The City of Yakima Refuse Division saw a ten percent increase in the amount of garbage since the pandemic started, which made some crew members worry about their safety when collecting so much trash.
With the increased amount of garbage coming in, crews had to take extra safety precautions to make sure they don't pick up the virus while picking up the trash.
"We all felt uncomfortable doing it, but as essential workers, it’s gotta be done, with all the safety precautions we take, I feel pretty comfortable," said a City of Yakima garbage truck driver, Randy Boettcher.
Boettcher said he wants his community members to not only bag their trash but also tightly tie bags before throwing them out to ensure trash doesn't fall out.
With only 14 crew members on staff, the city may have to resort to garbage pickups every other week if too many crew members get sick, said the City of Yakima's Solid Waste and Recycling Manager, Loretta Zammarchi.
"We're just like everybody else, we have families, our drivers are concerned about taking it home to their children and babies, and that is why we have our safety instructions," said Zammarchi.
Crew members wear masks, gloves, and disinfect their trucks after every trip to the landfill. With the amount of garbage Yakima is seeing, drivers have to make trips to the landfill twice as much.
The City of Yakima Refuse Division no longer picks up trash outside garbage bins or on the sidewalk, so they ask everyone to put all bags properly inside their bin.
"We’ll let the customer know that we will pick it up this time, but in the future, you really have to bag your garbage because if there’s a lot of loose garbage, we will not pick it up," said Zammarchi.
The Refuse Division can charge people who have an overflowing garbage bin, so they offer temporary bins to anyone who may need an extra one online.
Boettcher said he wants to thank everyone in the community for doing their part and keeping his crew safe.