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KCTV5 News Update: July 21, 2021

KCTV5 News Update: July 21, 2021

Police say a man has died in an overnight shooting in a southeastern Kansas City neighborhood. Police say in a news release that the shooting occurred around 2 a.m. Wednesday near Ruskin Way Park.

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Missouri woman urges people to get COVID-19 vaccines after deaths of 2 unvaccinated family members

Missouri woman urges people to get COVID-19 vaccines after deaths of 2 unvaccinated family members

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KOMU/CNN) – A Missouri woman is encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine after she lost two family members who chose not to get vaccinated.

Marlene Thomas’ youngest sister and her brother’s wife died of the coronavirus. The Columbia resident has two family members in serious condition and at least six are quarantining.

"None of them had gotten vaccinated," she said.

Thomas said she tried months ago to encourage her sister to get the vaccine.

"She didn't know what the long-term effects of the vaccine would be. Well, COVID was her long term and she's gone, and I may lose her daughter and husband,” said Thomas.

Thomas said her niece was giving her updates, until one day she didn’t pick up. "It was on a Friday when I called her,” recalled Thomas. "Her daughter and husband and all of their children at home, got it."

Thomas said the most recent update on the condition of her niece and husband wasn’t good. “He was not getting along; he was very bad Saturday and they had called family in.”

Despite the tragedy, Thomas knows one thing is important. She is urging people to take the pandemic and vaccinations seriously because if they don’t “it could mean death.”

Thomas said she was vaccinated before any of this happened. "I'd already heard how many people were dying from COVID and I didn't want to die.”

Thomas said the older children are now taking care of the younger ones while their parents are fighting the virus in hospitals.

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Man sentenced in fatal shooting of Erin Langhofer at First Friday event in 2019

JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- A 20-year-old Kansas City man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in connection with the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Erin Langhofer as she stood near food trucks at a First Friday event in 2019.

According to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, Deon'te Copkney was sentenced to 18 years in prison for second-degree murder and 3 years in prison for armed criminal action. Those sentences were set to run concurrently.

Copkney will get credit for time served, according to the prosecutor's office. He has been in jail since Aug. 2, 2019.

Copkney had pleaded guilty to the charges in May of this year.

According to court records, the fatal shooting happened around 10 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2019. At that time, officers with the Kansas City Police Department responded to a call of shots fired in the area of E. 18th Street and Main Street.

There, they found the victim later identified as Erin Langhofer. She had been near the food trucks in the area and was not involved in any altercation prior to the gunfire.

Officers then began running after three males who were fleeing the scene. One of those males was ordered to stop and dropped a gun before lying on the ground. He identified himself as Deon'te Copkney.

The 9mm gun he dropped was later confirmed to have fired the 9mm shell casings found near the scene of the shooting.

Copkney told detectives that he was the only one who'd fired shots, which happened after he and others were involved in a physical altercation near the food trucks.

On Tuesday, family members and friends of Langhofer filled a Jackson County courtroom. Langhofer’s mother Marcy Langhofer described the sentencing as “fair.” Relatives and friends told the judge the murder left a hole in their hearts that will never be healed.

Their lives changed when Erin Langhofer’s life was taken. “I feel like it was not only justice for Erin but the citizens of Kansas City who were kind of terrorized at this event,” Marcy Langhofer said. “It has had a long-lasting repercussion not only for our friends and family but the greater community as well.”

The judge received 72 victim impact statements that described the ripple effects of the shooting on the lives of those who knew Langhofer. One person told the judge, “Thousands of clients including women, men and children and future social workers will not benefit from her gifts of patience, empathy and kindness.”

Family members say helping others had always been not just Langhofer’s gift but her passion. “Today was our chance to tell our story and to tell Erin’s story and I’m glad we got to do that,” Langhofer’s sister Kathryn Langhofer said.

Before her death, Langhofer worked as a counselor and therapist at the Rose Brooks Center. Her mother, Marcy Langhofer says they will focus on holding onto their memories. “To get back to trying to remember and appreciate our daughter and sister and all that she was and is in our lives,” Marcy Langhofer said.

