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DeKalb public works crews in quarantine due to COVID-19 but work continues, says city manager

City officials urge residents to continue safe practices amid COVID-19 pandemic

DeKALB – Leaf collection might look a little different this year with multiple cases of COVID-19 within crews but it will not be delayed because of that, according to DeKalb city officials.

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said during the Monday City Council meeting that the city started with four crews of three employees for leaf pick-up a couple of weeks ago. He said recent weather conditions for leaf pick-up couldn't have been better and crews were meticulous in their work.

“Right now, five of those people are quarantined,” Nicklas said.

Nicklas said there recently have been multiple COVID-19 cases reported within the public works department, as well as the city's fire department, but declined further comment on the cases themselves out of privacy concerns. He said the city is now down to two crews of two workers for leaf pick-up as a result of the cases and following quarantining.

“That means it’s not as pretty, it’s not as nice … and it kills them, because they really want to do a bang-up job,” Nicklas said.

Nicklas said the city will try to get a third truck out and keep pushing on with available city resources. He said city officials continue to follow the health department's protocols regarding the positive cases within city staff.

“They’re doing everything they can," Nicklas said. "And we know we’re getting a cold snap and some rain, and they’re just going to keep working through it for the rest of the month.”

The update comes as nearly 300 more DeKalb County residents were reported as positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend, according to the DeKalb County Health Department on Monday.

Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane noted just as much during his report earlier in the Monday meeting.

“I’m going to ask people to continue to wear masks – those of you who haven’t, please do so," Finucane said. "It’s very important. As you may have heard today, several more regions were put on more restrictions, as does Region 1 continue to be in. We have to all work together to try and control this. Hopefully, within six months, the vaccine will be out and will be widely available.”

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said after Finucane's comments that city employees are given daily wellness and temperature checks. He said he stands firm on his belief that the city has made the messaging clear to urge residents to socially distance themselves, continue to wear their masks, continue to wash their hands and to be considerate of others around them overall.

"We take this very, very seriously," Smith said.

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