Hundreds of Memphis city employees out sick with COVID-19

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:44 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis city officials say as of Tuesday, a total of 450 employees have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19.

“When I look on, just even a 12 month basis and since the beginning of the pandemic of March of 2020, these are by far the highest numbers that we’ve seen,” said Alexandria Smith, the city’s chief human resources officer.

Smith says the Memphis Police Department is seeing the biggest impact with 237 employees out. To help with the shortage, the department is doing compressed work weeks and increasing hours.

Eighty-four employees with the Memphis Fire Department are out, and Memphis Parks shares it’s also having staffing shortages.

The parks are operating at 50% capacity until further notice at community and senior centers. Reservations for pick-up/walk-in basketball are also currently required.

Staffing shortages have also delayed collections for the Solid Waste Division. The city asks customers to present their carts curbside on their regular collection day and leave until collected.

The 311 call center is also being impacted. Callers may experience a longer wait time.

“There have been some cases where we have had to either limit office hours or even shut down some facilities in order to adhere to the quarantine guidelines for the CDC,” Smith said. “In terms of the fire department, they have made the decision to put a moratorium on vacations until the beginning of February.”

Smith adds the focus is keeping employees safe and making sure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines are being followed.

She notes there are more than 8,300 city employees and more than half of them are fully vaccinated.

“Of course with having 60% of our employee base vaccinated, we’re not seeing necessarily the detrimental effects of people actually passing away,” said Smith.

Smith says employees are not required to get vaccinated.

The city continues to run its vaccination incentive program where vaccinated employees can get up to $200 if they are fully vaccinated.

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