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COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES: Fate of college football season could be decided Tuesday – KMBC Kansas City

Kansas City metro area health officials are grappling with how to handle continuing case count increases after reopening businesses more than a month ago.What you need to know:The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday the state has 31,730 cases confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been 387 deaths since the outbreak started. Kansas is now only updating COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Monday that 1,307 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the state and there are 59,954 confirmed cases since the outbreak started.TUESDAY9 a.m. — Although most everything remains up in the air with college football, there likely won’t be any college games at Arrowhead Stadium this season.Missouri and Arkansas were set to meet at Arrowhead in November, but that game has been canceled as part of the Southeastern Conference’s s new 10-game all-conference format announced last week.But that news has become a relatively minor development in the past few days, as there has been plenty of speculation about the future of college football.There were reports Monday morning that two of the Power 5 conferences – the Big Ten and the Pac 12 – had decided to cancel or shift its football seasons to the spring. But then conference officials said nothing has been decided. Both conferences have scheduled meetings for Tuesday morning, where formal votes are expected on how to move forward.The Big 12 leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday, although no decisions are expected to be made. The ACC and SEC are reportedly moving forward with plans to play this fall, but that could change if other Power 5 conferences decide to pull the plug.8 a.m. — Johnson County reported Tuesday morning 5,869 (+69) positive cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started. The county said it has 3,509 presumed recoveries and 105 (+2) people have died since the start of the outbreak. It also has tested 83,519 people with 78,964 negative tests for an overall positive test rate of 7.1%. The county said it has tested 138.6 people per 1,000 in the county. The county said it is monitoring 14 outbreaks at senior living care facilities, which is the same as Monday’s report. Johnson County health officials lost access to hospital bed utilization in June and has not reported those numbers since June 19.7:45 a.m.– Wyandotte County is reporting 4,914 (+14) confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 42 (+0) patients currently hospitalized and 107 (+2) probable cases. The county said 99 (+0) people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, and 1,382 people are presumed recovered. The 66102 ZIP code is the most impacted area of the county with 1,328 cases, followed by the 66104 ZIP code with 823 and 66106 with 605. Wyandotte County does not list hospital capacity numbers on its dashboard. 7:30 a.m.– The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people that have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Tuesday morning, there have been 19,584 people that have recovered from the coronavirus. This includes 1,374 in Wyandotte County, 3,509 in Johnson County, 1,352 in Leavenworth County and 647 in Douglas County. 6:30 a.m. — A Republican leader in the Kansas Legislature is accusing Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s top public health administrator of using a misleading presentation to bolster their argument for requiring people to wear masks in public. House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins’ criticism Monday came as a debate raged over imposing mandates to get the coronavirus under control. Hawkins’ criticism of Dr. Lee Norman came after the CEO of the small-government, free-market think tank suggested that Norman had “doctored” a chart used in a news conference last week. READ MORE6 a.m. — After pushing back the start days for schools, the Raytown, Missouri School District board of education voted Monday night to push back the return to school buildings for another month. Last month the district announced plans to push back the start of school until after Labor Day and stated that at least the first two weeks of school would be done online only through distance learning. The district originally said online learning would continue until at least Sept. 22. On Monday night, the district announced plans to push that date back again. READ MORE[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ][ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]MONDAY10:30 p.m. — The Raytown school board voted Monday to move the first day of school PK-12 to Sept. 8. The board also voted that all grade levels will be virtual learning only (no exceptions) until at least Oct. 22.2:30 p.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,027 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 59,954 since the start of the outbreak.There have now been 1,307 deaths across Missouri from COVID-19.Health officials said 923 patients have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Due to a change in data measures and the reporting platform issued by the White House on July 13, data on hospitalization reflects a 72-hour delay.The state of Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]The state said it has tested a total of 769,918 people through PCR testing – a test that looks for the virus in the nose, throat or other areas of the respiratory tract to determine if there is an active infection – and 7.5% of those were positive. The seven-day percent positive of PCR tested individuals is 10.8%The state said it has tested 62,414 through serology testing – a test that looks for antibodies in the blood – and 3.8% of those were positive.The DHSS reports 6,648 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas City, Missouri, while Jackson County now has 4,014 cases since the outbreak started. Health officials said there have been 63 deaths in Kansas City, and Jackson County reports 52 total.The state also lists 1,037 total cases in Clay County (outside of Kansas City), 742 in Cass County and 363 in Platte County.1:15 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,092 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday to push the statewide total to 31,730 since the outbreak started. DHE officials said the death total grew by seven on Monday to 387, and the average median age of the deaths is 78.Health officials said Monday that 1,911 (+90) patients have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak, 534 (+8) were admitted to the ICU, 194 (+1) required mechanical ventilation and 1,319 (+26) patients have been discharged. The state also said it has 47% of its ICU beds available and 84% of its ventilators available.The state said it has tested 326,669 people with 294,939 negative test results, an overall positive test rate of 9.7%, and it is testing 112.13 per 1,000 people in Kansas.