Quarantine staff shortages cause delays in yard waste collection

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — They worked through some of the toughest times during the pandemic and now they are asking us to cut them a little slack. These are the men and women who perform critical services, like garbage and yard waste collection and they are being stretched thin due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19.

If you’ve noticed all the leaves and the leaf bags piling up around your neighborhood, you’re not alone.  

Plenty of municipalities are having a tough time keeping up with some of their leaf collecting and other residential services. It’s just one more thing you can blame on COVID-19, says Sergio Panunzio, Commissioner of the Department of General Services in Albany.

“We are not exempt from the pandemic. So, we have a situation where we’re concerned about our employees first and maintaining a level of services,” said Panunzio.

He says on any given day their staffing numbers are down by 10 to 15% and that it is mostly due to employees who are under quarantine because they came into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

“You lose a body; you lose a component of a service that you provide. So, we are very thankful for our residents who are very patient. We are through this all together.”

And Albany is not alone. Other communities told NEWS10 they have been staggering and modifying shifts to follow social distancing. That means that things like leaf collection may be a bit delayed.

“If your collection is Thursday, it might not be that Thursday. It might be Friday or Saturday that we get to it. Again, because of the shortage of personnel.”

Panunzio says garbage and recycling is their main concern, but he is now facing his next upcoming challenge: Snow removal.

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