Infection rate of dock workers in Los Angeles is rising causing added concern of a severe slowdown in the region. According to the Los Angeles Times, as of two days ago, nearly 700 workers in the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have contracted Covid-19 and hundreds more are taking virus-related leaves.
This labor shortage comes when demand for imports is at an all-time high and as the virus surges across California. Port leaders and California lawmakers are launching an emergency campaign calling for vaccinations for dock workers as soon as possible.
Eugene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said that 1,800 workers are currently unable to go to work because of the virus including those in quarantine as well as those sick with the virus.
During the first few months of the pandemic, container throughput dropped nearly 19%, but during the second half of 2020 it rose nearly 50%. This has led to a backlog of cargo at the port, a large number of containers and a shortage of manpower at the terminals. As of Tuesday, the LA Times reported that 45 vessels were anchored outside the twin ports waiting to be unloaded.
CA Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-San Pedro) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) wrote in a letter to health officials in California and Los Angeles County on January 15. “If action is not taken immediately, the largest port in the United States may face closure, which is a very real danger. Not only is this catastrophic for the Southern California community, the entire United States is very dependent on the flow of goods at the port,” they wrote.