[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]Johnson County continues to have the most confirmed cases in Kansas with 5,913. Sedgwick County – where Wichita is located – is now the county with the second most cases with 5,207. Wyandotte County is third with 5,063 cases.Leavenworth County – home to Lansing Correctional Facility – has 1,513 cases, and Douglas County now reports 746.Health officials said the median age of people with COVID-19 is 37, and they are monitoring 119 (-31) active outbreak clusters.The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Monday afternoon, there have been 19,172 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.11 a.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday she was concerned about schools opening throughout the Sunflower State after a new report indicates more than 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July.The report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association said in those two weeks, there was a 40% increase in child cases across the states and cities that were studied. READ MORE9 a.m. — There’s a lot riding on a kickoff set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.The Sterling College Warriors are scheduled to take on the McPherson College Bulldogs at home. If that familiar thud of shoe against football and cheer from the stands doesn’t happen, the college that keeps the central Kansas town’s economy humming, that gives it cultural vitality, and that separates Sterling from the hollowing out that defines so many other small Midwestern towns, might not survive.The school, after 133 years, could die and doom the town that takes such pride in the football squad and embraces the student body like family.Hundreds of small colleges dotting the country rely on students paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in exchange for a distinctive, personal, high-touch college experience.Many of those colleges hung on year-to-year even before the pandemic. Now COVID-19 threatens to cut off the oxygen sustaining these schools, and the sports programs that drive enrollment, KCUR-FM reports.But the very thing small colleges need to stay afloat – students coming in, spending money, playing sports – also poses a major risk to relatively isolated little towns that, so far, have dodged major coronavirus outbreaks.Only about 2,200 people live in Sterling out on the flat, flat plains of south-central Kansas. But this small city boasts an almost idyllic downtown. New office buildings. Two good coffee shops. A nice grocery store, a bowling alley, you name it.Sterling has good schools, competitive sports teams. Locals say school plays, games and concerts draw big crowds. Without the college, the money, diversity and energy that defines life in Sterling could evaporate quickly.“There is just so much overlap,” said Kyler Comley, a Sterling College senior who’s lived in the town all his life. “The community supports the college. The college supports the community. You know, you just see how everything’s intertwined and how people are just so overly giving and involved.”Every student attending Sterling College gets paired with a family in town. Those families speak endearingly about their adopted scholars.The students left in March. Most haven’t come back. Like many people here, Sterling criminal justice professor Mark Tremaine said that starting classes up again in person this month is make or break for Sterling College.“The bottom line is, we’ve got to get students back to campus. If we’re going to survive,” he said.“We have to accept whatever the risks are and do it.”And that’s the plan. Sterling doesn’t have much of a choice.“We have committed to open up in the fall,” Sterling College President Scott Rich said. “With face to face classes, face-to-face coursework, dorms and activities and full swing. But we’re committed to doing it safely.”Rich said the school will quarantine students coming back to the dorms, test them liberally, and isolate those who come down sick in local hotels.Rich said the freshman class looks strong, with about 200 new students. But he is desperately trying to woo 50 or so upperclassmen who haven’t signed on this year. The school needs them because, like many other small institutions, Sterling College scrapes by from year to year.“We’re always dependent upon enrollment, always dependent upon that next year, always dependent upon persistence or retention,” Rich said. “We have to get students to come back.”Other small-town schools across the country, and the communities tied to their fate, face the same existential crisis.“Some of the people I know are looking at hundreds of colleges going out of business within the next several years, if this pandemic continues and if the economic devastation associated with it continues,” said Scott Carlson with the Chronicle of Higher Education.Small liberal arts colleges have been shaky for years. Enrollments have slumped, endowments have been drained. Many schools have piled on debt in a building boom fueled by competition for students.Most offer courses online, but online classes don’t pay the bills. Small schools survive only by providing an expensive, in-person college experience. And Carlson said the pandemic shreds that business model, and threatens to trigger the higher education equivalent of a mass extinction.