By Jaimie Julia Winters

The coronavirus has hit the Montclair DPW department and caused a shortage of workers who have either tested positive or are quarantined due to exposure, officials said.

Wednesday morning, the township issued an alert stating bulk waste collection scheduled that day for section II may not be picked up until Saturday due to “a manpower shortage.” Later in the day, township officials announced recycling would be suspended as of Friday, Feb. 26, until further notice. Garbage collection will continue.

Communications Director Katya Wowk did not respond to a message asking how many workers were out due to COVID-19. 

Since last Thursday, the township has counted 37 cases among residents. The highest number of new cases, at 11, came on Sunday. Only one new case was reported Saturday.

“The Department of Community Services is seeing a significant decrease in its workforce due to COVID-19, even with substantial protective and social distancing measures in place since March 2020 – this includes employees testing positive and those who were exposed to the virus,” township officials stated in a release this afternoon.

Due to what the township called an “unprecedented impact on staffing,” the following collection schedules will be implemented effective Friday, Feb. 26:

  • Curbside recycling collection will be temporarily suspended until further notice.
  • Recycling drop-off at the Community Services yard (219 North Fullerton Ave.) will be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow residents an opportunity to dispose of their accumulating recyclables.
  • The existing refuse collection schedule will continue without interruption.
  • All other non-essential Department of Community Services operations and activities will be temporarily suspended until further notice to allow all available personnel to assist with refuse collection operations.

Recycling and refuse left curbside on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and on Thursday, Feb. 25 will be collected, however, given staffing levels, crews may not be able to complete pick-ups on those days. If refuse or recycling is not picked up on either day, residents can leave it at the curb and it will be collected on or before Saturday, Feb. 27.