“Nobody wins,” Langhofer’s father Tom Langhofer said. “Nobody is wining in this deal. Everybody is losing.”

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Pedestrian hit and killed at I-435 and Front Street in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A pedestrian was hit and killed early Tuesday morning in Kansas City, MO, according to police.

Officers and emergency crews responded before 1 a.m. to an area near Interstate 435 and Front Street in response to a pedestrian crash. Police said one person died in a crash at that location.

Crews blocked off the entrance and exit ramps to I-435 from Front Street and also the northbound lanes of I-435.

Police said a red Mercedes had been traveling north on I-435, north of Front Street, when it struck a pedestrian who had been walking in one of the lanes of traffic while wearing dark clothing. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the pedestrian killed in this incident was identified as 56-year-old Ronald A. Jackson from KCMO.

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Annette Bloch, who donated millions to cancer research in Kansas City, dies at 94

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) --- Annette Bloch, who donated millions to cancer research in the Kansas City metro area, has died at the age of 94.

A <a href="https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/kansascity/name/annette-bloch-obituary?id=6095692" target="_blank">remembrance page states</a> she passed away peacefully in her home and was surrounded by family.

She was born in Philadelphia and moved to Kansas City after she married Richard Bloch. Together with Henry Bloch, they founded H&amp;R Block.

She donated over $30 million to the University of Kansas Health System and over $2 million to Truman Medical Center to help establish a expanded cancer treatment center.

The remembrance said at 94 years old, she was "working out 5 days a week, growing ever younger and more vital until cancer caught up with her."

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40 years later: What was learned from the Hyatt Regency collapse in Kansas City

On a balmy Missouri evening in 1981, this was one of the hottest places to be.

More than 1,500 revelers had gathered on the first floor of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency for a popular tea dance party hosted by the swanky 1-year-old hotel.

As musicians performed big band hits, couples swing-danced under long, novel skywalks spanning the second and fourth floors that seemed to float in the sky, historians have recalled.

Then, as the orchestra was said to be playing <a href="https://kchistory.org/week-kansas-city-history/hotel-horror" target="_blank">Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll,"</a> the fourth-floor skywalk collapsed onto the second-floor skywalk directly beneath it. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/15/us/bridge-collapse-history-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">Both walkways then crashed</a> onto the ground floor, killing 114 people and injuring more than 200 others.

The catastrophe on July 17, 1981, is one of the deadliest structural collapses in US history. That same year, the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, was completed -- only to meet a similar, disastrous fate this June, when it partially collapsed killing at least 97 people.

Forty years after the Kansas City disaster, the memories are still vivid. And the lessons learned from it are as relevant as ever -- not just for engineers and architects but for everyone, several people close to the tragedy told CNN.

Here's what they want Americans to remember:

Don't rush to judgment, and don't ignore the details

Bill Quatman was a 23-year-old architect just starting his career in Kansas City. He wasn't involved in the design of the skywalks, but he marveled at the way they seemed to float in the air -- an unusual sight at the time, he said.

He and his wife had dined at the hotel a week before the collapse and had noticed another spectacle:

"A few thousand people were enjoying themselves at a tea dance, listening to big band music from an orchestra, dancing and laughing to tunes of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington," Quatman said.

"We saw this tea dance going on (and thought), 'That looks like fun; we should come back sometime.'"

But on the evening of July 17, they had other plans. That night -- after the skywalks fell -- a friend told Quatman about the tragedy but mistakenly said the hotel's roof had fallen in.

"The first 48 hours, nobody really knew the cause, but there was speculation -- just like there is today with the Surfside condos," Quatman said. "All sorts of theories floating around, and nobody knows ... I think one of the similarities is the rush to judgment."

The cause of the Surfside collapse <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/14/us/florida-condo-collapse-building-inspections-invs/index.html" target="_blank">is still under investigation</a>.

