Omicron devastates services, schools and travel as workers sick or in quarantine | Nation and world

As the Omicron variant is sweeping the nation, disrupting everything from garbage collection and emergency services, to schools and travel because employees are sick or in quarantine.

In New York, garbage is not collected and three subway lines are closed because many workers are sick.

Schools and hospitals are also reporting staff shortages, and airlines continue to cancel flights.

More than 700,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day are reported on average across the country as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire, and that is not going to improve anytime soon, health experts have said and economists.

“More than 5 million Americans will be stuck at home over the next few days,” said Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics.

City departments report shortages

New York City departments are reporting worker shortages, with about 20% of firefighter emergency workers sick on Monday and about 22% of sanitation workers in the past week.

And it’s not just New York.

“A substantial number of communities have experienced delays in collecting their waste and recyclables due to the increase in Covid cases in recent weeks,” David Biderman, executive director and CEO of Solid, told CNN. Waste Association of North America. Monday.

In some cities, nearly a quarter of the waste collection workforce has become ill in recent weeks, according to the association.

“Critical staff shortage” in many hospitals

The health sector is particularly affected. Nearly a quarter of US hospitals report a “critical understaffing,” according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Of the roughly 5,000 hospitals that reported the data to HHS on Saturday, nearly 1,200 said they are currently experiencing a serious staff shortage. More than 100 hospitals have said they anticipate a shortage over the next week.

“Much of our hospital staff are knocked out, at home with symptomatic Covid,” said Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

In Colorado, so many emergency medical technicians are absent, they are now turning down some non-emergency callers under emergency protocols put in place for the first time since April 2020.

“With many sick EMS staff and high patient transport demands, advice to EMS providers on how best to use their services is needed at this time,” the Department of Public Health said Friday evening. and Colorado Environment in a statement. “Crisis Care Standards” for its EMS staff.

Dr Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN on Saturday that the next few weeks “will look bad in many American cities.”

“The DC Hospital Association, where I work, has applied to the DC government for permission for hospitals to adopt crisis care standards,” he said. “And it happens in every city in the United States.”

Schools are also experiencing staff shortages

Thousands of schools did not reopen last week after winter break due to Covid-19. In Boston last week, 1,000 Boston public school staff, including 650 teachers, were absent.

In Los Angeles, more than 60,000 school staff and students tested positive for the virus as schools approach reopening on Tuesday.

A school district in Greensboro, North Carolina, suspended school bus transportation for eight of its high schools starting Monday due to “severe shortage of bus drivers made worse by increasing cases of Covid-19” , a statement from Guilford County schools said. The neighborhood instead offered free city bus rides.

The critical labor shortage has been one of the reasons the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their guidelines and shortened the isolation period for people with Covid-19 who are not symptomatic, Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. , recently told CNN.

“If you are asymptomatic and infected, we want to get people back to work, especially those in essential jobs, to keep our society running smoothly,” Fauci told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Airlines cancel flights

Air transport has been affected since at least December, and not just because of the harsh winter. More than 25,000 flights have been canceled since Christmas. Southwest Airlines canceled 6% of its total schedule for Sunday and delayed 833 more flights.

“Unfortunately, a series of winter weather systems across the United States, coupled with the rapidly spreading omicron variant, have put extraordinary pressure on our operations, our employees and our customers like you,” said Allison Ausband, vice -executive president of Delta Air Lines. written to clients Last week.

“It has been one of the most difficult operating environments we have ever faced, and it has forced us to cancel hundreds of flights as a result,” said Ausband.

The new CDC guidelines “should help ease pressure on staff in the coming weeks and smooth out operational challenges,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines has cut 10% of its flights until the end of January.


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