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‘Let them Play’ rallies for prep athletes held across state, including one near St. John Bosco

Sorry – research shows that high school students just as likely to pass on disease with no symptoms as anyone one else. If you can test several times a week ok – otherwise to ensure their safety, your staff’s safety and their parents – no sports until everyone is vaccinated.

High school athletes want to compete, but state guidelines brought on by the long-running coronavirus pandemic have prevented them from doing that. As a result, “Let Them Play CA” rallies took place across the state at 4 p.m. Friday.

The goal is for the state to ease restrictions so high school sports can resume.

A list compiled of these parent-driven events showed rallies were scheduled at about 140 spots. Among them was one across the street from St. John Bosco High — home of the defending national football champion — as well as Alhambra High, the city of La Verne (San Dimas HS, Glendora HS, Claremont HS), Palos Verdes (Peninsula HS, Palos Verdes HS), schools belonging to Whittier Union High School District as well as Blair High in Pasadena. (One planned in Whittier fizzled out, with only three people attending).

  • Chris Serna, left, with his son, Daniel, 18, center, and teammate Noah Farmer, 17, from Santa Fe High School stand in the parking lot of the Whittier Union High School District office where a “Let Them Play” rally was supposed to take place on Friday Jan. 15, 2021. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

  • St. John Bosco parents rally across the street from the school during football practice bringing attention to their plight for the kids to play games in Bellflower on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. The kids have been practicing and the parents want them to be able to play games. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

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  • Karl Lutke, a father of a St. John Bosco football player, stands across the street from the school during practice bringing attention to their plight for the kids to play games
    in Bellflower on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Parents used to gather in the school parking lot during practice but due to pandemic they are socially distanced in the lot across the street. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

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Some prep sports at one point were to start in December with football beginning Jan. 8. That did not happen, no thanks to the rise in coronavirus numbers. The new earliest start date is Jan. 25, but there is no guarantee that’ll happen.

Parents are taking action. Karl Lutke, whose son Mark is an offensive lineman at St. John Bosco, organized that rally.

“The data is there,” he said. “Many states have played without incident. Let the coaches and administrators do what they need to do to make sure this is safe, right? No one’s asking, ‘Hey, parents need to be in the stands,’ or anything like that.”

Concern about the psyche of high school athletes is there.

“Really, it’s the health and welfare of our student-athletes. We were both at that age — would you want to be stuck?” Lutke asked a reporter during a telephone interview. “They’re not going to school on campus. You want to be stuck not being able to do what you love? It hurts.

“These kids, the competition and everything is important. But I think it’s also their welfare. Look at the studies that are showing depression, look at the meds that are being prescribed, look at the suicides. Look at these things that are keeping our kids locked up this; this doesn’t need to happen.”

St. John Bosco football coach Jason Negro supports these rallies.

“I think this parent-led movement is noble and shows how much passion parents have for their child’s mental and physical well-being,” he said. “Youth sports have been shut down since March and it’s apparent that parents are feeling fatigue and want some answers from the state.”

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Negro’s feelings as a father don’t change his thinking.

“Speaking as a parent of a senior and freshman of my own who participate in song at Edison High, I fully support this movement and back both my daughters’ request to be able to compete and enjoy their high school experience,” he said.

“It’s time to give the kids a chance. The state has yet to do that.”

Peninsula football coach David Young did not attend the rally in Palos Verdes, but he said he understands the difficulty of the situation.

“It has been a big challenge, but I have to give my athletes credit because they keep coming back every day,” he said. “I haven’t made any promises, but they’re coming back because if there is something (a season), they know they have to be prepared. Hopefully, we will be able to compete a little.”

Negro provided California high school football workout COVID data compiled by the Golden State HS Football Coaches Community. Its data shows that of the 19,630 athletes checked, there were 522 reports of positive COVID-19 tests — less than 3%. Of those, only nine were attributed to on-campus workouts, which by and large have been mostly noncontact.

Of 2,897 coaches checked, there were 187 reports of COVID-19, but only two positive cases came from on-campus workouts, according to the data.

Long Beach Poly senior quarterback Shea Kuykendall, who said he would attend a rally at either St. John Bosco or in Palos Verdes, shared his thoughts on this movement.

