their distance from each other. Small graduation ceremonies are OK, increasing the number from 10 to 15 people at a time.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

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May 20, 2020 1:49 PM
Police: Kan. felon jailed for shooting that left man in critical condition
Dickey photo Shawnee County. He has previous convictions for theft, burglary and criminal threat, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections

SHAWNEE COUNTY  – Law enforcement authorities are investigating a Wednesday morning shooting in Topeka and have made an arrest.

Just after 2:00 am, the Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center received a call of a possible shooting in the 100 block of NE Coachlight Drive, according to Lt. Matt Danielson.

Officers arrived on scene and located a victim later identified as 47-year-old Royal T. St. Clair of Topeka  in a home that had been shot. Medical personnel arrived and transported him to a local hospital with life threatening injuries.

Police on the scene of the shooting investigation early Wednesday photo courtesy WIBW TV

On Wednesday afternoon, police took a person of interest in the shooting investigation  into custody in the 400 block of SE Rice Road.

After questioning, police arrested  24 year-old Austin J. Dickey on requested charges of  aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon. St. Clair remains in critical but stable condition at an area hospital, according to police spokesperson Gretchen Koenen.

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SHAWNEE COUNTY  – Law enforcement authorities are investigating a Wednesday morning shooting in Topeka.

Just after 2:00 am, the Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center received a call of a possible shooting in the 100 block of NE Coachlight Drive, according to Lt. Matt Danielson.

Officers arrived on scene and located a victim in a home that had been shot. Medical personnel arrived and transported that victim to a local hospital with life threatening injuries.

Police released no additional details including the victim's name.