Local News

Peter Najera is the new president and CEO of the United Way of the Plains.

He replaces Pat Hanrahan, who retired in late June after leading the organization for 35 years.

Najera comes from the Rudd Foundation, where he served as president for nearly three years of the Wichita nonprofit.

Najera says he has dedicated his entire adult life to service. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army and has worked with a variety of nonprofits throughout his career.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service file photo

WICHITA, Kansas — Jennifer Mathes kept her expectations for the spring low.

A sudden, pandemic-driven shift from classrooms to online instruction was bound to throw the Blue Valley school district a curve. That would be a loss for the quality of teaching she could expect for her daughter.

But for the fall?

Hugo Phan / KMUW

Sedgwick County’s top health official has issued a mandatory face mask order, the latest effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 140,000 companies in Missouri and Kansas received loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Loan program, ranging from restaurants and franchisees to car dealerships to nursing care facilities.

A lawsuit brought by one of 100 military veterans who were sexually abused by a physician assistant at the VA hospital in Leavenworth will determine if the federal government is liable for damages in what the plaintiff’s lawyer described as “the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of the VA.”

“Countless veterans have never gotten their day in court, have never gotten justice,” the lawyer, Daniel A. Thomas, said in opening statements at the federal trial, which began today. “And more importantly, not a single person from the VA has ever been held accountable.”

courtesy photo

TOPEKA — A Kansas county Republican Party chairman who owns a weekly newspaper has apologized for a cartoon posted on the paper's Facebook page that equated the Democratic governor's coronavirus-inspired order for people to wear masks in public with the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Brian Grimmett / KMUW

Hair has been quite the topic during the coronavirus. For the first episode of My Fellow Kansans: People and the Pandemic, we spoke with a salon owner.

Montella Wimbley has owned a combination salon and barber shop in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Wichita for 34 years.

When Kansas shut business down, she had to put down her trimmers and pick up the phone — over and over again, taking weeks to get through to someone at the state’s beleaguered unemployment agency.


With the situation regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak changing rapidly, we’re compiling news and information here about COVID-19. For more community updates, including reopenings, check out our COVID-19 Resource Center.

How many known cases are in Kansas?

As of July 8, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed 17,618 cases of COVID-19 (+717 since last report), and 282 deaths (+2). KDHE gives a live update on its Facebook page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m.

More than 190,000 other people have tested negative for COVID-19. 

Sedgwick County, which includes confirmed cases not finalized in KDHE's count, says as of July 8 there have been 1,703 confirmed cases (+51 since last report) and 28 deaths (no change). 

The U.S. has had more than 2.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 131,000 deaths. 

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Curtains have been allowed to lift since Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order ended in late May.

But local theaters are still figuring out how to do so safely. And the ones that have opened are struggling to convince audiences to take a seat.

"People are not buying tickets," said J Basham, owner of The Crown Uptown Theatre in Wichita.

The Crown reopened in early June. To keep the audience safe, the theater cut its capacity in half. But even with fewer seats, Basham says he’s not filling them.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Sedgwick County commissioners voted Thursday not to adopt Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order on masks as a mandate, but instead are recommending that residents mask up when they're out in public.

Some commissioners said they support the order’s intent, but questioned its enforceability.

"We really and truly need to wear our masks when we’re going out," Commissioner David Dennis said, "but the problem is enforcement."