“I am so thankful coaches and families care enough about us to hold rallies that support every kid and every school,” he said. “I pray our governor will help us find a way to play. A great deal of other states have played safely and I believe we can as well.

“Thousands of high school football games have been played with very few cases of COVID. The pandemic has been horrible for all ages. That will never be forgotten. Many of us are hurting and depressed and need the outlet of sports. For some it is their opportunity to a better life away from poverty and the dangers of the streets. From all I have read outdoors is where we are safest. I pray our leaders will listen.”

Lutke said he was going to take an extra 100 masks to the St. John Bosco rally and make sure everyone there wore one, and kept socially distanced.

Staff Writer Damian Calhoun contributed to this story. 

Texas lawmakers aren’t all eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. Austin’s top health official is trying to get them vaccinated anyway.

WTF – me first
The Texas House of Representatives on Jan. 13, 2021.

The Texas House of Representatives on Jan. 13, 2021.

Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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An Austin public health official working to get Texas lawmakers access to the COVID-19 vaccine — regardless of whether they are currently eligible — made a request to a local hospital to administer the shots to members gathering in the capital city for the 2021 legislative session, the official said late Friday.

In an attempt to defuse what he considers to be a public health risk to the city, Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director for Austin Public Health, told The Texas Tribune that he asked Ascension Seton hospital system “if they would be willing to vaccinate lawmakers and key staff if they had availability.”

He said he believes five to 10 legislators in both parties have taken advantage of the arrangement in recent weeks. He did not say when he made the request, how Ascension Seton responded or how lawmakers were notified.

The effort by Escott to vaccinate lawmakers was first reported in The Dallas Morning News. He told the newspaper that he made the request to the hospital to allow them access after he was unsuccessful in his attempts to convince the state to include them in the first round of Texans deemed eligible.

“I also told the State and Seton that I felt it was appropriate to include legislators in the current prioritization due to the risk to the community of this gathering and the importance of continuity of government as it pertains to the legislative session,” Escott said in an email. “I’ve been very clear about my recommendation to have legislators vaccinated.”

Ascension Seton Austin officials did not immediately return requests for comment, but told the Dallas Morning News that they agreed to allow lawmakers to sign up for the shot at Escott’s request. They said they were not reserving or holding back doses for them that would otherwise go to members of the public who are currently eligible, according to The News.

The news comes as providers are scrambling for enough vaccines to meet the demands of at least 8 million Texans who qualify for the shot. So far, the state has been allocated just over two million doses and administered more than half of them, according to state and federal numbers.

It was unclear how many of the lawmakers who got the shots also were eligible under the state’s current priority groups, who include Texans over age 65, residents of nursing homes, health care workers, and people with additional illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

An Ascension Seton spokesperson told the Morning News that most of those vaccinated were eligible under state guidelines.

The biennial session, which convenes this week, draws hundreds of lawmakers and thousands of staffers, lobbyists and advocates to Austin from around the state for 140 days, and represents the largest gathering the capital city has seen since the pandemic began.

Escott called the session a “two-fold” risk — both to public health in a city “already dealing with an unprecedented surge” and to the ability of lawmakers to govern without being crippled by quarantines, illness and the deadly effects of the virus.

“I’ve been very clear about my recommendation to have legislators vaccinated,” he said in the email.

Escott initially floated the idea during a Dec. 22 meeting with some House Democratic chiefs of staff, who were called to help identify best practices for running offices during the session, which began earlier this week.

During the call, Escott mentioned the possibility of vaccinating lawmakers and staff through Travis County once members arrived in Austin for the session and said he hoped it would become official in the coming weeks, according to a legislative aide who participated on the call but was not authorized to speak publicly.

After the call, House Democratic Caucus executive director Phillip Martin sent the city an email requesting that if and when Escott’s proposal got the green light, Austin Public Health coordinates with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to ensure “that this recommendation is out there and available to everyone …and that one staff per office should receive it as well.”

“It’s a tremendous offer and makes sense both from a continuity of governance perspective, and that the City of Austin and Travis County want to take every step to mitigate the risk presented by the Legislature convening,” Martin wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Tribune. “We just want to confirm the offer is uniformly being made to everyone, and from there each Member and staff can make a decision that is best for them.”