“It’s kind of sad,” he said. “These colleges are unique, little entities all on their own, and each one of them provides a unique spin on higher education.”Sterling College, for instance, leans heavily on a particular interpretation of Christianity. Guarding the front door of the classic, old limestone building that anchors campus is a statue of Christ – not being tortured on the cross, but humbly washing the feet of a disciple. “Servant leadership,” as anyone here will tell you, guides the campus ethic.But Jesus doesn’t keep the lights on here. Football does.“We do have a good football team,” said Sterling’s athletic director, Scott Downing. “They’ve been fairly successful the last dozen years and been to the national playoffs, won the conference championship.”The team helps bring the students together, but more importantly, it drives enrollment.“With a football team number of about 125 to 135 student-athletes, quite a bit of our student body is involved in that sport,” Downing said.That’s an understatement. There are only about 500 students on campus in a given year, one in four is on the football team. And there are 20 other sports.The chance to play college sports is a major selling point for schools like Sterling. It drives enrollment. But in a pandemic, sports can be vectors for disease. And Jed Miller, who’s finishing his degree at Sterling online next year, says that’s another vulnerability.“If COVID defeats the athletic season this year, it will probably defeat a lot of small colleges,” he said. “And as a result, hurt a lot of small towns … badly.”So, the same colleges that keep some small towns vibrant now pose a particular threat to public health.“The college probably is the most dangerous element for us in terms of COVID,” said Kristina Darnauer, a family practice doctor in Sterling. “It potentially brings back students from all over the US who have variable levels of exposure.”Darnauer is torn. She loves Sterling, loves the college, and fully appreciates how important it is to the school and the town that college ramp almost as normal this fall.But she’s got patients to care for. And she said this county, with only one hospital and no intensive care unit is not ready for a cluster of coronavirus cases.“If we have a huge outbreak,” Darnauer said, “we’re going to be out of resources very quickly.”Small colleges and college towns across much of the country face the same worries.But some analysts say that a pruning of universities may prove inevitable, and that the coronavirus has only sped up the thinning of the higher education herd.“I actually see the future of higher education, broadly speaking, as entering a new golden age,” said Richard Price, a research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. It’s a think tank that presses for dramatic change in institutions.Price said the pandemic may hasten the evolution to better online classes, and a public education system that’s much more accessible and equitable.“The traditional model, it was originally for the landed elite and it wasn’t for all genders,” Price said. “It wasn’t for all races. And that is slowly getting phased out along with some older business models that aren’t pivoting well.”And Price thinks many little colleges will adapt. Lots of them have cheated death before. But he said there’s little doubt that this time next year the United States will have many fewer colleges. Folks in Sterling Kansas hope and, yes, pray, that Sterling College is among the survivors.8:30 a.m. — New numbers indicate there were 72 new reported cases of COVID-19 in the Kansas City metro area on Sunday. That number is – by far – the lowest daily reported number since the start of the month. 8:15 a.m. — If you live in Kansas City, including in Clay or Jackson County, you can get a COVID-19 test this week for free. Monday’s tests are available at Southeast High School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Tuesday, testing is available at Trailwoods Elementary and Independence Boulevard Church. Wednesday tests are at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, and then Thursday tests are at Holy Cross Catholic School. Health officials say you do not have to be showing symptoms to get tested.8 a.m. — Johnson County reported Monday morning 5,800 positive cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started. The county said it has 3,435 presumed recoveries and 103 people have died since the start of the outbreak. It also has tested 82,630 people with 78,126 negative tests for an overall positive test rate of 7%. The county said it has tested 137.1 people per 1,000 in the county. The county said it is monitoring 14 outbreaks at senior living care facilities. Johnson County health officials lost access to hospital bed utilization in June and has not reported those numbers since June 19.7:45 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting 4,895 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 42 (+0) patients currently hospitalized and 105 (+2) probable cases. The county said 99 people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, and 1,365 people are presumed recovered. The 66102 ZIP code is the most impacted area of the county with 1,323 cases, followed by the 66104 ZIP code with 819 and 66106 with 602. 7:30 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people that have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Monday morning, there have been 19,071 people that have recovered from the coronavirus. This includes 1,365 in Wyandotte County, 3,435 in Johnson County, 1,337 in Leavenworth County and 625 in Douglas County. 6 a.m. — Free coronavirus testing is available this week in Wyandotte County. The health department is hosting five events this week in Kansas City, Kansas from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday’s testing is at Oak Ridge Baptist Church. Tuesday’s event is at All Saints Parish, followed by testing Wednesday at Zotung Christian Church and then Thursday at Quindaro Community Center.[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ][ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]The Associated Press contributed to this story.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —

