Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.

Facing financial strain, Saint Francis Ministries shuts down services for refugees

By: - December 3, 2020

TOPEKA — Saint Francis Ministries is eliminating its support network for refugees in Kansas, citing financial strains within the organization and a desire to focus resources on foster care services. Employees learned of the decision on Nov. 20, a day after the organization fired top leadership at the conclusion of an investigation into undisclosed mismanagement […]

Gov. Laura Kelly said initial COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be dedicated to medical personnel working with high-risk coronavirus patients and the vulnerable residents of nursing homes before turning to Phase 2 recipients above the age of 65 and people in lowe-risk health care jobs. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Gov. Kelly to direct December vaccine supply at COVID-19 health workers, nursing home residents

By: and - December 2, 2020

KDHE says number of Kansas who died with COVID-19 grew by 119 since Monday, bringing state's pandemic death toll in November closer to 700.

The Kansas Department of Corrections says a 12th inmate incarcerated in state prison facilities died of COVID-19. The latest was a 62-year-old man at Hutchinson Correctional Facility. (Getty Images)

Detainees say private prison denies COVID-19 tests, treatment while awaiting trial

By: - November 30, 2020

TOPEKA — People awaiting trial at CoreCivic’s Leavenworth prison for federal detainees say the private company has failed to provide adequate testing or medical care amid an “uncontrolled outbreak” of COVID-19. First-person accounts and court documents reveal the facility’s staff hasn’t provided testing for detainees who were exposed to the virus and in some cases […]

Kansas adds 177 deaths in one week; health officials wary of Thanksgiving gatherings

By: - November 25, 2020

TOPEKA — The Kansas Department for Health and Environment said Wednesday that 47 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported since Monday, pushing the pandemic’s death toll in the state above 1,500. Health officials are worried the radical acceleration in deaths and infections across Kansas will be amplified further by Thanksgiving gatherings, exacerbating the strain on […]

One Kansas tradition goes on as usual this year — Bess and Betty do their job

By: - November 24, 2020

CEDAR CREST — Bess and Betty stamped and snorted Tuesday morning in the guest parking lot of the governor’s mansion, where for 40 minutes they waited patiently and sometimes impatiently in fur-ruffling wind under a dapple-gray sky for the show to start. By the time they put the replica 1880 hayrack in motion, they were […]

Kansas Chamber, hospitals make plea for voluntary mask use

By: - November 23, 2020

TOPEKA — Groups representing Kansas businesses and health care providers launched a campaign Monday to convince Kansans to adhere to public health guidelines and mandates by appealing to their sense of personal responsibility. The marketing effort complements the drumbeat of pleadings by Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration on the importance of wearing a face […]

CDC publishes research showing Kansas mask mandates helped drive down COVID-19 infections

By: - November 20, 2020

TOPEKA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published new research with input from Kansas health officials that reaffirms mask mandates helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s largest counties. The study separately examines trends in 25 counties that did not oppose Gov. Laura Kelly’s July 3 recommendation to wear masks […]

Foster care provider removes top leaders after investigation into mismanagement

By: - November 19, 2020

TOPEKA — The largest foster care provider for Kansas has removed its top two leaders following an investigation into alleged mismanagement, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families was reviewing the situation to determine whether state resources were properly handled. Saint Francis Ministries informed staff Thursday that the Rev. Robert Smith and CEO Tom Blythe […]

The Kansas Department of Corrections led by secretary Jeff Zmuda says a fifth inmate who contracted COVID-19 has died. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Department of Corrections reports 11th inmate death from COVID-19

By: - November 18, 2020

TOPEKA — An 81-year-old inmate of the state-run prison in Lansing has died from COVID-19. He is the 11th person to die from COVID-19 while in state custody and the fifth at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Carol Pitts, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said the man was transported to a hospital after […]

Gov. Laura Kelly issues new statewide mask mandate, adding teeth to anti-coronavirus directive

By: and - November 18, 2020

Gov. Laura Kelly issues executive order mandating wearing off masks in Kansas that requires county officials to take a public vote to opt out.

White House task force assessment of COVID-19 in Kansas: ‘exponential and unyielding spread’

By: and - November 18, 2020

TOPEKA — Republican Rep. John Eplee wishes he could turn the clock back 10 months and beg for national guidance on a pandemic that has killed more than 1,100 Kansans and threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Eplee, a family physician at Amberwell Health hospital in Atchison, says he is “just trying to survive” until he can […]

The Kansas Department of Corrections led by secretary Jeff Zmuda says a fifth inmate who contracted COVID-19 has died. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Department of Corrections reports 10th inmate death from COVID-19

By: - November 17, 2020

TOPEKA — An inmate at the state-run prison in Ellsworth died Sunday after contracting COVID-19. The 68-year-old man is the 10th inmate in state custody to die from the virus, and the third from the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Carol Pitts, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said the man had been transported on […]