KCTV 5 Popular Stories

Artifact from 'Big Sonia' to be displayed at exhibition Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Just days before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, local Auschwitz survivor Sonia Warshawski placed a cherished artifact inside the exhibition Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away.

Warshawski is affectionately known by many as Big Sonia following a documentary by the same name about her. On Tuesday, her mother’s scarf was displayed among hundreds of other artifacts in the exhibition.

“It is my deep honor to introduce Sonia to tell her story,” Union Station President & CEO George Guastello said. “One of a handful of local living survivors of the Holocaust. Also with us today is her family. A living legacy.”

Warshawski’s mother wore the orange scarf before the two were separated during the Holocaust. Her mother was sent to a gas chamber. Warshawski was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“What I saw and how many times the hangings and seeing children going to the gas chambers, it was very easy to commit suicide,” Warshawski said. “I decided inside of me was a strength to fight.”

More than 700 original objects and 400 photographs from more than 20 institutions and museums around the world are displayed in the exhibition near the orange scarf encased by glass.

“This scarf survived with my sister Mania,” Warshawski said. “That was my momma’s. All that survived.”

With the help of a dear friend, Warshawski decided to make sure the scarf was preserved to help others learn from the past.

“It made it and for a long time I was having it under my pillow,” Warshawski said. Tears filled her eyes as she kissed her hand and touched the glass around her mother’s scarf.

She wants to make sure the stories of survivors are told, that the loved ones they lost are never forgotten and what happened during the Holocaust is never repeated.

“Never, never,” Warshawski said.

The exhibition has sold more than 310,000 tickets and is the highest attended exhibition in Union Station history. The exhibition is open through March 20th.

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FORECAST: Worst of cold air to move out, high above freezing for Wednesday

FORECAST: Worst of cold air to move out, high above freezing for Wednesday

It looks like the worst of this arctic air will move out Wednesday, with the high at least surpassing freezing. The good news is that we should remain dry for the rest of the week; the next chance of precipitation isn't until early next week.

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KCTV5 News Update: Jan. 25, 2022

KCTV5 News Update: Jan. 25, 2022

Tonight, a Clay County woman is facing charges in connection with the death of a 3-month-old baby.

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City of Shawnee takes stance on transgender athletes

City of Shawnee takes stance on transgender athletes

The city of Shawnee has taken an official stance on the issue of transgender athletes competing in women's sports.

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Leaders weigh in on whether Core 4 will bring back mask mandate

Leaders weigh in on whether Core 4 will bring back mask mandate

Will a metro-wide mask mandate be put back in place? We know leaders from the Core 4 plan to talk about the idea next week so we talked to the leaders of KCMO and Jackson, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties to see what the probability is.

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Kansas governor calls for investigation into teen's death

Gov. Laura Kelly has ordered the Kansas agency that oversees foster care to investigate the death of a 17-year-old who was restrained face down for more than 30 minutes last fall at a Wichita juvenile intake center after his foster father called begging for help because the teen was hallucinating.

“This situation is tragic, and we must find a way to ensure something like this never happens again,” Kelly said in a written statement calling for the Kansas Department for Children and Families to review the case of Cedric Lofton and see if policies needed to be changed.

Meanwhile, the Sedgwick County Department of Corrections announced Tuesday that it was forming a task force to review what happened. Glenda Martens, the department's director, said the work would be “painstakingly difficult."

The developments come one week after Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett expressed concerns about the handling of Lofton's case when he announced that he <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://apnews.com/article/wichita-kansas-a51f619b8b196987e74b046ac399680c">wouldn't file any criminal charges</a>. He said he struggled with whether an involuntary manslaughter charge was justified, but concluded that the state’s <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://apnews.com/article/kansas-wichita-topeka-legislature-gun-politics-6f61a926a56353a4b22ffecf90c46be3">“stand-your-ground” law</a> prevented him from pursuing it because staff members were protecting themselves.

Kelly also said she was looking forward to hearing recommendations from Bennett, the Legislature and advocates on ways to clarify or modify the law.