State Rep. Chris Turner, a Grand Prairie Democrat who chairs the caucus, told the Tribune on Friday evening he was aware that Escott had floated the idea of lawmakers and some staff receiving the vaccine during that Dec. 22 call and notified state Rep. Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican and presumptive Texas House speaker at the time, and House Administration Chair Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, of what had been said on the call.

But he said he didn’t know of anyone this week who had gotten the vaccine through the arrangement with Escott.

“In the days that followed [that call], DSHS clarified that the vaccines were to begin to be administered to the 1B group, which does cover many members of the Legislature, and I’m glad that many of those members have been able to get the first dose of their vaccine,” Turner said. “Speaking for myself, I will get my first dose of the vaccine when DSHS decides that my age group is eligible.”

The latest news comes hours after state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, told the Tribune he had tested positive for the virus Thursday after the House gaveled out for the week. Deshotel said he received a rapid test outside the Capitol as he was headed home. His last test for the virus had been on Monday before the Legislature gaveled in for the 2021 session the next day. He did not opt to receive a test before entering the Capitol on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The idea of vaccinating lawmakers has drawn support from some members, even before news that it would be available to them.

Rep. John Cyrier, R-Lockhart, a member of the Texas State Guard and thus eligible for the vaccine already, said in an interview earlier this week that he sees the need for lawmakers to be in a priority group. He had no plans yet to get the vaccine at that point, he said, and did not indicate that he knew about Escott’s efforts.

A few of his own staff members have already contracted the virus, he said, giving him a peek into what might happen if the virus were to spread among members of the House and Senate.

“Don’t you want me there for that vote?” he said, recalling a conversation he had on the issue with a skeptical constituent. “Don’t you want me there in the game for discussion and debate? How would you feel if somebody, a staffer, exposed me to it, and I need to quarantine and I wasn’t in the game? We’re required to be here to debate in person, take those votes.”

Marissa Martinez contributed to this report.

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Priti Patel under fire as 150,000 police records accidentally lost

Fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records deleted and visa system thrown into disarray

Fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records were deleted, which could allow offenders to go free because evidence from crime scenes will not be flagged on the Police National Computer (PNC).

The Home Office said it was working with police to assess the impact of the error, which reportedly occurred by accident during a weekly “weeding” session to expunge data. It said no records of criminals or dangerous persons had been deleted, and that the wiped records were those of people arrested and released when no further action was taken.

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Fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records deleted and visa system thrown into disarray

Fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records were deleted, which could allow offenders to go free because evidence from crime scenes will not be flagged on the Police National Computer (PNC).

The Home Office said it was working with police to assess the impact of the error, which reportedly occurred by accident during a weekly “weeding” session to expunge data. It said no records of criminals or dangerous persons had been deleted, and that the wiped records were those of people arrested and released when no further action was taken.

Continue reading…

Texas woman who took private plane to DC charged with participating in riot

Jenna Ryan, a real estate broker from Frisco, Texas, who took a private plane to Washington, D.C., last week, has joined those charged over the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol…

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Jenna Ryan, a real estate broker from Frisco, Texas, who took a private plane to Washington, D.C., last week, has joined those charged over the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, which she documented on social media, …

Coronavirus: L.A. County reported 17,323 new cases and 287 new deaths as of Jan. 14

Los Angeles County reported 14,564 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, Jan. 13, bringing the total number of cases to 958,497 according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The county reported 287 new fatalities linked to coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 12,955 since tracking began.

There were 23 more patients hospitalized by the virus as of Wednesday. The total number of patients in L.A. County hospitals is 7,949 with 22% in ICU.

The breakdown of people infected with the coronavirus by age is as follows:

  • 0-4: 17,614
  • 5-11: 42,730
  • 12-17: 53,245
  • 18-29: 218,831
  • 30-49: 305,583
  • 50-64: 172,728
  • 65-79: 67,450
  • Older than 80: 24,692

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Data posted each day is preliminary and subject to change, officials emphasize. More information may become available as individual case investigations are completed.

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