Today’s Headlines: Parents struggle to get home nurses for medically fragile kids amid pandemic

Amber Suarez sits with her 3-year-old daughter Mia, who needs the care of home nurses.
Amber Suarez sits with her 3-year-old daughter Mia, who needs the care of home nurses. During the pandemic, those nurses have been harder to find and keep.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, Feb. 7, and we’re less than a week away from the Super Bowl. But you can get your football fix early at the NFL Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Visitors can collect autographs and take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, among other things.

The Times’ Mark E. Potts recently visited this “Disneyland for football fans” to test his athletic skills in the hopes of being the NFL’s next star. But, as you can see in this video, he quickly discovered that being a pro athlete is easier said than done.


Here’s everything else you shouldn’t miss today:


Parents struggle to get home nurses for medically fragile kids

Families in California have long struggled to get nursing care at home for medically fragile children. Even after doctors have deemed home care necessary to keep their kids healthy and safe, many Californians have been unable to secure enough nurses to fill their allocated hours.

Parents and advocates say that, despite efforts to tackle the problem before the pandemic, it has persisted with the arrival of COVID-19. Home health agencies say it has been harder to hang on to nurses when other businesses are recruiting them to handle new demands tied to the coronavirus, including administering tests and vaccines.

“COVID didn’t create a problem that wasn’t there,” said Jennifer McLelland, a member of the advocacy group Little Lobbyists. “COVID just made everything worse.”

More top coronavirus headlines

  • At Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, COVID-19 patients are still streaming into a facility that is already well over capacity. Staffing shortages have contributed to fatigue as workers take on ever more patients.
  • The Times reviewed thousands of records related to religious waivers from vaccine rules in California. The documents reveal a cottage industry that has sprung up to help people justify decisions to refuse vaccination.
  • Researchers have developed a clutch of lifesaving treatments that reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 by as much as 89%. But there aren’t nearly enough of the new drugs to go around.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.


Mayor Garcetti’s former top spokeswoman wants him charged with perjury

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s onetime chief spokeswoman has filed a complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors, demanding that he be prosecuted for perjury for lying and conspiring with top staffers to cover up multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Rick Jacobs, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff.

Naomi Seligman said she hopes the 31-page letter sent on her behalf by a nonprofit law firm will also cause the U.S. Senate to block Garcetti’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador to India.

Jacobs has repeatedly denied that he sexually harassed anyone when he worked as one of Garcetti’s top aides and political advisors, claims that became public in 2020 in a lawsuit filed by a former member of the mayor’s LAPD security detail. Garcetti has said he knew nothing of the accusations until the lawsuit became public.

More politics

  • White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said Russia could invade Ukraine “any day,” launching a conflict that would come at an “enormous human cost.”
  • Vice President Kamala Harris has faced outsized expectations and scrutiny. Combined with some well-publicized gaffes and high staff turnover, it was all a recipe for a rough first year.

Get the lowdown on L.A. politics. In this pivotal election year, we’ll break down the ballot and tell you why it matters in our L.A. on the Record newsletter. Sign up here.


Should Vicente Fernández get a street in Boyle Heights? The question exposes a divided legacy

Bailey Street passes Mariachi Plaza, where mariachis hang out looking to be hired, before dead-ending at White Memorial hospital. A proposal to rename the block after the legendary Mexican ranchera singer Vicente Fernández, who died in December at age 81, has run into opposition from residents and activists who cite his homophobic remarks and allegations that he sexually harassed a woman.

The divides exposed by Fernández’s death are already familiar to those hashing out differences over issues like vaccinations, the term “Latinx” and how much to call out the behavior of elders steeped in old school machismo culture. How to memorialize Chente, flaws and all, is the latest manifestation of a fraught generational and ideological debate among Latinos.

Frigid Beijing area temperatures ramp up efforts by cold-tested Olympians to keep warm

Much has been made of the dry winters in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, the areas northwest of Beijing where ski and snowboard events are being held. Olympic organizers have needed to blow artificial snow day and night to compensate for a lack of the real stuff. But subzero temperatures? Bone-chilling gusts? The Beijing Games have no shortage of those.

With temperatures dipping toward zero and winds gusting to 40 mph at some venues, the art of keeping warm has been a popular topic of discussion. That might seem like no big deal for winter athletes, but it is. Dressing in layers — the standard approach to staying comfortable — doesn’t always go far enough on brutal days when the wind cuts through even the best technical gear.


More Winter Olympics 2022

Why are celebrities buying million-dollar ape cartoons?

Video clips of basketball highlights. Cartoons of apes, cats, frogs and hipsters. These are just a few examples of the digital collectibles sold as non-fungible tokens, many at forehead-slapping prices. NFTs have become a hot commodity among crypto investors and celebrities, causing some critics to wonder about the financial interests being served.

NFTs work much like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but with a key difference: Each NFT is unique and indivisible. That allows them to serve as proof of ownership for items that may themselves be easily copied and shared online.

Our daily news podcast

If you’re a fan of this newsletter, you’ll love our daily podcast “The Times,” hosted every weekday by columnist Gustavo Arellano, along with reporters from across our newsroom. Go beyond the headlines. Download and listen on our App, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.


Under threat of a Russian invasion, Kyiv shrugs — and prepares for war. Plenty of residents of Kyiv don’t seem to think their capital is on borrowed time, but some are girding for a potential Russian invasion anyway.


California‘s attorney general accuses a wealthy town of using mountain lions to skirt an affordable housing law. Woodside announced last month in a memo to its 5,500 residents that because the entire town was a habitat for the potentially endangered mountain lion, it was exempt from a new law that permits duplex development on single-family home lots.