According to Bennett’s report, Lofton's mental health got markedly worse after the teen attended his grandmother’s funeral. Lofton's family expressed concern to the foster father that Cedric “was having either a mental breakdown and, or he was having an onset of schizophrenia.”

And one of his foster brothers later told investigators that Lofton had complained that there were kids in his class at school that were robots who were trying to kill him, the report said.

At the urging of a case manager with DCCCA, a private foster care agency that contracts with DCF, the foster father drove Lofton to a mental health provider, but he walked away. When Lofton returned home in the pre-dawn hours of on Sept. 24, the case worker told the foster father to not let the teen into the house and to call police.

Bennett wrote in his report: “Whether the State of Kansas should accept a foster care system that responds to a foster father’s expression of concern that his foster son is in mental distress by telling the man, don’t let him in the house and call the police -- is a legitimate question. A question, in fact, that may well demand answers."

DCF spokesman Mike Deines didn’t comment about the investigation but did note that policy stipulates that providers are expected to have staff available, accessible and able to manage a crisis.

Police who arrived at the home spent nearly an hour trying to convince Lofton to go to a hospital for mental health treatment. But Lofton refused, telling officers he was concerned about people trying to kill him, the report said.

When officers tried to escort the 5-foot-10, 135-pound Lofton to the patrol car, Lofton struck and kicked at them, the report said. They ultimately restrained him in something called the WRAP, a device comprised of a locking shoulder harness, leg restraints and ankle straps.

A sergeant said in an interview that he believed Lofton was too combative to take to the hospital. But at least one officer involved can be heard saying on a body camera recording that he thought the teen should have been taken there and not to the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center.

Once at the center, Lofton scuffled with staff after the WRAP restraint was removed. <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://apnews.com/article/kansas-wichita-72306786c90addb96280d1738d931ad8">Surveillance video</a> released Friday shows him punching one of the juvenile detention employees in the head.

Bennett’s report said staff shackled Lofton’s ankles and put him on his stomach on the floor. His report said Cedric was “mumbling” at times, repeated that he was Jesus and saying staff should kill themselves and that he would “hex” them. Staff noticed he wasn’t breathing after they called to arrange for Lofton to be taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Paramedics rushed to the scene, but Lofton died two days later.

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World’s oldest male gorilla dies at Georgia zoo

ATLANTA (CBS46/Gray News) — The world’s oldest male gorilla has died at the age of 61 at a Georgia zoo.

Ozzie, who was the third oldest gorilla in the world, was found deceased by his care team on Jan. 25.

Ozzie’s cause of death is not known at this time. He exhibited decreased appetite since last Thursday and the animal care team has been encouraging him to eat and drink.

Over the last 24 hours, the team noticed facial swelling, weakness, and inability to eat or drink.

A necropsy, which is the non-human equivalent of an autopsy, will be performed.

Ozzie was a true living legend in the fabric of Zoo Atlanta’s history and, like his peer the late Willie B., was an icon in his own time, symbolic of the dramatic rebirth of the Zoo in the 1980s, according to the zoo. He was the only surviving member of the original generation of gorillas who arrived at Zoo Atlanta with the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988.

He made zoological history in 2009, when he became the first gorilla in the world ever to participate in a voluntary blood pressure reading. Remarkably, he was geriatric even at the time of that accomplishment, at age 48. Gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of about 40.

Ozzie is survived by daughter Kuchi; sons Kekla, Stadi, and Charlie; granddaughter Lulu; great-granddaughter Andi, and great-grandson Floyd, all of whom live at Zoo Atlanta. His legacy also includes children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living at other accredited zoos in the U.S. and Canada.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Twenty-four gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Missouri redistricting plan speeds toward Senate debate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A proposal to redraw Missouri's eight U.S. House districts is speeding toward an expected divisive debate in the state Senate, where some conservative Republicans want to further bend the district boundaries to their advantage.

A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a congressional redistricting plan that had <a href="https://apnews.com/article/congress-missouri-elections-redistricting-primary-elections-dfb0b43442866672aaacf8c6b5f576fd" target="&mdash;blank">passed the House just last week</a>. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said he plans to bring the measure up for debate Wednesday.

