UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — Trash troubles are mounting in Upper Darby Township. Garbage is piling up as sanitation workers quarantine for a COVID-19 outbreak in their ranks.
Township officials say things weren’t looking too hot this time last week and then Tropical Storm Isaias hit. Trash collection was already suffering and by Wednesday, callouts were mounting.
And on Thursday, the mayor decided to pull the plug and quarantine the entire Sanitation Division.
Trash collection is at a trickle in Upper Darby Township as trash dots curbside landscapes across the township.
A plan B rolled out Sunday night is just beginning to chip away at the piles of trash that await a ride to the dump.
“The worst part is it stinks,” a resident named Patrice said. “It stinks and it’s piling up. Somebody needs to do something.”
Upper Darby Mayor Barbarann Keffer announced on Thursday the entire sanitation department would quarantine for two weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Citing privacy concerns, a spokesperson wouldn’t say how many public employees had called out sick late last week, but the number of infected workers triggered the mayor’s decision to send them home for two weeks.
Homeowners are critical of the township’s sudden announcement, claiming trash collection had already lapsed before the mayor’s announcement.
“We definitely need a backup plan — plan B to be in effect. There should’ve been one and figure out how to get everyone safe and healthy and get the job done too,” resident Michelle Goldberg said.
At a council meeting on Wednesday night, only 24 hours before the quarantine was announced, a councilmember asked administrators about the health of public workers.
Chief Administrative Officer Vincent Rongione, who deferred comment for the story, responded: “We haven’t experienced any — well, I don’t want to jinx us,” Rongione said.
Township sources say the jinx was in. That exchange was just 24 hours before the quarantine was issued. That stunned some councilmembers who spoke with Eyewitness News Monday.
The township is planning on doing trash collections at least once a week. The normal schedule is twice a week. Recycling is also on hold until the end of the month.