Employee shortages in New York are causing delays in subway services, garbage collection and the fire department. Airport officials have closed security checkpoints at the largest terminal in Phoenix, Arizona, and schools across the country are struggling to find teachers for their classrooms.
I think it really reminds everyone when COVID-19 first appeared and there were such major disruptions in all aspects of our normal livessaid Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and emergency preparedness. NGO humanitarian Project HOPE.
” The sad reality is that there is no way to predict what will happen next until we increase immunization around the world. “
Frontline responders, in hospitals, schools and government agencies have used a holistic approach to keeping the public safe, but wonder how long they can continue to do so.
Disturbances in hospitals
Paramedics in Johnson County, Kansas work 80 hours a week. Ambulances were often forced to change course when the hospitals they were heading to told them they were too overwhelmed to help them.
When ambulances arrive in hospitals, some of their patients who need urgent care end up in waiting rooms because there are no beds.
A rural hospital had no place to send its dialysis patients this week, hospital staff consulted a manual and
tried installing catheters, testifies Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer of the hospital of the University of Kansas.
Medical facilities have been affected by a
double whammy, he emphasizes. The number of COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas hospital fell from 40 on 1er December to 139 Friday. At the same time, more than 900 employees have either been sick with COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, accounting for 7% of the 13,500 hospital workers.
” What I’m hoping and we’re going to keep our fingers crossed is that at its peak maybe Omicron will have the same rapid downfall we saw in South Africa. We do not know it. It’s just hope. “
The Omicron variant spreads even more easily than other strains of coronavirus and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had already been infected with previous versions of the virus.
However, early studies show that Omicron is less likely to cause serious illness than the Delta variant. Vaccination – especially after a booster – still offers strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.
Yet its easy transmissibility has led to a skyrocketing of cases in the United States, disrupting both businesses, government offices and utilities.
Shortage of staff in basic services
In downtown Boise, Idaho, customers lined up outside a drugstore before it opened on Friday morning and soon after, the queue expanded inside the large branch. Pharmacies have been hit hard by staff shortages, either because employees are sick or because they have simply left.
Pharmacy technician Anecia Mascorro said that before the pandemic, the Sav-On pharmacy where she works always had prescriptions ready for the next day. Now it takes a lot longer to fill the hundreds of orders that are pouring in.
The demand is crazy, said Anecia Mascorro.
In Los Angeles, more than 800 police and firefighters were sidelined by the virus on Thursday, resulting in slightly longer response times for ambulances and firefighters.
In New York, authorities have had to delay or cut subway and garbage collection services due to a staff shortage due to COVID-19. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said about a fifth of metro operators and drivers, or 1,300 people, had been absent in recent days. Nearly a quarter of the city’s sanitation workers were sick as of Thursday, Sanitation Commissioner Edward Grayson said.
Also in New York City, officials said Thursday that 28% of paramedics were sick, compared to around 8% to 10% normally. Twice as many firefighters as usual were also absent.
In contrast, the police department has seen its sick employee rate drop over the past week, officials said.
At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, two checkpoints at the airport’s busiest terminal were closed because too few officers from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported for work, according to statements from airport officials and the TSA.
Repercussions from New York to Hawaii
Meanwhile, schools from coast to coast have tried to maintain in-person teaching despite the absences of many teachers. In Chicago, a dispute between the school district and the teachers’ union over distance learning and COVID-19 safety protocols has resulted in the cancellation of classes for the past three days. In San Francisco, nearly 900 educators and assistants were sick Thursday.
In Hawaii, 1,600 teachers and staff were absent Wednesday due to illness, vacation or pre-arranged time off. The state teachers’ union criticized education officials for not preparing well for the absence of teachers. Osa Tui, chief of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said advisers and security guards were being forced to go
keep a classroom.
It is very inappropriateOsa Tui said at a press conference.
To have this model where there are so many teachers and the department says, ‘send your kid to a classroom that doesn’t have a teacher’, what’s the point?
In New Haven, Connecticut, where hundreds of teachers were absent every day this week, administrators helped out in classrooms. Some teachers say they appreciate the move, but that it can be confusing for students, adding to the physical and psychological distress they are already feeling from the pandemic.
How far can the elastic stretch here? asks Leslie Blatteau, president of the New Haven Teachers’ Federation.