Missouri currently is represented in the U.S. House by six Republicans and two Democrats whose districts are based in St. Louis and Kansas City. All states must redraw their congressional districts to account for population changes noted by the 2020 census, so that each new district has the same number of people.

<a href="https://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills221/maps/Map.4875H.02P.pdf" target="&mdash;blank">A redistricting plan</a> backed by Republican legislative leaders is projected to keep a 6-2 Republican edge in the congressional delegation, with the suburban St. Louis district of GOP Rep. Ann Wagner remaining the closest thing to a swing district.

Some conservative Republicans are instead pushing for a map that could yield a 7-1 Republican edge by splitting up the Kansas City-area district of Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and merging its urban residents with Republican-leaning voters from rural areas.

Several conservative activists testified in support of a more aggressively Republican map during Tuesday's committee hearing, asserting it would help the anti-abortion movement and was justified as part of a national political battle for control of Congress. They noted that Democrats and Republicans in power in some other states also have been gerrymandering districts to their favor.

Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Mike Bernskoetter said he took the unusual step of hearing testimony and voting on a bill on the same day because he wanted to get it quickly to the full Senate. The bill advanced on a 9-5 vote, gaining the support of seven Republicans and two Democrats. It was opposed by three Republicans and two Democrats.

Candidate filing for this year's August primary election is to begin Feb. 22.

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Park Hill cancels classes due to staff illnesses

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The Park Hill school district is canceling classes Thursday and Friday because of a high number of staff out sick.

The district announced Tuesday that it is facing a "staffing crisis" because of employees becoming sick. All schools, offices, facilities and programs will be closed on Thursday and Friday of this week.

Evening activities may still be available, but this will be determined on a case-by-case basis to see if enough staff will be available.

No alternative methods of instruction (AMI) days will be used because there is not enough healthy staff members to utilize online learning. The district also said the two days will not be made up at the end of the school year.

The district reminded families how they can help during this time. They asked families to keep their kids home when they are sick, and also asked parents and guardians to consider applying to be a substitute for the district.

You can read the entire announcement from the district by <a href="https://www.parkhill.k12.mo.us/" target="_blank">clicking here</a>.

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Neil Young wants his music off Spotify over Joe Rogan’s vaccine misinformation

(Gray News) – Neil Young will keep on rocking in the free world, but maybe not on Spotify.

The 76-year-old musician asked his managers and record label to remove his music from the streaming platform.

He’s upset with Spotify because the platform also hosts “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, which has recently come under scrutiny for its coverage of coronavirus vaccines. Rogan is an outspoken critic of the vaccines and has made some inaccurate claims about them, experts say.

Young has since removed Monday’s post on his website asking for his music to come off Spotify. The post was originally reported by <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/neil-young-demands-spotify-remove-music-vaccine-disinformation-1290020/" target="_blank">Rolling Stone</a>.

His manager confirmed to <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/neil-young-demands-his-music-be-pulled-from-spotify-over-vaccine-misinformation-on-joe-rogan-podcast?via=twitter_page" target="_blank">The Daily Beast</a> that the rocker is very upset about misinformation on the vaccine.

Young isn’t the only one concerned about vaccine misinformation. Earlier this month, a group of more than 250 scientists and doctors <a href="https://spotifyopenletter.wordpress.com/2022/01/10/an-open-letter-to-spotify/" target="_blank">penned a letter</a> to Spotify condemning Rogan’s show.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. CNN Newsource contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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Man fatally shot in the area of 80th & Euclid on Saturday identified

Man fatally shot in the area of 80th & Euclid on Saturday identified

The video above is from Saturday's newscast.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The Kansas City Police Department has identified a man who was fatally shot on Saturday morning.

According to the KCPD, officers went to the 8000 block of Euclid Ave. at about 11:15 a.m. after receiving a call about a prowler.

While officers were on the way to the scene, the call was upgraded to a shooting.

