'I think twice before I pick up things,' says sanitation driver working during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 22:45:10-04

YORKTOWN, Va. - Driving a sanitation truck is something Andres Delacruz knows best. He’s been doing it for over 30 years.

However, because of the coronavirus outbreak, he’s added an extra step to his routine.

“With my kids and my wife and family at home, I’m more cautious,” with how he handles tons and tons of garbage every day. “I think twice before I pick up certain things,” he adds.

Delacruz is one of many employees with Republic Services working around the clock on the Peninsula to make sure the trash still gets picked up, sorted and ready for the landfill - an essential job that must be done to prevent an even bigger problem.

“Not only rats, but then you have everything that goes around within - maggots, flies!" he adds.

In the pile of junk, you can find anything from old mattresses to cardboard and a Christmas tree - personal items that are coming out of people’s homes, this sometimes causing a concern.

“It’s always in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day you have a job to do, so when it's go time, it's go time,” said Jeff Cherry. He’s an operator at the transfer station.

Ever since the "stay at home" order, management at Republic Services says they now see about twice amount of trash on the tipping floor.

Related: Extra trash, yard waste in Virginia Beach as so many people stay home

“We collect about 35,000 homes a week on the Peninsula, and week over week, we are talking 230 tons more trash,” said Scott Franklin. He’s one of the division managers with Republic Services.

To support their crews, Republic Services provides their workers with masks, gloves and protective glasses when in the field.

The company also is also cleaning and sanitizing their trucks and equipment several times a day.

To help give back to the community, drivers are also gifted with gift cards to local restaurants in the area to help put money back into the community.

Leaders say this is part of a $20 million nationwide initiative called “Committed to Serve." So far, they’ve given away $36,000 in gift cards to their employees to use at local businesses.

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