BALTIMORE — Officials with Baltimore's Department of Public Works addressed trash pileups across the city during a press conference Tuesday.
Once again, officials cited COVID-19 as the reason for residents experience a delay in trash pickup. Some residents complained not having their trash picked up in two weeks.
DPW said department wide it had a total of 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Ten of those were workers at the Eastern Sanitation Yard. Concern about the spread forced the department to shutdown the yard two weeks ago. City officials said that led to a 50% reduction in curbside pickup.
DPW Acting Director Matthew Garbark said Tuesday trash collection will return to as close to normal as possible in the coming week as sanitation employees who were quarantined will be returning to work.
"We did the right thing by quarantining workers to protect their families, their coworkers and everyone else," Garbark said.
"Our plan moving forward is to focus on the missed, delayed trash collection and then focus on the restarting of other services," said John Chalmers, head of the Bureau of Solid Waste. "There are 112 employees scheduled to return to work Wednesday. This will significantly improve operations."
DPW said trash tonnage is up 22 percent. The increase is due to residents adding recycling to mixed refuse collection.
Garbark said a significant problem with trash being picked up is that alleys are covered with trash. Officials are asking people not to dump items in these alleyways as trucks can't get through to empty garbage cans.
Anyone experiencing missed collections is urged to call 311. Garbark stressed that trash collection was never suspended. Only curbside recycling pickup has been suspended.