When officers arrived, they found a man suffering from apparent gunshot wounds behind a residence.

He was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, but ultimately died from his injuries.

That day, the police did say that they had detained a person of interest. They also said that they were not looking for any additional people in connection with the incident.

On Tuesday, the man who died was identified as 37-year-old Cornelius Flowers Jr.

If you have any information, you are asked to call detectives at 816-234-5043. If you'd like to remain anonymous call 816-474-TIPS.

No further information is available at this time.

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No charges against officers who fatally shot suicidal teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — No charges will be filed against police officers who shot and killed an apparently suicidal teenager in Grandview last year, the Jackson County Prosecutor's office said.

The officers shot 17-year-old Lantz Stephenson Jr. several times at a park on May 16 after he pointed a BB gun that looked like a weapon at them, investigators said.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a letter Jan. 7 that the officers’ actions “were within the scope of their legal authority" as Missouri law enforcement officers, The Kansas City Star <a href="https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article257695233.html" target="&mdash;blank">reported</a>.

Baker's letter, based in part on an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said Stephenson called police dispatchers to say he had a gun and wanted to get in a “shoot out” with police.

When officers arrived, Stephenson advanced toward them with what looked like a weapon and refused commands to put it down, prompting officers to fire, according to the letter.

Paramedics who arrived after the shooting asked Stephenson if he was attempting suicide and he nodded that he was, the letter said. He later died during surgery at a hospital.

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US warns that computer chip shortage could shut down factories

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. supply of computer chips has fallen to alarmingly low levels, raising the prospect of factory shutdowns, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Companies that use semiconductors are down to less than five days of inventory — a sharp drop from 40 days in 2019, according to a department survey of 150 companies. The chips used in the production of automobiles and medical devices are especially scarce.

Demand for chips, the department said, was up 17% last year from 2019.

Citing the results, the Biden administration called on Congress <a href="https://apnews.com/article/politics-china-business-health-coronavirus-pandemic-395fa2476a798701f43758805c7eab8d">to pass stalled legislation</a> that would provide $52 billion for domestic semiconductor production.

“The semiconductor supply chain remains fragile, and it is essential that Congress pass chips funding as soon as possible,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “With sky-rocketing demand and full utilization of existing manufacturing facilities, it’s clear the only solution to solve this crisis in the long-term is to rebuild our domestic manufacturing capabilities.’’

Chip shortages have <a href="https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-business-health-3e51e0b4dd6afac30a21aa6c3725c05b">disrupted auto production and driven up car prices</a>, contributing significantly to a 7% year-over-year increase in consumer prices last month — the <a href="https://apnews.com/article/why-is-inflation-so-high-5f69bed77f98221f9936ae99f96fd361">hottest inflation in four decades</a>. Still, it would take years for semiconductor factories to begin operation.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Nearly 40 dogs in cages rescued from Texas property; water bowls frozen over

Nearly 40 dogs in cages rescued from Texas property; water bowls frozen over

TYLER, Texas (Gray News) – Nearly 40 dogs were rescued from an alleged neglect situation on a property in Texas.

<a href="https://www.humanesociety.org/news/approximately-40-dogs-rescued-smith-county-texas" target="_blank">The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said</a> the dogs were found Jan. 21 in chain-link kennels with their water bowls frozen over. The HSUS described the living conditions as “hazardous,” with corrugated metal collapsing into some of the cages.

Local authorities discovered the dogs while serving a search and seizure warrant at the home. The dogs were surrendered by the suspect. It’s unclear if anyone is facing charges.

The HSUS said some of the dogs appeared to be fearful, while others were eager for attention and excited to greet the rescuers.

The dogs were taken to a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location to be examined by veterinarians and receive care.

Smith County Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin said this has been an ongoing investigation for the past three weeks. He said the property owner told him they had tried to form a rescue, but it got out of control.

“I believe that those rescue efforts kind of became more of a hobby than it was a rescue, and it went from a hobby to a hoarder situation,” Joplin told <a href="https://www.kltv.com/2022/01/21/38-dogs-removed-hoarding-situation-winona/" target="_blank">KLTV.</a> “I think they just kind of got in over their head and didn’t know who to ask for for help.”