One popular myth following the Kansas City disaster was that the song playing at the time of the collapse -- Ellington's "Satin Doll" -- somehow contributed to the skywalks falling, he said.

The theory was "harmonic vibrations from the band music caused the steel to oscillate," Quatman said. But experts and courts later determined there were fatal engineering design errors.

The original design had called for the second-floor and fourth-floor skywalks to both be supported with a set of steel hanger rods connected to the ceiling. But a design change was made over the phone between the steel fabricator and the structural engineer, Quatman said.

"They hung the second-floor bridge from the fourth-floor bridge and doubled the load on that connection, which was ultimately a fatal design change," he said.

The resulting design was "capable of withstanding only an estimated 30 percent of the mandated minimum," according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. A series of <a href="https://www.asce.org/question-of-ethics-articles/jan-2007/" target="_blank">miscommunications and failures to double-check calculations and plans</a> led to the collapse.

In the decades since, Quatman has spent much of his career as both an architect and lawyer speaking to engineering and architecture students to help prevent such catastrophic mistakes in the future.

"I always end my talks by saying you cannot ignore the small details," Quatman said. "The (connection) that failed was about 8 inches wide."

Don't take the 'simple things' for granted

Brent Wright was just 17 years old when he lost his mother and stepfather. Since then, every anniversary of the collapse has been challenging.

"Even though it's been 40 years, those memories come flooding back," said Wright, now 57. "It's emotional. All these years later, I still miss my mother and stepfather."

Karen and Gene Jeter had gotten married just 16 days before the skywalks collapsed. The newlyweds spent their final moments doing what Karen loved -- dancing.

It was a skill she insisted her son learn -- for the sake of his future dating life.

"When I was growing up, my mom said, 'Look, you need to learn how to dance. All the girls will love it if you actually know how to dance.' So she taught me how to dance," Wright said.

Footage of the Hyatt Regency's dance party showed his mother and stepfather having a glorious time, Wright said. The event was so popular, his father and future stepmother were also there.

But Wright didn't know that -- or about the tragedy that would change his life -- until the following day. On the night of the collapse, he was working the loading dock at a Macy's store to earn money for college.

"I had the radio turned on on the dock and heard something come over the radio about some accident. It wasn't clear what the details were," Wright recalled.

"I called my mom because I was going to ask her about it. Nobody answered."

Wright, who lived with his father at the time, came home that night and went right back to work early the next morning. Then his dad called him and told him to come home immediately.

"My dad just looked at us and said, 'I don't know any way to tell you this, but your mom and Gene were killed at the Hyatt collapse,'" Wright said. "It was absolutely awful."

The Jeters never got to see Wright and his younger sister Shelly become adults and have children of their own.

"They've missed so many things through the years," Wright said. "They missed me going to college, graduating from college, graduating from law school, getting married, having children. All those things, all those milestones in our lives. It's difficult, even 40 years later."

Over the years, he's learned to cope with grief -- a process he knows families of the Surfside victims are just beginning.

"You try not to forget the past but also try not to let all the grief or the difficulties from the past hold you back from going forward," he said. "I know my mom wanted that. She would have said, 'Go ahead and live your life and be happy. But don't forget me.' So we don't."

To ensure his mother, stepfather and 112 other victims are never forgotten, Wright became president of the Skywalk Memorial Foundation. It led efforts to create the Skywalk Memorial, which features a modern design <a href="https://kcparks.org/places/skywalk-memorial-plaza/" target="_blank">evoking two people dancing</a>, along with the names of those lost. It also honors the hundreds injured and the rescuers.

"Even all these years later, none of (the rescuers) have ever been able to forget what they saw, what they did, which was selfless," Wright said.

This anniversary, Wright is also remembering the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/24/us/miami-building-collapse-victims-missing/index.html" target="_blank">dozens of lives lost in the collapse</a> at the Surfside condo building.

"All those people in Florida, my heart breaks for them. I want them to know that there are people everywhere who are thinking about them, praying for them," he said.

