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    As Omicron sacrifices sanitary workers, garbage and recyclables pile up: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

    A trash can is sitting for collection on the streets of Philadelphia on Thursday. Omicron variants are sickening so many sanitary workers that waste collection in Philadelphia and other cities has been delayed or suspended.

    Matt Rourke / AP


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    Matt Rourke / AP

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    A trash can is sitting for collection on the streets of Philadelphia on Thursday. Omicron variants are sickening so many sanitary workers that waste collection in Philadelphia and other cities has been delayed or suspended.

    Matt Rourke / AP

    The Omicron variant Due to the illness of so many sanitary workers across the United States, some cities need to delay or suspend the collection of waste and recycling, preventing the government from performing this most basic function. Especially shocked residents are angry.

    The slowdown debilitates Christmas gift boxes and wrapping paper-filled trash cans with Nashville curbs, trash bags pile up on the streets of Philadelphia, and uncollected garden trash (grass cutouts, leaves, branches). It is blocking the sidewalk in Atlanta.

    “That’s just a shame,” said Madeline Rubin, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, where authorities stopped recycling.

    “You know that if they want, they can find the money to do it,” she said. “If it wanted to come here, they would spend money to make it happen.”

    Cities such as Atlanta, Nashville, and Louisville are very short-lived, temporarily suspending the collection of recyclable bottles, cans, paper and plastic, garden trash, oversized junk, and more to focus on the coarser and odorous. doing. Delays are more than annoying to the inhabitants and cause problems such as clogged storm drains and sidewalk blockages.

    Freddie O’Connell, a member of the Nashville City Council, was just as surprised as his members when he was notified that the city had stopped recycling curbs before Christmas.

    “I was just surprised because there were no alternatives or backup plans,” he said. “There is no hotline for people with physical disabilities or lack of secure access to cars” to bring recyclables to a central drop-off site.

    “It feels like a failure of governance,” he added.

    The garbage crisis is actually one-third of a pandemic. The First happened in the spring of 2020When COVID-19 became established in the United States, the problem reoccurred due to the surge in delta variants in the summer.

    In December, the North American Solid Waste Association warned government officials and garbage carriers to “plan for a shortage now.”

    A highly contagious variant was hit when Americans were producing large amounts of garbage during the Christmas holidays. Combining that with relatively low vaccination levels among frontline sanitary workers, you have a “perfect storm to delay collection,” said Association Managing Director David Byderman this week. Said.

    In some communities, up to a quarter of the waste collection workforce is ill, Biderman said.

    Garbage collection is just one of many basic services interrupted by Omicron. Around the United States, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and transportation workers have a number of illnesses.

    “Calls, emails, everything has arrived. People are naturally frustrated,” said Liliana Bakhtiari, a member of the Atlanta City Council.

    Atlanta officials said Monday that due to a labor shortage, recycling and garden waste will be picked up “as personnel allow.”

    Los Angeles said the collection of recyclables could be delayed throughout the month.

    In Louisville, Kentucky, sanitary workers stopped picking up yard trash in early January until further notice. Residents can drop branches and cutouts at the Christmas tree collection site.

    New York City, the world’s largest medic, had about 2,000 out of 7,000 workers due to the latest round of coronavirus, while the rest was long to get rid of untreated waste. I’m working hours. Their city has not stopped service.

    Harry Nespoli, chairman of a local union representing the city’s sanitary workers, said some returned after quarantine and others tested positive for the virus.

    In Philadelphia, sometimes referred to as Filter Delphi because of street conditions, street commissioner Carlton Williams says that about 10% to 15% of the 900 sanitary workforce is generated daily, collecting waste. I’m late.

    “When people are out, we can’t just hire them to replace them,” he said. “We must give them time to rejuvenate.”

    To prevent piles of garbage, some municipalities hire temporary workers or contract with private carriers. Some offer signature or retention bonuses or salary increases.

    Chattanooga, Tennessee has raised the driver’s starting salary by more than 40%, from just over $ 31,500 to $ 45,000.

    This allowed the city to suspend recycling collections in July and then resume recycling collections in November, allowing regular collections to continue despite the surge in Omicron, spokesman Mary Besui Card said. I am saying.

    As Omicron sacrifices sanitary workers, garbage and recyclables pile up: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

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