MEMPHIS, Tenn.– From police to firefighters, teachers and hospitals, the fallout from COVID is making it harder for workers to do their jobs.
WREG asked for the absentee numbers for different departments.
Memphis Fire said last month it averaged 52 workers out sick per day, down from last year’s average of 65, but still the highest in the last 4 months.
The firefighters union said resignations and retirements already have the department short staffed and vacations have been cancelled for January.
“Our police agencies and our fire agencies have significant absenteeism because they are quarantined or isolated … making it more challenging for them to serve you,” said the city’s Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen.
Memphis Police didn’t provide their recent absenteeism. But as of Tuesday, 146 commissioned officers had tested positive for COVID with 82 in quarantine and 23 self-isolating.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department said it is up to 94 out of 1,800 total personnel off work compared to just 67 this time last year.
But many wondering about teachers. Shelby County Schools didn’t provide its most recent absenteeism, but its latest COVID Dashboard on Dec. 9-15 showed 62 students and 38 staff members had COVID.
The teacher’s union said because of the vulnerability, there needs to be some degree of virtual learning.
“When you look at the fact that high school teachers may see 150 children a day, that’s 150 homes in that family. So the exposure is great in schools. It is just tremendous,” said Keith Williams with the Shelby County Education Association.
And it may not get better soon.
“The capacity to get other essential services in the community are going to be stretched 19:52 because we have such a level of illness in our community and we have a large portion of our workforce who has become infected with COVID-19,” said Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor.
WREG also asked local hospitals about their absentee numbers. Baptist hospital said it had 757 employees out on Friday because of COVID-19 across its entire health care system, not just in the Memphis area.
And Methodist Le Bonheur said they have seen an increase in staff testing positive – more than at any other point in the pandemic.