"I hope that they get help from mental health professionals because it's not something you can do on your own."

And there's a lesson everyone can take away from such tragedies.

"We all have to remember not to take those day-to-day, simple things (like) family for granted. You just don't know when you may never have another chance to see them again," he said.

"It's a good reminder, and it's something I've tried to do as I live my life is to try not to take those things for granted."

The mental health needs of first responders are crucial

Vince Ortega, then 26, was the first Kansas City police officer dispatched to the scene.

On the police radio, "The way it came out was (an) elderly lady had fallen off the escalator," said Ortega, now 66.

More calls quickly followed, but nothing prepared him for what he saw when he arrived at the hotel.

"People were running out, bleeding from the head," he said.

"When I went in, I saw a dead body right away. The rubble had flattened the body out. I could tell it was a woman because she had a dress on."

Ortega had no idea what had collapsed. So fearing another imminent collapse, he tried to rush as many injured survivors as he could outside to safety.

"You're just helpless because you're bringing out just a few at a time, and there's a whole lobby full of people," he said.

"Then water started coming out of the walls."

The collapse of the skywalks broke the sprinkler system, flooding the floor with several inches of water, Ortega said.

No amount of academy training can fully prepare a first responder for such a mass tragedy, he said.

"There was this one gentleman who was underneath the rubble ... 'I need help! I need help!' And he had his arm sticking out from the rubble," Ortega said.

"So my (officer) friend grabbed his hand and started to pull him out, and his arm just came off. And my friend just dropped it and walked out the door. He actually never came back -- he never returned to the police department."

Such overwhelming trauma highlights the need for first responders to have adequate mental health support, Ortega said.

"Back then they didn't really offer the mental health assistance" needed, he said.

That changed after other officers who had responded to the collapse started leaving the force.

"They did it after people started not showing up for work. And they figured out nobody wanted to admit they got affected by it."

Ortega said he's lucky to come from a family of first responders -- including two firefighter brothers and a nurse mother -- who helped him cope with the trauma.

But some emergency workers can be haunted by feelings of inadequacy despite their most valiant efforts.

"You always wish you could have done a little more," Ortega said.

He now thinks about the first responders in Surfside, who have been digging through tons of rubble for weeks trying to find those still missing from the condo collapse. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/12/us/surfside-collapse-rescue-nichole-notte-interview/index.html" target="_blank">Digging through the wreckage, one Florida rescuer said,</a> has also meant "emotionally digging for more strength to continue."

Ortega hopes the Surfside teams can benefit from the lessons learned 40 years ago in Kansas City.

"Once it's done, please seek counseling," Ortega said. "Over the years, I've seen people leave the job with mental health issues because of the overwhelming tragedy that they see over time."

"Everybody is vulnerable," he said. "I was just fortunate."

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Kansas City family mourns death of triple homicide victims

Kansas City family mourns death of triple homicide victims

JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) A Kansas City family is in mourning after police say they found three people within the same family dead inside their home.

“Unbelievable,” says Monica Ming.

The only word, that came to her mind after learning the three deceased were all her cousins.

“You come over here, there’s nobody here, nobody will ever be here again, there are cars out here that belong to them this is crazy,” says Ming.

Police say they showed up to a home on the corner of Woodland and 33rd just after 9 PM last night for a welfare check.

This came after a family member expressed concern after not hearing from them.

Officials haven’t mentioned how they were killed but are investigating it as three homicides.

Ming has identified the three victims as Shirley Ransom, and her two kids Tyla and Jaylin Ransom.

Three people Ming still is trying to wrap her brain around, why they would ever be targeted.

“Tyla you will be missed, Shirley you will be missed, Jaylin you will be missed. Y’all spirits, y’all personalities, good people. Y’all are my cousins I love y’all and I care for y’all,” says Ming.

The family encourages anyone with information to call police immediately or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

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2 dead following Friday morning homicide in KCK

KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) --- Police in KCK are investigating a double-shooting that left two people dead on Friday morning.