The HSUS said 10 dogs were rescued from the same property earlier this month.

All the dogs will eventually be available for adoption after their immediate needs are addressed.

Tyler is a city about 100 miles east of Dallas.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elton John’s tour dates postponed after he tests positive for COVID-19

DALLAS (AP) — Despite being vaccinated and boosted, Elton John has contracted COVID-19 and is postponing two farewell concert dates in Dallas.

John “is experiencing only mild symptoms,” according to a statement. “Elton and the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour look forward to returning to the stage shortly.”

John was due to hit the American Airlines Center stage in Dallas on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 but fans “should hold on to their tickets as they will be honored at the rescheduled dates to be announced soon.”

John’s rescheduled 2020 North American tour kicked off on Jan. 19 in New Orleans and was scheduled to make stops in Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, New York and Miami.

John previously said he was postponing European dates on his world tour until 2023 so that he can have an operation on an injured hip.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Appeals court rules against Kim Gardner in open records case

ST. LOUS (AP) — The Missouri Court of Appeals at St. Louis on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling that the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office violated the state's open records law by not producing records sought by a conservative journalist.

In 2020, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Christopher McGraugh’s issued a $5,000 penalty for Gardner's response to a lawsuit filed by conservative journalist John Solomon.

Solomon was seeking all of Gardner's contacts with staff and other key players in the 2018 criminal investigations of then-Gov. Eric Greitens, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch <a href="tltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/appeals-court-upholds-ruling-that-st-louis-circuit-attorney-violated-sunshine-law/article%E2%80%94f85e60ec-e6b4-5132-ab5d-92b45a7ef54c.html?utm%E2%80%94campaign=snd-autopilot&amp;utm%E2%80%94medium=social&amp;utm%E2%80%94source=twitter%E2%80%94stltoday" target="&mdash;blank">reported</a>.

The appeals court agreed with McGraugh's finding that Gardner's failure to file a timely response to Solomon's petition was the result of her “carelessness, inattention, and deliberate disregard,”

Gardner's spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Solomon's attorney, Dave Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri, said citizens needed to know what Gardner's office was doing and why it was making some of the decisions it made.

“It was shocking and offensive that she wasn’t going to turn over anything,” Roland said.

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Pfizer begins testing omicron-matched COVID shots in adults

Pfizer is enrolling healthy adults to test a reformulated COVID-19 vaccine that matches the hugely contagious <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://apnews.com/article/how-can-i-protect-myself-from-omicron-variant-c4e5662a36708a594c454b171ab93bd0">omicron variant</a>, to see how it compares with the original shots.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced the study on Tuesday.

COVID-19 vaccine-makers have been updating their shots to better match omicron in case global health authorities decide the change is needed.

Omicron is more likely than previous variants to cause infection even in people who’ve been vaccinated, but it’s not yet clear that a change to the vaccine recipe will be ordered. Among the issues regulators are weighing: Some of the first places to face an omicron surge already are seeing the mutant wane — and there's no way to know if the next variant that arises will resemble omicron or be totally different.

The original vaccines still offer good protection against severe illness and death. Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have made clear that adding a booster dose strengthens that protection and improves the chances of avoiding even a milder infection.

Another wrinkle in deciding whether vaccines need an update: A <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7104e4.htm?s%E2%80%94cid=mm7104e4%E2%80%94w">new U.S. report</a> Tuesday echoes data from Britain and South Africa that omicron infections cause less severe illness — at least in part because so many people have some protection from vaccination or prior infection. During the omicron surge, 13% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients ended up in intensive care, compared with about 18% during two earlier waves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, "we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address omicron and new variants in the future,” Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s vaccine research chief, said in a statement.

The new U.S. study will include up to 1,420 volunteers ages 18 to 55 to test the updated omicron-based shots for use as a booster or for primary vaccinations. Researchers will examine the tweaked vaccine’s safety and how it revs up the immune system in comparison to the original shots.

