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Unvaccinated LA First Responders Forced to Pay for COVID Tests or Face Immediate Termination

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Despite the federal legal victory for employers through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against the Biden vaccine mandate, Los Angeles City officials are moving forward with mandates for their own employees, including first responders.

Beginning today, Friday, November 19, all unvaccinated public workers in LA must receive negative COVID tests at least twice a week (or every 3 workdays) before being allowed back to work. Many city workers—including LAPD, firefighters, transit workers, teachers, and many others—have been protesting the city mandates, labeling them as unconstitutional and others arguing these measures violate their religious beliefs.

A source at the LAPD told El American that over 3,000 police officers have submitted exemptions, but that none of them have been reviewed because the department has failed to assign someone to read and sort through these requests.

$3M contract awarded to company co-owned by LAPD, LAFD commissioner

PPS Health Inc., DBA Bluestone Safety is the testing company that the city contracted for a whopping $3 million of taxpayers’ dollars. The no-bid contract has caused much controversy after it was found that PPS Health is reportedly co-owned by Dr. Pedram Salimpour, the Pension Commissioner for the LAPD and the fire department.

Orange County’s Vivera Pharmaceuticals has offered free COVID-19 testing to first responders. The company slammed both the contract and mandates, saying in a statement that they believe testing is “important” but that there is “no reason to force first responders to pay for testing in order to keep their jobs.” Vivera CEO Paul Edalat said that the company is “committed to doing our part in this pandemic” and called on companies to stop profiting off the backs of those who serve.

It is unsure if the City of Los Angeles reached out to the Orange County testing company to take them up on their offer to test workers for free.

There are multiple lawsuits by city workers against the mandates. One of them was filed by the LAPD union, but their next court date is not until December 8. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press conference that city workers must be vaccinated by the 18th of December or “should be prepared to lose their job.

On November 8th—in what could be the most coordinated and united Los Angeles multi-department city workers protest in recent history—thousands of firefighters, police officers, teachers, union workers and city metro workers gathered near LA City Hall protesting the Draconian testing and vaccine mandates.

First responders are being fired despite serving communities for years

Jeff Burmeister of the LAFD was recently fired, after 16 years in public service.

In a heartbreaking Instagram post, Burmeister stated the following: “Betrayed. Angry. Sad. Fearful. Despondent. Shocked. Bitter. 16 years as a loyal employee to the city of Los Angeles. 16 years of serving the public in their time of greatest need. 16 years of being as good an employee as possible. No reprimands. No demerits. No grievances. No formal discipline. Nothing. Exceptional employee reviews. Mentor. Instructor. Leader. 16 years of work. 16 years of effort. And yet today my department gave me an ultimatum.”

What will happen with the thousands of ‘non-compliant city workers, many of whom are first responders and essential to our city? Will there be an investigation launched into the multi-million dollar no-bid contract between Bluestone and the City of Los Angeles? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, Los Angeles will soon be a lot less safe if hundreds to thousands of its first responders and city workers are fired for failing to comply. 

Anthony Cabassa is a Field Correspondent with El American. Before that he did Independent Journalism for 3+ years informing the Hispanic/Latino community with bilingual news updates and video podcasts. He is also a U.S. Veteran of over 10 years in the Coast Guard. He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and 3 children // Anthony Cabassa es Corresponsal de Campo de El American. Antes hizo periodismo independiente durante más de 3 años informando a la comunidad hispana con información bilingüe y pódcasts. También es un veterano de más de 10 años en el Ejército Americano. Vive en Los Ángeles, California, con su esposa y sus tres hijos.

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