Parts of New York City experienced delays in garbage collection last week as the sanitation department deals with service issues

“Yes, we experienced a delay in a service, a gap we compensated for throughout [last] week, “said Commissioner Edward Grayson.

“Ours is a very visible service to all New Yorkers, as we all know – so with 12,000 tons coming out every single day in the residential areas, once you get a little behind, it will take some time to straighten the ship… We had full staffing in place all weekend, we worked the extra service day on Sundays to do the best we could to catch up.

As of Monday, the backlog had been cleared up.

“Sanitation services continue throughout the city,” department secretary Vincent Gragnani told CNN in an email. “Our paramedics were moved to 12-hour shifts last Thursday, and they will continue with these shifts to keep our city streets clean and safe. They will also work Sundays as needed, including yesterday.”

The problems with waste collection come at the start of a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all New York City employees, including workers in the sanitation department.
2,300 NYC firefighters report sick as vaccine mandate begins, but mayor says public safety is not disturbed
New York is one of only a handful of U.S. cities dealing with waste collection issues. Broadly speaking, the pandemic has created a shortage of labor in a number of critical areas across the country, and these shortages have significantly affected waste collection and recycling in Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta; and Denver, Colorado, among other cities.
“Both public and private collection service providers are facing increasing difficulties in hiring and retaining collection car drivers and assistants,” reads a May 2021 report from the Solid Waste Association of North America, an organization of about 10,000 industry professionals. “Some providers of waste and recycling collection services have difficulty providing services at service levels before COVID-19.”

Despite the problems, data from New York City indicates that the vaccine mandate has effectively pushed many unvaccinated urban workers to get shots.

On October 19, 62% of the city’s employees in the Ministry of Health had received at least one dose of the vaccine, but that number has, according to Gragnani, risen to 83% on Monday morning.

Commissioner Grayson said the number of vaccinated people in the ward continues to rise day by day.

“The mandates have put us back in a very healthy position,” he said Monday.

All city employees were to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination by Friday, October 29th. Those who have not been vaccinated were expected to be put on unpaid leave, the city said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said about 9,000 city employees are on unpaid leave from Monday, out of a workforce of 378,000, for failing to comply with the mandate. About 12,000 employees in the city have applied to receive religious or medical exemptions, and the city will respond to those inquiries in the coming days, he said.

De Blasio said there have been no interruptions in the service of the police, fire department or health ministry, but he acknowledged that there were a high number of workers claiming to be ill and lacking work.

“We have every reason to believe that there are many people out there who claim to be sick who are not, and that is not acceptable,” he said. “So what you have to do is do the right thing. Come to work, protect people that you took an oath to do.”

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Melanie Schuman and Evan Simko-Bednarski contributed to this report.


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