LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A pile of iceberg lettuce, chopped up onion and freshly sliced cold cuts were piled high at the Eastside Italian Deli near Boyle Heights Tuesday where sandwich assembly was underway.
“Today we are feeding those death care workers that have seemed to be forgotten,” Vito Anguili said.
The Italian subs were being delivered to workers at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, courtesy of Vidal Herrera, owner of 1-800-Autopsies.
“Maybe they could use a little kudos,” Herrera said.
Herrera has made a living providing private autopsies, but he got his start at the county coroner’s office 46 years ago.
“This is hard work,” he said. “Straight, brutal, hard physical work.”
Herrera was inspired to order lunch for the staffers after seeing news reports of similar efforts for first responders in light of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the workers at the coroner’s office face all the same risks.
“Death investigators, I call people in death care, they’re actually touching bodies, and they’re short of PPE just like anybody else,” he said. “This is a small segment of this whole pandemic that nobody thinks about.”
Herrera said refrigerated trailers recently parked behind the officer were reminiscent of tragic scenes playing out in New York City, and that as public health officials work to understand the scope of COVID-19, the demand for the coroner’s services was only increasing.
“They’re overwhelmed with work,” Herrera said.
And while he wished he could personally deliver the sandwiches, he knew that was not possible due to social distancing guidelines.
“I want you to know that I believe in you,” he said. “I’m with you. It’s a camaraderie, it’s a brotherhood. Although I no longer where here, my heart and soul will always be with the men and woman of the coroner’s office.”