CSU trustee chair moves to open an investigation into chancellor’s handling of sex abuse claims. While Fresno State president, Chancellor Joseph I. Castro OKd a payout for a university vice president after evidence backed up claims against the administrator.


Jason Sodenkamp scales a rugged slope of turf
Jason Sodenkamp, a case manager for Community Health Project L.A., scales a rugged slope of turf that overlooks the 101 Freeway in search of a homeless client in Hollywood.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Case managers work to keep drug users healthier, safer and free. Under the LEAD program, case managers meet regularly with people who have repeatedly tangled with the criminal justice system due to minor drug offenses or sex work — or are at risk of doing so.

Santa Ana winds trigger a high wind warning in Southern California mountains and valleys. Cold winds blowing from the northeast with gusts of up to 60 mph in the Santa Monica Mountains and some inland areas of Los Angeles County are expected to peak by 2 p.m. today.

A federal women’s prison in California fostered a culture of abuse, inmates say. They say they have been subjected to rampant sexual abuse by correctional officers and even the warden, and were often threatened or punished when they tried to speak up.


A fire at a historic Watts church is under investigation. The fire at St. John’s United Methodist Church in the 1700 block of Santa Ana Boulevard started about 11:20 a.m. Saturday in vegetation outside the church before spreading inside the two-story house of worship.

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War-torn Sierra Leone rebuilds, sacrificing its only protection against sea level rise. Two decades after a brutal civil war destroyed much of the country, roads are being paved and extended as houses, hotels and restaurants seem to be going up everywhere. None of it would be possible without sand. But the boundless extraction of sand has come at a steep price.

Former President Trump’s tirade on ‘racist’ prosecutors echoes other racist tropes. The comments carry the echoes of racist messages that have proliferated in recent years — that Black people and other minorities are taking power, and that they will exact revenge on white people, or at the very least treat white people as they have been treated.


Dwayne Johnson calls his Joe Rogan support a ‘learning moment’ after N-word footage. The movie star said he was “not aware” of Rogan’s history of using the racist slur when he publicly praised Rogan’s response to the growing Spotify boycott last month.

The hit and the flop that knocked ‘Spider-Man’ off his box office perch. Paramount Pictures’ “Jackass Forever” and Lionsgate’s “Moonfall” nabbed the top two spots at the domestic box office this weekend, grossing $23.5 million and $10 million, respectively.


Amazon’s new doc is an inspirational oral history of L.A.’s Black comedy scene. “Phat Tuesdays” tells the story of the weekly show that brought Black comedy and Black audiences to Hollywood and the Comedy Store, from 1995 to 2005, as well as what came before and what’s come after.

Why the Cherokee Nation is offering rebates to film in Oklahoma. The state is not a big destination for Hollywood productions. But its film business has been growing rapidly in recent years as it has beefed up its incentives.


Peloton is an acquisition target. Who might buy it? The companies said to be taking a look at Peloton — whether for an acquisition, an investment or some other kind of tie-up — include some of the biggest names in technology and fitness.

Kaiser Permanente gets a special healthcare deal with California. Are Medicaid reforms in jeopardy? Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has negotiated a secret deal to give Kaiser Permanente a special Medicaid contract that would allow the healthcare behemoth to expand its reach in California and largely continue selecting the enrollees it wants.


Welcome back, Super Bowl. L.A. is where you belong. The annual championship game is finally back where it belongs to be played in Los Angeles. Its birthplace and other memorable moments, writes columnist Bill Plaschke.

A trio of Rams players remembers the transition from St. Louis to L.A. Johnny Hekker, Aaron Donald and Rob Havenstein have played pivotal roles for the Rams throughout their careers, and all will be in the starting lineup when the Rams play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium next Sunday.


UCLA’s season won’t end as it envisioned without reversing its desert doldrums. It’s still early February, and it’s only two losses. But if the third-ranked Bruins can’t solve the issues that stung like a desert scorpion during these setbacks against Arizona and Arizona State, they might not make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

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Voters wanted big change from Measure J. Why hasn’t L.A. seen it yet? The popular measure for alternatives to incarceration faced a setback last July when L.A. Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel ruled it to be unconstitutional, declaring that putting the issue to voters undermined the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ authority to set its budget.

Gov. Newsom deserves credit and criticism for his effort to shut down death row. The Democrat deserves credit for having the guts to follow his conscience and stand firmly against the death penalty. But he also deserves criticism for acting against the voters’ wishes, writes columnist George Skelton.


An illustration of flowers inside of an outline of the state of California.
(Illustration by Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

You might be too late to book the Valentine’s Day getaway that you and yours might be really, really ready for. But no need to worry. We’re here to help.


Here are the makings of 10 romantic splurges from San Diego’s Kona Kai Resort and Spa to San Francisco’s Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. Some are expensive enough to deeply test the depths of your affection and/or bank account. Some are on the rustic side (adventure yurt, anyone?)

All have a memorable sense of place, with privacy. And for all, there is also a suggested outing.


Patty Hearst in handcuffs, escorted by two women
Patty Hearst in handcuffs, escorted by two women at the inmate entrance of the Criminal Court Building in Los Angeles in 1976.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

Forty-eight years ago this month, newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by a group of 1970s radicals, the Symbionese Liberation Army. She was 19.

Two months after her capture, Hearst announced her solidarity with her captors, and her new nom de guerre, Tania. She would live with them, helping to carry out two bank robberies and participating in one intense L.A. shootout, until her arrest in September 1975.

In 1976, Hearst was convicted of federal bank robbery charges. She was released from prison in 1979 after having served 22 months. She and her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, were married two months later.

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