Police say they responded to the 700 block of Pawnee around 5 a.m.

There, they discovered two men near a vehicle that appeared to crash into a parked vehicle in the area.

It was later determined the victims were shot.

The victims were only described as two young adult Hispanic males in their 20s.

The case is under investigation and no arrests have been made yet.

If you have more information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

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Missouri preparing to put vehicle charging sites in parks

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is preparing to install electric vehicle charging stations at some of its state parks.

A budget measure approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Parson provided $1 million to the state Department of Natural Resources to begin installing stations in parks, <a href="https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/missouri-to-add-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-at-state-parks/article%E2%80%941124a360-4e04-580e-b0b8-d12b54cde20c.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1" target="&mdash;blank">the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.</a>

Department spokesperson Miranda Frederick said the effort is in its “initial stages,” so no specific details are available.

But, she added, “We have experienced an increase in demand for electric vehicle charging in some parks."

Frederick said visitors with their own equipment currently can use a campsite electric pedestal for a fee if one is available.

West Virginia provides electric charging stations free of charge at nine of its parks. In March, Colorado began building a network of charging stations in its parks. South Carolina has three stations in one of its parks.

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Kansas State will require freshmen to live on campus

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University will require that first-year students to live on campus starting in the fall of 2022.

The university said in a news release Friday that the requirement aims to enhance student success.

Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, said data shows that the university's first-year students who live on campus have higher grade point averages, stay in school in higher numbers and graduate faster.

The retention rate for freshmen who lived on campus in the fall of 2018 was 87.6%, compared to 79.9% for those who did not. For the fall of 2019, the university found that 5% more first-year students who lived on campus stayed in school than those who lived off campus.

Kansas State will join all other institutions in the Kansas Regents system, with the exception of the University of Kansas, in requiring freshmen to live on campus. Students may apply for an exemption to the policy.

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Internet goes wild debating how Travis Kelce's last name is pronounced

Internet goes wild debating how Travis Kelce's last name is pronounced

The question that's breaking the internet today is: "How do you pronounce Travis Kelce's last name?" This comes after a conversation from a podcast resurfaced over the past 24 hours in which Travis mentioned there can be a different pronunciation than we are used to.

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Macy's hiring for more than 300 positions in Missouri

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Macy's stores in Missouri and St. Louis area is hiring for more than 300 full-time and part-time positions.

The retailer will host a national hiring event Thursday at more than 500 Macy's store and fulfillment centers. The events will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Candidates are encouraged to apply online in advance of the event at <a href="http://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/YvW5CJ616Wh8w5kM1hVIxbL?domain=macysjobs.com" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="3">macysjobs.com</a>. For a list of available positions in St. Louis and Missouri, visit <a href="https://ebwh.fa.us2.oraclecloud.com/hcmUI/CandidateExperience/en/sites/CX_1001/requisitions?location=Atlanta,%20GA,%20United%20States&amp;locationId=300000002917180&amp;locationLevel=city&amp;mode=location&amp;radius=50&amp;radiusUnit=MI" target="_blank">here.</a>

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KCTV5 News Update: July 14, 2021

KCTV5 News Update: July 14, 2021

We are keeping a close eye on the growing number of COVID-19 in Missouri as the delta variant continues to spread.

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Missouri man charged with participation in January 6 riot

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A 31-year-old Festus man faces four charges related to his participation in the January 6 Capitol riots.

In a hearing Tuesday, Joshua Dressel appeared via teleconference as a judge outlined the crimes he's accused of. Dressel is charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building without authority, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. Each of those crimes are misdemeanors.

Two of the charges carry a sentence of up to six months and a fine of $5,000, the others carry sentences of a maximum of one year and a fine of up to $100,000.

Dressel, who reportedly runs a tree service company in Festus, is required to restrict travel to only the Eastern District of Missouri unless given court approval, must conduct weekly check-ins with the pre-trial office, and is not allowed to possess a gun until the case is resolved. He will have to appear for court proceedings in the District of Columbia, but is expressly forbidden to travel there unless it pertains to his case.

