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Widows of LAPD employees killed by COVID-19 encourage vaccinations in department video

A woman in a video in front of graphics that say LAPD Training Division and COVID Vaccines Update
L.A. police service representative Debra Guerrero urges LAPD members to get vaccinated in a video released by the department. Her spouse, also an LAPD employee, died of COVID-19 in January.
(Los Angeles Police Department)

Even after her spouse and fellow Los Angeles Police Department employee Raymond Guerrero died of COVID-19 in January, Debra Guerrero wasn’t quite sure about getting the vaccine.

She’d had the virus, too, and been pretty sick, but she wanted to see further testing of the vaccine before getting the jab. Then their two daughters, who had just lost their 51-year-old father, changed her mind.

“Every time I would cough or get a cold, my children would worry that I was going to get sick and die,” said Guerrero, a police service representative for the last 20 years. “When your daughter looks you in the face and tells you, ‘You’re the only parent I have left,’ it’s very gut-wrenching.”

Guerrero said she now encourages everyone in the department to consider getting vaccinated.

A reserve LAPD officer urges colleagues to get the vaccine after being hospitalized with COVID-19 and told that being vaccinated saved his life.

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“I would just encourage people to think it over if you have not received it, because we’re going through another wave of COVID, and if there’s something that you’re able to do that’s going to help you pull through and maybe not have to experience something like this — there’s something you can do to help you survive this because this is such a new illness and virus — then I would suggest trying to get the vaccine,” Guerrero said through tears.

Guerrero’s account was one of three featured in a “Vaccine Update” video that the LAPD issued to the entire department, urging members to carefully consider getting vaccinated.

Nearly half of the LAPD’s 12,000-plus employees remain unvaccinated, and officials are under intense pressure to increase the vaccinated rate ahead of a looming mandate that all city employees be vaccinated unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.

Another account in the video was that of Tawnya White, whose husband, LAPD Sgt. Anthony White, died of COVID-19 in April at 53.

Tawnya White said that when her husband fell ill, they were “shocked” and “devastated” but “also hopeful that he would get through this because he was a fighter and he wasn’t one to quit.”

White’s husband rapidly got worse, she said. His lungs were badly damaged, and soon he couldn’t breathe on his own.

“Having the tracheostomy, he was unable to speak again,” she said. “We were never able to hear his voice again.”

White said her husband “fought every day and he wanted to come home, but in the end COVID was attacking his entire body, and he never recovered. He never could recover from it. His body started to shut down and it was very, very traumatic.”

She said she believes her husband would be alive had he been vaccinated, and she encouraged others to get the shot.

“To be vaccinated would hopefully prevent you from becoming extremely ill and or dying,” she said. “I would not want anyone to go through what my family has gone through.”

The video also featured Joe Avalos, a reserve LAPD officer and director of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Crisis Response Team who credits being vaccinated with saving his life after he caught COVID-19 in July and was hospitalized.

“I truly believe that being vaccinated saved my life,” he said. “There is no doubt about it.”


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