As Kansas enters the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, essential workers at some of Wichita’s largest employers meet qualifications to get the shot.

Steve Depolo / flickr Creative Commons

An updated employment forecast from Wichita State University shows the local economy improving slightly more than expected in 2021.

Courtesy Mahaney Group

For more than 130 years, the Mahaney Group has helped build Wichita.

The company — better known as Mahaney Roofing until a name change in 2019 — has worked on many local landmarks, like Wichita High School (now called Wichita East) in 1923, and the original University of Wichita roundhouse in 1955.

These days, the company is earning a reputation for its work in helping to build people as well.

Over the last decade, the Mahaney Group has pursued a philosophy to assist employees who want to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

In mid-March, millions of American workers were suddenly told to work from home. At first, many of us welcomed what we thought was a temporary change — no commute and working in pajamas? That’s the dream.

We hunkered down in our homes and made the best of the situation, telecommuting while lounging on our couches or using a coffee table as a makeshift desk.

But five months later, the situation has proved it is far from temporary, and it’s time we make some serious adjustments to our work-from-home setups to ensure we don’t develop chronic injuries over time.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

One day you’re working from an office in downtown Wichita, the next you’re conducting business out of the spare bedroom downstairs.

Among the many changes the pandemic has caused, perhaps none has impacted people more than having to work from home.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The economic shutdown driven by the COVID-19 outbreak put Sherri Calderwood out of work.

Then her job waiting tables opened up again.

But that opportunity came with a tough choice, one she shares with millions of other Americans: Somehow manage without a paycheck or risk her health earning a living.

Several years ago, she had a blood disease that required doctors to remove her spleen, a fist-sized organ that helps the body fight infection.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Protesters angry about the stay-at-home order in Kansas and the tens of thousands of people it’s tossed from work rallied at the state Capitol Thursday.

They clogged traffic on the four blocks that ring the Statehouse for more than an hour, honking on horns, calling out slogans on bullhorns and pressing Gov. Laura Kelly to reopen businesses in the state.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The more Kansas tests people for the coronavirus, the clearer it becomes that black Kansans are being disproportionately affected — a sobering trend that is true in communities across the U.S.

Black Kansans are three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white people, and more than seven times more likely to die from the virus. Latinos are also about three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

The data mirrors trends seen in across U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit, as well as other states.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A month into the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing is clear: The Kansas Department of Labor found itself unprepared for a record number of jobless claims filed by people suddenly tossed out of work.

“It’s completely unprecedented,” said Brett Flachsbarth, deputy secretary and a 15-year veteran of the agency.

Since March 14, more than 160,000 Kansans have filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits. That is a 2,457% increase over the previous month.

The coronavirus continues to spread in Kansas. The result of emergency orders is that many people are staying in their homes.

The shutdown of businesses across the state has triggered a record wave of people seeking unemployment benefits. The public health emergency has also forced politicians off the campaign trail.

On this week’s Statehouse Blend Kansas, Jim McLean talks with the manager of one U.S. Senate campaign to find out how that candidate is adapting.