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KCTV5 News Update: July 13, 2021

KCTV5 News Update: July 13, 2021

We’re following a story we first brought to you this morning A two-alarm fire in an industrial park on Stadium Drive will have firefighters battling flames and hotspots for hours.

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Kansas sees COVID surge as delta variant cases keep rising

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is seeing increasingly larger numbers of new COVID-19 cases and a surge in cases of the faster-spreading delta variant as one Kansas City-area county prepares to launch a new phase of its vaccine lottery.

The state averaged 371 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, according to state Department of Health and Environment data. That was the highest figure in more than four months, since the agency's data showed an average of 404 new cases a day for the seven days ending Feb. 26.

The state reported 672 new cases since Friday, bringing the total to more than 321,000, or one case for each of its 2.9 million residents.

The state health department reported a nearly 28% increase in confirmed cases of the delta variant, up 143 cases to 659. Confirming cases of COVID-19 variants requires genetic testing, and so far this month, labs have done it for 8.8% of the state's positive COVID-19 tests.

In Wyandotte County, the health department already was entering people who got inoculated at its largest vaccination site in daily raffles for $500 gift cards. The department said that starting Wednesday, it also will let people spin for instant prizes.

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Southwest Missouri hospital opens 6th virus ward

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Springfield hospital has opened its sixth COVID-19 ward as the delta virus variant rages in the state’s southwest region, and St. Louis County health officials also are warning about a sharp increase in cases.

Mercy Hospital in Springfield opened announced Sunday that it had opened its sixth ward, after the hospital needed only five COVID-19 wards during the height of the pandemic last year, Kansas City Star <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://www.kansascity.com/news/coronavirus/article252717873.html">reported</a>.

Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick said the hospital was treating 133 virus patients as of Sunday.

“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates,” Frederick wrote. “They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative.”

On Monday, the St. Louis County Health Department issued a public health advisory after a 63% increase — 1,461 cases — in new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. The county is currently averaging 100 newly diagnosed cases per day, St. Louis Public Radio <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://news.stlpublicradio.org/coronavirus/2021-07-12/coronavirus-infection-rates-rise-63-in-st-louis-county-over-past-two-weeks">reported</a>.

County Executive Sam Page attributed the rise in cases to the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous variants. He predicted an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in coming weeks and urged residents to be vaccinated.

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KCTV5 News Update: July 12, 2021

KCTV5 News Update: July 12, 2021

Coronavirus continues to worsen in southern Missouri. Hospitals in Springfield say they're being overrun with new patients from rural areas across the state where vaccination rates remain low.

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Kansas sees surge in new COVID-19 fueled by delta variant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas on Friday reported its biggest surge in COVID-19 cases in more than three months with the faster-spreading delta variant becoming a growing public health issue.

Some of the biggest numbers of new cases per 1,000 residents over the previous two weeks were in counties bordering Missouri, where <a href="https://apnews.com/article/michael-brown-new-york-lifestyle-coronavirus-pandemic-health-a55b3a5aa6ee4c15899e157e3852cb82" target="&mdash;blank">cases have spiked recently</a> because of the delta variant. Both states also have seen vaccinations slow amid some residents' resistance to getting vaccinated.

Kansas had an average of 275 new COVID-19 cases a day for the seven days ending Friday, according to state Department of Health and Environment data. That was the highest seven-day average for new cases in 15 weeks, since March 26.

Kansas officials had <a href="https://apnews.com/article/ks-state-wire-michael-brown-kansas-travel-coronavirus-pandemic-6adfb7f776cff2e6c2bbbcf96b5cd94f" target="&mdash;blank">worried ahead of the Fourth of July</a> weekend that many of the state's residents would travel, particularly to Missouri, and bring coronavirus variants back with them. But border county residents travel into Missouri regularly for jobs, shopping, medical care and fun.