Kansas City metro area health officials are grappling with how to handle continuing case count increases after reopening businesses more than a month ago.



What you need to know:

  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday the state has 31,730 cases confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been 387 deaths since the outbreak started. Kansas is now only updating COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Monday that 1,307 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the state and there are 59,954 confirmed cases since the outbreak started.

TUESDAY

9 a.m. — Although most everything remains up in the air with college football, there likely won’t be any college games at Arrowhead Stadium this season.

Missouri and Arkansas were set to meet at Arrowhead in November, but that game has been canceled as part of the Southeastern Conference’s s new 10-game all-conference format announced last week.

But that news has become a relatively minor development in the past few days, as there has been plenty of speculation about the future of college football.

There were reports Monday morning that two of the Power 5 conferences – the Big Ten and the Pac 12 – had decided to cancel or shift its football seasons to the spring. But then conference officials said nothing has been decided. Both conferences have scheduled meetings for Tuesday morning, where formal votes are expected on how to move forward.

The Big 12 leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday, although no decisions are expected to be made. The ACC and SEC are reportedly moving forward with plans to play this fall, but that could change if other Power 5 conferences decide to pull the plug.

8 a.m. — Johnson County reported Tuesday morning 5,869 (+69) positive cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started. The county said it has 3,509 presumed recoveries and 105 (+2) people have died since the start of the outbreak. It also has tested 83,519 people with 78,964 negative tests for an overall positive test rate of 7.1%. The county said it has tested 138.6 people per 1,000 in the county.

The county said it is monitoring 14 outbreaks at senior living care facilities, which is the same as Monday’s report. Johnson County health officials lost access to hospital bed utilization in June and has not reported those numbers since June 19.

7:45 a.m.— Wyandotte County is reporting 4,914 (+14) confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 42 (+0) patients currently hospitalized and 107 (+2) probable cases. The county said 99 (+0) people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, and 1,382 people are presumed recovered. The 66102 ZIP code is the most impacted area of the county with 1,328 cases, followed by the 66104 ZIP code with 823 and 66106 with 605. Wyandotte County does not list hospital capacity numbers on its dashboard.

