Last week, Federal Maritime Commission members Carl W. Bentzel and Daniel B. Maffei sent a letter to Marad Administrator Adm. Mark Buzby and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, urging them to prioritize PPE, rapid testing supplies, and coronavirus vaccines for the maritime workforce.

“With recent Covid-19 outbreaks impacting the maritime labor workforce and port operations, we strongly recommend that rapid Covid-19 testing be made available to the U.S. maritime labor workforce as soon as possible. Looking ahead, as vaccinations come online, we also recommend that this industry workforce be recognized as a priority for early vaccination given the ongoing role it will play in moving critical medical supplies, PPE, and vaccines,” Commissioners Bentzel and Maffei said.

Noting recent positive news regarding the development of vaccines against Covid-19, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim said last week that the key worker designation should ensure seafarers and maritime workers receive priority vaccination, to allow them to work and maintain vital global supply chains.

"I hope that the key worker designation will ensure that seafarers can be vaccinated expeditiously. This will go some way to resolving the ongoing crew change crisis," Lim said.