LONG BEACH, Calif. — Every week, Al Galuppo fills his SUV to the brim with meals, giving them to frontline workers, including doctors, nurses and firefighters. The longtime Port of Long Beach foreman and other International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 94 members have donated more than $15,000 in meals since the pandemic began.
“These people are running towards Covid,” Galuppo said. “The normal person, we’re running from Covid, so we’re really trying to say thank you to these people.”
While supporting front-line workers, Galuppo also takes care of the front lines of the supply chain, supervising workers as they move goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It helps ensure residents get the items they need, including personal protective equipment and essentials, while trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“I have a family and I don’t want to bring it home, so it’s always on my mind, but you know, thanks to our safety procedures and protocols, I was lucky not to have it. have,” he said.
That means donning PPE, working outdoors and social distancing, but as the flow of goods continues to increase at ports, Galuppo says they need all available workers. In fact, ILWU Local 94 is asking state officials that dockworkers be deemed essential and prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine, especially given the recent spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
ILWU Local 94 along with officials from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and other organizations involved in business operations raised concerns in a letter sent to several state governors on the coast. west, including California Governor Gavin Newsom. On Tuesday, the LA City Council passed a resolution introduced by Councilman Joe Buscaino, asking the state to consider prioritizing dockworkers for the vaccine along with other “essential workers.”
Dr Paul Simon, scientific director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said the vaccine will first go to healthcare workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, which is part of of the Tier 1 Phase 1a rollout. In a few weeks, the county will enter Tier 2 Phase 1A and vaccinate a larger group.
“We will also be rolling out immunization efforts among federally qualified health center providers, communities that serve many people, home health workers, community health workers, our emergency responders, paramedics paramedics and others involved in emergency response will be a high priority,” said Dr Simon.
LA County will coordinate with the state and follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control to determine which other “essential workers” will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks.
“We will be looking at their risks, so both the risk of exposure and the risks of serious illness,” Dr. Simon said and that likely includes workers in food manufacturing facilities who have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. This year.
Galuppo says ports have avoided mass outbreaks thanks to strict safety protocols, but hopes workers will still be considered essential given their role in transporting essential goods.
“We show up every day, trying to maintain the supply chain,” he said. “That’s what we like to do, make ships come and go.”