“And then also then people work over here in our county from Missouri,” said Betha Elliott, the health department administrator in Cherokee County, in the state's far southeast coroner.

The number of new cases per day is still far below its peak in mid-to-late November, but it comes after local officials ended mask-wearing mandates and leaders of the Kansas Legislature <a href="https://apnews.com/article/government-and-politics-ks-state-wire-kansas-coronavirus-pandemic-health-7302d46eef675734fe1343f2640236f9" target="&mdash;blank">ended a state of emergency</a> for the pandemic.

State health department data showed that Cherokee County had the largest number of new cases per 1,000 residents over the past two weeks of any of Kansas' 105 counties, 6.67, more than six times the state's figure of 1.08 new cases per 1,000 residents. Cherokee County has almost 20,000 residents, and the state reported 133 new confirmed or probable cases there during the past two weeks.

The top 20 counties for new cases per 1,000 residents included seven of the 10 counties bordering Missouri. Another four are in southeast Kansas — relatively close to the delta variant hotspot of southwest Missouri.

Kansas health department data showed that the number of confirmed cases of the delta variant jumped 44.1% from Monday to Friday, up 158 to 516 since the first was confirmed in May. Confirming cases of variants requires genetic testing of patients' nasal swabs or saliva samples, but both state and U.S. health officials believe most new cases in Kansas or Missouri are from the delta variant.

“We have offered assistance to local health departments and are sending added resources for testing and vaccination to the most affected areas,” Dr. Lee Norman, the state health department's top administrator, said. “We continue to advise that vaccination and mask wearing increase.”

Norman, like other health officials, said existing vaccinations are effective against the delta variant. But Kansas averaged about 7,200 shots a day for the seven days ending Friday, well below the peak average of more than 29,000 shots a day for the seven days ending April 7.

The state health department reported that 39.4% of its 2.9 million residents were fully vaccinated as of Friday.

In Wyandotte County in the Kansas City area, the health department is entering people who get their shots at its central vaccination site into a raffle for $500 gift cards. It's offering $25 gift cards to people getting tested for COVID-19. The county was in the top 20 counties for the number of new cases per 1,000 residents over the previous two weeks.

“Our success right now in terms of vaccines — it's going to be incremental. It's going to be bit by bit,” said county spokesperson Janell Friesen.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/apjdhanna" target="&mdash;blank">https://twitter.com/apjdhanna</a>

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Vaccination rates in Missouri may not add up

Vaccination rates in Missouri may not add up

PULASKI COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- We’ve been hearing a lot about the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Southwest Missouri. The Delta variant is now the predominate strain nationwide.

Health experts agree that vaccination offers protection against serious illness or death from Covid-19—even the Delta strain. Of the 17 deaths reported in Greene county in the last reporting period, none had been vaccinated. Reports from hospital administrators show only a small percentage of those who are hospitalized have been vaccinated.

Missouri lags the rest of the country in the number of people who have been vaccinated. But is it really as bad as some reports show?

We have looked at the counties with the lowest vaccination rates. State data revealed Pulaski County, in the heart of the Ozarks, had the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 11.8%. But you can’t always trust the numbers.

“By the state, we’re up,” joked George A Lauritson, Mayor of Saint Robert in Pulaski County. “We were at 8 percent—now it’s showing 11!”

That vaccination rate is getting a lot of attention. So much attention that the Health Department put this statement on their Facebook page”

That can make a big difference. Pulaski county is the home of Fort Leonard Wood. The military base provides federal vaccination to soldiers and retired military.

“They report through the federal system and not the state system," said Mayor Lauritson. “A lot of them are retires like me, and we can go on post but then our number doesn’t count for the county.”

Here’s how it breaks down:

But the Mayor isn’t concerned about the numbers. He says Business is booming and restaurants are packed. “They want to get out of town, and they are coming here,” said Lauritson.

To check state numbers, <a href="https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/novel-coronavirus/data/public-health/" target="_blank">click here</a>.

To check CDC numbers, <a href="https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home" target="_blank">click here</a>.

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