An electrician who worked for UCLA Facilities Management died from COVID-19 on Friday, a UCLA Health spokesperson confirmed.
Emmanuel Gomez, a journeyman electrician working at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, died Friday at another hospital, according to a Teamsters Local 2010 webpage dedicated to Gomez. He was 49.
“Our leadership has expressed deepest condolences to the employee’s family and department leaders offered support to co-workers during this difficult time,” a UCLA Health spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Gomez was one of four Teamsters Local 2010 members at UCLA who tested positive for the coronavirus. The four workers belonged to the same unit and contracted the disease as a cluster, said Jason Rabinowitz, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 2010.
“Our union is like a family and we’ve lost a brother,” Rabinowitz said. “He was working in the hospital, pulling a lot of overtime during the crisis. He was in there as an essential worker helping to keep the Ronald Reagan hospital up and running for the patients during this crisis.”
Rabinowitz said he believes Gomez was infected at work because Gomez’s coworkers contracted the disease as well, adding that he thinks the university did not provide sufficient protective equipment for its workers.
“We had to fight to get those respirators, those N95 masks, and once you get them you also have to be trained on them, and you have to be fit tested to make sure that the mask actually is working right,” Rabinowitz said. “The N95s that our members were trained and fit tested for were different than the ones that they actually were provided.”
UCLA Health addressed the fit testing problem only after Gomez tested positive and the union called an emergency meeting with the university, Rabinowitz said.
UCLA Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this matter.
The Teamsters Local 2010 union, which represents staff members in higher education institutions, also urged the state and employers to provide more personal protective equipment, hazard pay and paid sick leave, in order to help prevent more cases.
Gomez is survived by his wife and three sons. The union is working on setting up a fund to assist Gomez’s family and is also planning a vigil or memorial.