7:30 a.m.— The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people that have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Tuesday morning, there have been 19,584 people that have recovered from the coronavirus. This includes 1,374 in Wyandotte County, 3,509 in Johnson County, 1,352 in Leavenworth County and 647 in Douglas County.

6:30 a.m. — A Republican leader in the Kansas Legislature is accusing Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s top public health administrator of using a misleading presentation to bolster their argument for requiring people to wear masks in public.

House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins’ criticism Monday came as a debate raged over imposing mandates to get the coronavirus under control. Hawkins’ criticism of Dr. Lee Norman came after the CEO of the small-government, free-market think tank suggested that Norman had “doctored” a chart used in a news conference last week. READ MORE

6 a.m. — After pushing back the start days for schools, the Raytown, Missouri School District board of education voted Monday night to push back the return to school buildings for another month.

Last month the district announced plans to push back the start of school until after Labor Day and stated that at least the first two weeks of school would be done online only through distance learning. The district originally said online learning would continue until at least Sept. 22.

On Monday night, the district announced plans to push that date back again. READ MORE


[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]


MONDAY

10:30 p.m.

Raytown school board

2:30 p.m. — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,027 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 59,954 since the start of the outbreak.

There have now been 1,307 deaths across Missouri from COVID-19.

Health officials said 923 patients have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Due to a change in data measures and the reporting platform issued by the White House on July 13, data on hospitalization reflects a 72-hour delay.

The state of Missouri does not list how many people have recovered from COVID-19.

[ MISSOURI COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

The state said it has tested a total of 769,918 people through PCR testing – a test that looks for the virus in the nose, throat or other areas of the respiratory tract to determine if there is an active infection – and 7.5% of those were positive. The seven-day percent positive of PCR tested individuals is 10.8%

The state said it has tested 62,414 through serology testing – a test that looks for antibodies in the blood – and 3.8% of those were positive.

The DHSS reports 6,648 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kansas City, Missouri, while Jackson County now has 4,014 cases since the outbreak started. Health officials said there have been 63 deaths in Kansas City, and Jackson County reports 52 total.

The state also lists 1,037 total cases in Clay County (outside of Kansas City), 742 in Cass County and 363 in Platte County.

1:15 p.m. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported an increase of 1,092 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its first update since Friday to push the statewide total to 31,730 since the outbreak started.

DHE officials said the death total grew by seven on Monday to 387, and the average median age of the deaths is 78.

Health officials said Monday that 1,911 (+90) patients have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak, 534 (+8) were admitted to the ICU, 194 (+1) required mechanical ventilation and 1,319 (+26) patients have been discharged. The state also said it has 47% of its ICU beds available and 84% of its ventilators available.

The state said it has tested 326,669 people with 294,939 negative test results, an overall positive test rate of 9.7%, and it is testing 112.13 per 1,000 people in Kansas.

[ KANSAS COVID-19 COVID-19 DASHBOARD ]

Johnson County continues to have the most confirmed cases in Kansas with 5,913. Sedgwick County – where Wichita is located – is now the county with the second most cases with 5,207. Wyandotte County is third with 5,063 cases.

Leavenworth County – home to Lansing Correctional Facility – has 1,513 cases, and Douglas County now reports 746.

Health officials said the median age of people with COVID-19 is 37, and they are monitoring 119 (-31) active outbreak clusters.

The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Monday afternoon, there have been 19,172 people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

11 a.m. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday she was concerned about schools opening throughout the Sunflower State after a new report indicates more than 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July.

The report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association said in those two weeks, there was a 40% increase in child cases across the states and cities that were studied. READ MORE

Gov. Laura Kelly

9 a.m. — There’s a lot riding on a kickoff set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

The Sterling College Warriors are scheduled to take on the McPherson College Bulldogs at home. If that familiar thud of shoe against football and cheer from the stands doesn’t happen, the college that keeps the central Kansas town’s economy humming, that gives it cultural vitality, and that separates Sterling from the hollowing out that defines so many other small Midwestern towns, might not survive.

