According to the LA Times, a rising longshore worker infection rate is exacerbating a massive snarl at the ports due to a pandemic-induced surge in imports. For this reason, port executives, union leaders and elected officials are urging to initiate dockworker vaccinations.
Namely, workplaces across California experience increasing coronavirus cases while trying to stay afloat amid restrictions. As the pandemic is getting worse, containing the virus has become more difficult, especially among the L.A. region’s essential workerss.
The longshore workers are among many essential employees wanting vaccinations soon, as hundreds of outbreaks have been reported with this latest surge.
In fact, in the first months of the pandemic, container volume at the Port of Los Angeles fell almost 19%, but in the second half of 2020 it rose nearly 50%.
In addition, a backlog at the ports is now colliding with the COVID crisis. Specfically, this week 45 vessels were anchored outside the twin ports waiting to unload, part of a months-long bottleneck not seen since a work slowdown six years ago.
The ports are considered vital infrastructure for national security purposes and medical supplies for the pandemic.
So far healthcare workers, first responders and residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities are first in line for vaccination. About 450,000 Los Angeles County healthcare workers still need to be vaccinated and other groups will move up in priority once those workers receive their shots.
For this reason, port executives, union leaders and local elected officials want dockworkers to be eligible for vaccines after medical and other front-line workers.