Active cases at reentry center

While many cases of COVID-19 have been reported among inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility, another famous prison in Leavenworth County reports no inmate cases.

But there are active inmate cases at a reentry center in Leavenworth, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Monday there have been 937 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Leavenworth County.

As of press time, the Leavenworth County Health Department had not released its updated figures since Sunday. But on Sunday, the local Health Department reported that at least 737 of the confirmed cases in Leavenworth County involve inmates at LCF.

Leavenworth County also is home to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth. The USP is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

A BOP website indicates one staff member at the USP has recovered from COVID-19. But no other cases of the coronavirus are listed for the federal prison in Leavenworth.

The BOP website reported on Monday that there are 23 active cases among federal inmates at a reentry facility in Leavenworth known as the Grossman Center.

Leavenworth County Sheriff Andy Dedeke said Monday there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Leavenworth County Jail. He said the Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, has taken extraordinary measures in an attempt to prevent people from being infected with the coronavirus at the jail.

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the Linn County health director and the Linn County Commission concerning an order issued earlier this month that reportedly requires many businesses in the county to record information about customers. Businesses are being asked to collect this information to help locate people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two business owners who argue the order violates their constitutional rights, according to a news release from the Kansas Justice Institute, which is involved in the lawsuit.

The Kansas Justice Institute is a subsidiary of the Kansas Policy Institute.

In Leavenworth County, Health Officer Jamie Miller has issued a guidance plan to accompany a state plan for gradually easing restrictions related to COVID-19.

The plan issued by Miller states a "Visitor(s) or customer log should be kept to aid in contact tracing." But while Miller encourages business owners to keep such a log, he has said this is voluntary in Leavenworth County and not mandatory.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Monday that his office will be providing a legal opinion as to whether a state law authorizing criminal prosecution of Kansans who violate emergency orders issued by the governor is constitutional and enforceable.

Schmidt said in a news release that a prosecuting attorney in the state has asked his office to review the matter.

"The Kansas constitution grants the legislature, not the governor, power to define what behavior may subject Kansans to potential arrest, criminal prosecution, fines or imprisonment," Schmidt said in a news release. "No appellate court has determined whether the legislature, through provisions of the Kansas Emergency Management Act, has lawfully delegated that power to the governor."

Schmidt said his office will issue a formal legal opinion as soon as possible.

On Monday, officials with the University of Saint Mary announced the Leavenworth institution will reopen in the fall for face-to-face classes and activities.

Like other schools in the state, USM has been closed since March because of concerns about the coronavirus. Remote instruction has been used to complete the academic year.

According to a news release from John Shultz, USM’s vice president for marketing and admissions, Saint Mary officials will work closely with local and state health officials and follow guidelines as appropriate.

"Saint Mary is a strong community, and we are strongest when we are together," University President Diane Steele said in a news release. "We will continue to plan for our shared future while doing our best both to ensure safety and provide our students with the best possible experiences and opportunities."

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR