Port of LA leader tasked with lifesaving logistics for city

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka has a weighty task — procurement and distribution of medical supplies critical to the fight against the coronavirus.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier this week named Seroka the city’s chief logistics officer

“How do we help local hospitals that are quickly running out of essential supplies and personal protective equipment?” Garcetti asked. “As we fight tooth and nail to locate those items, how can we get them to our front-line doctors, nurses and medical professionals? As our health care system handles a big surge of patients and prepares for more, these are the twin questions that are becoming the next massive undertaking in our fight against COVID-19. We need someone with a deep well of experience to get the job done, which is why I’ve appointed the Port of Los Angeles’ executive director, Gene Seroka, to act as our city’s chief logistics officer.

“His job is to use our purchasing power, our connections at the port with logistics, transportation, assets, information technology and manufacturing relationships to secure critical materials that we need in this fight,” Garcetti said. “He’s going to help us manage the process of getting the 1 million masks currently in storage out to our first responders, along with a second supply chain to help our hospitals get everything they need in bulk.”

The mayor said Seroka has “assembled a team to order, track, expedite and deliver COVID-19 supplies and to stay coordinated with our county, state and, I hope as well, federal authorities. I cannot overstate how important this work is going to be to our health and to the fight ahead. By putting Gene in this role, he will save lives.”

Seroka made a plea for crucial medical supplies in his video update on COVID-19’s impact on the port Thursday.

“There is a critical need in Southern California for N95 masks, isolation gowns, ventilators that are both intrusive and nonintrusive, IV drip apparatus and other medical supplies. We are trying to move these supplies as quickly as possible to our hospitals and health care providers. If you can provide these supplies or other assistance, please email us at LOVLA@portla.org,” Seroka said.

Seroka said he will continue to lead the port while serving as head of the initiative Logistics Victory Los Angeles — LOV LA.

The port’s efforts during the pandemic include rebalancing the supply chain, he said.

“In fact, a 23,000-TEU vessel arrived in the port on Wednesday. This ship is the largest to ever call a Western Hemisphere port,” Seroka said of the Panama-flagged MSC Mia. “It is the first of three massive vessels being sent here to help evacuate critical export cargo and a buildup of empty containers that need to get back to Asia. This will allow us to be prepared for the next wave of imports coming throughout the Pacific Rim.”

Seroka said all Port of LA terminals remain open and are operating at about 80% of normal volume.

“With U.S. retailers and cargo owners scaling back on orders, we may not see an April increase in cargo even though factories in China are beginning a modest uptick in volume. Amid this public health crisis there will be uncertain months ahead in the global supply chain. That said, we are operating continuously and efficiently and ready to meet the needs of our regional and national economies,” Seroka said.