Officials across the Northeast have prepared for high winds and blizzard conditions, but workforce shortages caused by Covid-19 have complicated their efforts.
The intensity of the storm could put further strain on staff who are being stretched thin as the highly contagious Omicron forces sick staff members to isolate from those with symptoms and even patients who are not. Those with symptoms must be isolated for fear they may infect others.
Jonathan Beder, the town’s director of public affairs, said about 10 workers have been furloughed because of Covid-19 and the virus is making other duties more difficult in the town of Plymouth, Mass. do.
In addition to the absences, officials tried not to transport emergency-goers in the same vehicle, Mr. Beder said. He added that even helpdesk contracts are scarce.
“It definitely slows down our response,” he said.
Mr. Beder worried about the timing of the storm. It is expected that if the snow and cleanup work lasts about 30 hours, employees who work through only occasional breaks will be exhausted, he said. “We don’t have a second or third shift,” he said. “We’re not like the police or the fire department.”
In Connecticut, the transportation commissioner said staffing was down about 30%, leading to a greater reliance on contractors to fill the void.
Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said at a news conference that enough personnel would depend on the strength of the storm. It’s okay to snow about an inch an hour, he said. But if it drops at 3 to 5 inches an hour, as predicted, “we won’t be able to keep up with that.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/us/covid-19-snowstorm-staffing-shortages.html Covid-19 Complicated response to East Coast Snowstorm