FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The city of Fort Wayne said trash and recycling collection around the city has been impacted because drivers are out sick, many with COVID-19.
In a statement Tuesday, the city said nearly 1/3 of Red River drivers were out sick. What’s more, Public Works and City Utilities staffing levels were down 20 percent due to illnesses, so city crews were having trouble helping to fill the void on routes.
The city issued this statement:
There have been a number of positive COVID-19 cases with Red River drivers and City of Fort Wayne Street Department employees who assist with after-hours collections. This is resulting in slower collections and residents not getting materials collected on their scheduled day. Residents should continue to set out materials on the normal collection day. We’re working diligently to get as many materials collected as soon as possible. Currently, collections are a day and a half to two days behind. We anticipate those delays could last for the next few weeks. We continue to ask for patience from the public.
Mayor Tom Henry and the City of Fort Wayne Solid Waste Department understand and share the frustrations that residents and neighborhoods have over the collection process. Plans are being worked on to try to get the current challenges corrected in light of the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings involving Red River and the ongoing labor shortage. Efforts are also being made to get Indiana law changed that would enable the City to not have to take the lowest bid on future garbage and recycling contracts.
Tuesday night, Fort Wayne City Council will consider a resolution that requests that the Indiana General Assembly change state law to allow municipalities to use a request for proposals process for solid waste and recycling services. Red River was the low bidder when it won the city’s trash and recycling contract in 2017.
In the meantime, the city is running two Solid Waste Department trucks running daily to help with collections. It also runs trucks from the street and parks departments in the evenings when they’re available, the city said.
The city said other waste haulers are experiencing similar challenges with labor shortage and illnesses, the city explained.