Full study results will take many months as volunteers receive multiple vaccine doses — and as researchers measure how long virus-fighting antibodies remain at high levels after an omicron-adapted dose versus the regular booster.

Pfizer’s CEO told CNBC earlier this month that the company could have some omicron-matched doses ready as early as March. But doing what the company calls “at-risk” manufacturing doesn't mean those doses will be rolled out to the public. Pfizer and other vaccine makers also have brewed and tested experimental doses to match previous variants, changes that ultimately weren’t needed but offered valuable practice at tweaking the recipe.

For the new study, one group of about 600 volunteers who received two doses of the current Pfizer vaccine three to six months ago will receive either one or two omicron-based shots as boosters. Another 600 who have already gotten three regular doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be given a fourth dose of either the regular vaccine or the omicron-matched version.

The study also will enroll some unvaccinated volunteers who will receive three doses of the omicron-based vaccine.

Pfizer plans to produce 4 billion vaccine doses in 2022, and said Tuesday the amount isn’t expected to change if an omicron-adapted version is needed.

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Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Legionnaires' disease cases found in former Rolla patients

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Health officials are working to determine how four people contracted Legionnaire's disease while hospitalized last year at Phelps Health in Rolla, the state health department announced Tuesday.

The four patients were hospitalized between May and December of last year, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said.

The health department said it is advising health care workers and the public who might have had contact with a water source at the hospital about the cases “out of an abundance of caution."

Legionnaire's disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by inhaling small water droplets containing legionella bacteria. It is generally not spread from person to person.

The health department is collaborating with Phelps Health to prevent additional infections and ensure early detection of cases, Dr. George Turabelidze, state epidemiologist, said in a news release.

Phelps Health is also working with its water monitoring company for continued testing of its water system, and is contacting providers about the possibility of legionella transmission.

“At Phelps Health, the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff are our top priorities,” Phelps Health President and CEO Jason Shenefield said. “We will continue collaborating with our partners to help investigate these cases.”

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Interstate 70 closed in western Kansas as snow moves in

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Interstate 70 in western Kansas was closed Tuesday from Goodland to the Colorado border as winter weather moves into the state from Colorado.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced the interstate and several other roads in northwest Kansas were closed because of weather and several crashes reported in Colorado.

Some western Kansas counties are under a winter storm warning until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Forecasters say some parts of the region could receive up to 8 inches of snow.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said on Twitter that troopers in western Kansas were working several crashes because of low visibility and poor road conditions.

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Man who refuses COVID-19 vaccination denied heart transplant

Man who refuses COVID-19 vaccination denied heart transplant

BOSTON (WBZ) - A father is speaking out to bring attention to the plight of his son.

The man needs a heart transplant, but doctors won’t give him one because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns,” said David Ferguson of his son DJ.

He says the 31-year-old is fighting for his life at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in desperate need of a heart transplant.

“His heart has deteriorated so much that it won’t work on its own,” Ferguson said.

The family said he was at the front of the line to receive a transplant, but because he has not received the COVID-19 vaccination, he is no longer eligible, according to hospital policy.

And Ferguson said his son refuses to get the shot.

“It’s kind of against his basic principles. He doesn’t really believe in it,” he said.

Brigham and Women’s released a statement, saying they are “like many other transplant programs in the United States - the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.”

“Post any transplant, kidney, heart, whatever, your immune system is shut off,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

He said being vaccinated is necessary for this type of procedure.

“The flu could kill, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. The organs are scarce, and they are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving,” Caplan said.

Currently, DJ is a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He’s a father of two children with another child on the way.

The family said they are not sure what they’ll do at this time. They’re thinking about transferring. But right now they say he’s too weak to move.

While the family says DJ has received great care from doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they just don’t agree with the heart transplant COVID-19 vaccination policy.

“It’s his body; it’s his choice,” Ferguson said.

A mechanical pump is another option for DJ instead of a transplant. Doctors will do that surgery even if he is not vaccinated.

Copyright 2022 WBZ via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.

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