An employee in the city’s trash department has tested positive for COVID-19, a memorandum from Public Services Director John Peavy confirmed.
“The employee has been self-quarantined since last Wednesday,” Peavy wrote. “They drive a shuttle truck, which is a single-person unit that greatly reduced exposure. They are at home and we ask you keep them in your prayers.”
The employee is one of seven city employees infected with the virus, Mayor Sandy Stimpson confirmed in a press conference Thursday afternoon. This includes four first responders.
In an interview Thursday morning Wesley Young, president of the Mobile public service workers advocacy group, told Lagniappe the worker in question is male, has some underlying health conditions and began to show symptoms about a week ago.
Young said he wants all of the garbage and trash collectors tested to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“My concern is they are carrying the virus and don’t know it,” Young said. “They are coming back to their families.”
While almost every police officer and firefighter has been tested using rapid serum blood test that detects antibodies created from fighting the virus, there aren’t enough of the test kits available for all other employees to be tested, including those in garbage and trash collection, Stimpson said.
Once more tests become available, Stimpson said, more employees and the general public can be tested.
Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber said the city chose to test police and firefighters first because they have more direct contact with the public than other city employees. Stimpson countered that many garbage and trash collectors are in trucks by themselves for most of the day.
“They are isolated in a truck by themselves,” he said. “They don’t have the exposure. When the tests become available we will consider testing them.”
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