The school, after 133 years, could die and doom the town that takes such pride in the football squad and embraces the student body like family.

Hundreds of small colleges dotting the country rely on students paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in exchange for a distinctive, personal, high-touch college experience.

Many of those colleges hung on year-to-year even before the pandemic. Now COVID-19 threatens to cut off the oxygen sustaining these schools, and the sports programs that drive enrollment, KCUR-FM reports.

But the very thing small colleges need to stay afloat – students coming in, spending money, playing sports – also poses a major risk to relatively isolated little towns that, so far, have dodged major coronavirus outbreaks.

Only about 2,200 people live in Sterling out on the flat, flat plains of south-central Kansas. But this small city boasts an almost idyllic downtown. New office buildings. Two good coffee shops. A nice grocery store, a bowling alley, you name it.

Sterling has good schools, competitive sports teams. Locals say school plays, games and concerts draw big crowds. Without the college, the money, diversity and energy that defines life in Sterling could evaporate quickly.

“There is just so much overlap,” said Kyler Comley, a Sterling College senior who’s lived in the town all his life. “The community supports the college. The college supports the community. You know, you just see how everything’s intertwined and how people are just so overly giving and involved.”

Every student attending Sterling College gets paired with a family in town. Those families speak endearingly about their adopted scholars.

The students left in March. Most haven’t come back. Like many people here, Sterling criminal justice professor Mark Tremaine said that starting classes up again in person this month is make or break for Sterling College.

“The bottom line is, we’ve got to get students back to campus. If we’re going to survive,” he said.“We have to accept whatever the risks are and do it.”

And that’s the plan. Sterling doesn’t have much of a choice.

“We have committed to open up in the fall,” Sterling College President Scott Rich said. “With face to face classes, face-to-face coursework, dorms and activities and full swing. But we’re committed to doing it safely.”

Rich said the school will quarantine students coming back to the dorms, test them liberally, and isolate those who come down sick in local hotels.

Rich said the freshman class looks strong, with about 200 new students. But he is desperately trying to woo 50 or so upperclassmen who haven’t signed on this year. The school needs them because, like many other small institutions, Sterling College scrapes by from year to year.

“We’re always dependent upon enrollment, always dependent upon that next year, always dependent upon persistence or retention,” Rich said. “We have to get students to come back.”

Other small-town schools across the country, and the communities tied to their fate, face the same existential crisis.

“Some of the people I know are looking at hundreds of colleges going out of business within the next several years, if this pandemic continues and if the economic devastation associated with it continues,” said Scott Carlson with the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Small liberal arts colleges have been shaky for years. Enrollments have slumped, endowments have been drained. Many schools have piled on debt in a building boom fueled by competition for students.

Most offer courses online, but online classes don’t pay the bills. Small schools survive only by providing an expensive, in-person college experience. And Carlson said the pandemic shreds that business model, and threatens to trigger the higher education equivalent of a mass extinction.

“It’s kind of sad,” he said. “These colleges are unique, little entities all on their own, and each one of them provides a unique spin on higher education.”

Sterling College, for instance, leans heavily on a particular interpretation of Christianity. Guarding the front door of the classic, old limestone building that anchors campus is a statue of Christ – not being tortured on the cross, but humbly washing the feet of a disciple. “Servant leadership,” as anyone here will tell you, guides the campus ethic.

But Jesus doesn’t keep the lights on here. Football does.

“We do have a good football team,” said Sterling’s athletic director, Scott Downing. “They’ve been fairly successful the last dozen years and been to the national playoffs, won the conference championship.”

The team helps bring the students together, but more importantly, it drives enrollment.

“With a football team number of about 125 to 135 student-athletes, quite a bit of our student body is involved in that sport,” Downing said.

That’s an understatement. There are only about 500 students on campus in a given year, one in four is on the football team. And there are 20 other sports.

The chance to play college sports is a major selling point for schools like Sterling. It drives enrollment. But in a pandemic, sports can be vectors for disease. And Jed Miller, who’s finishing his degree at Sterling online next year, says that’s another vulnerability.

