– Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) will attend a vaccination clinic with Cargill employees on Friday, April 30, at the local plant.
Hazleton-area industrial facilities were among the first to be hit with high numbers of positive COVID-19 cases when the pandemic began more than a year ago. Since then, Toohil has been instrumental in supporting local vaccine efforts and has made multiple requests for additional vaccines for area providers.
“Our industrial-plant workers, who are sometimes working 12-hour shifts, have had a hard time getting vaccine appointments when they are working. We are pleased this clinic was scheduled to give them the opportunity to get a shot,” said Toohil. “When vaccines became available, these employees were not in the first priority groups, despite the fact they were the hardest hit and continued to work to put food on our tables throughout the pandemic.”
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776, which is the union that represents the workforce at Cargill, has worked in conjunction with Cargill, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and Toohil to help secure the on-site vaccine clinic for this essential workforce.
“This is an example of where teamwork with our partners in state government and Cargill helped to pay off,” said Wendell Young IV, UFCW Local 1776 president. “We are thrilled that this on-site clinic can take place to bring these vaccines to the worksite so our members can be vaccinated. Workers, like those at Cargill, had no option of working virtually, and instead came to work every day to put food on the tables of families all through the country.”
Toohil has been raising the issue of vaccine equity for workers in industrial plants, many of whom are Latino.
“Cargill was one of the companies that communicated best with us during the onset of the pandemic. They were a leader in conducting employee health screenings, including temperature screenings and health questionnaires,” noted Toohil.
Toohil formed the Greater Hazleton Industry and Business Leaders COVID-19 Task Force with Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce President Mary Malone to create a uniform approach for addressing the virus in the local community. She also assisted in the creation of a similar task force with businesses at the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazle Township.