Officials say 25% of Memphis solid waste crews have COVID-19 or are in quarantine

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis reports 25% of solid waste crews have COVID-19 or are in quarantine.

“It’s a tough job,” says Dr. Jeff Waren with the COVID-19 taskforce. “They’re exposed to all sorts of things. There’s environmental exposure to COVID they probably have to deal with.”

Warren says data from the COVID-19 taskforce shows a majority of Memphians, who come down with coronavirus, go to work for one to three days before being tested. Many go with obvious symptoms, and that kind of behavior has a ripple effect on others.

“So someone gets it, they bring it home, then they infect their dad who is a sanitation worker, he goes out then he possibly infects his coworker and now we’re down and on quarantine,” Warren said.

Which means crews will have to work extra shifts to make up and deal with what the city calls “extensive absences”.

So, city leaders, adding in a statement that starting Monday, “solid waste crews will collect garbage and recycling as one to mitigate collection delays.”

“Having to do this now is not the greatest thing in the world. It’s something I do not want to continue for a long period of time,” Warren said.

Although it’s a temporary change, city leaders ask for patience and support as they work to manage absences while still offering pickup services.

“Bear with the services that are being hit hard because of quarantine and illness due to COVID,” Warren said.

The city will offer three recycling drop-off locations.

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