“If COVID defeats the athletic season this year, it will probably defeat a lot of small colleges,” he said. “And as a result, hurt a lot of small towns … badly.”

So, the same colleges that keep some small towns vibrant now pose a particular threat to public health.

“The college probably is the most dangerous element for us in terms of COVID,” said Kristina Darnauer, a family practice doctor in Sterling. “It potentially brings back students from all over the US who have variable levels of exposure.”

Darnauer is torn. She loves Sterling, loves the college, and fully appreciates how important it is to the school and the town that college ramp almost as normal this fall.

But she’s got patients to care for. And she said this county, with only one hospital and no intensive care unit is not ready for a cluster of coronavirus cases.

“If we have a huge outbreak,” Darnauer said, “we’re going to be out of resources very quickly.”

Small colleges and college towns across much of the country face the same worries.

But some analysts say that a pruning of universities may prove inevitable, and that the coronavirus has only sped up the thinning of the higher education herd.

“I actually see the future of higher education, broadly speaking, as entering a new golden age,” said Richard Price, a research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. It’s a think tank that presses for dramatic change in institutions.

Price said the pandemic may hasten the evolution to better online classes, and a public education system that’s much more accessible and equitable.

“The traditional model, it was originally for the landed elite and it wasn’t for all genders,” Price said. “It wasn’t for all races. And that is slowly getting phased out along with some older business models that aren’t pivoting well.”

And Price thinks many little colleges will adapt. Lots of them have cheated death before. But he said there’s little doubt that this time next year the United States will have many fewer colleges. Folks in Sterling Kansas hope and, yes, pray, that Sterling College is among the survivors.

8:30 a.m. — New numbers indicate there were 72 new reported cases of COVID-19 in the Kansas City metro area on Sunday. That number is – by far – the lowest daily reported number since the start of the month.

8:15 a.m. — If you live in Kansas City, including in Clay or Jackson County, you can get a COVID-19 test this week for free. Monday’s tests are available at Southeast High School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Tuesday, testing is available at Trailwoods Elementary and Independence Boulevard Church. Wednesday tests are at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, and then Thursday tests are at Holy Cross Catholic School. Health officials say you do not have to be showing symptoms to get tested.

8 a.m. — Johnson County reported Monday morning 5,800 positive cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started. The county said it has 3,435 presumed recoveries and 103 people have died since the start of the outbreak. It also has tested 82,630 people with 78,126 negative tests for an overall positive test rate of 7%. The county said it has tested 137.1 people per 1,000 in the county.

The county said it is monitoring 14 outbreaks at senior living care facilities. Johnson County health officials lost access to hospital bed utilization in June and has not reported those numbers since June 19.

7:45 a.m. — Wyandotte County is reporting 4,895 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak started, with 42 (+0) patients currently hospitalized and 105 (+2) probable cases. The county said 99 people have died from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, and 1,365 people are presumed recovered. The 66102 ZIP code is the most impacted area of the county with 1,323 cases, followed by the 66104 ZIP code with 819 and 66106 with 602.

7:30 a.m. — The state of Kansas isn’t officially listing the number of people that have recovered from COVID-19, but local health departments across the state are keeping track. According to numbers from Monday morning, there have been 19,071 people that have recovered from the coronavirus. This includes 1,365 in Wyandotte County, 3,435 in Johnson County, 1,337 in Leavenworth County and 625 in Douglas County.

6 a.m. — Free coronavirus testing is available this week in Wyandotte County. The health department is hosting five events this week in Kansas City, Kansas from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday’s testing is at Oak Ridge Baptist Church. Tuesday’s event is at All Saints Parish, followed by testing Wednesday at Zotung Christian Church and then Thursday at Quindaro Community Center.


[ CLICK HERE FOR MAPS OF COVID-19 CASES BY COUNTY IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]

[ TRACKING COVID-19 CURVE OF CASES, DEATHS IN KANSAS & MISSOURI ]


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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