SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham Area Transit (CAT) announced Wednesday a spike in COVID-19 infections is leading to a negative impact on CAT’s services.

CAT says as of January 1, about 41 CAT employees tested positive for the virus and about 21 additional employees continue to quarantine after being exposed. Ten of CAT’s employees are out for COVID, including nine who are operators. 

CAT officials say those numbers combined with an ongoing staffing shortage, has resulted in significant disruptions of CAT services in recent weeks. 

Impacted services include CAT’s fixed-route, paratransit and ferry operations.

Despite the negative impacts, CAT says they plan to continue to maintain the current service schedule at this time. Some CAT operators have been working overtime. Supervisors and other CAT employees with commercial driver’s licenses have stepped up to cover routes.

Officials say customers should be prepared for unusually long delays due to the current issues impacting the transit service. In addition, CAT may need to reduce services in the coming weeks if the COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise.

“We know that the public has had to contend with so many disruptions from the pandemic and we had hoped that we would be at a point where things were starting to improve by now,” said interim CEO Valerie Ragland. “Unfortunately, things are trending the wrong way and we know our customers who depend on our services are once again experiencing hardships as a result. We ask once again for their patience and understanding as we face this ongoing struggle.”

CAT continues to attempt to fill operator vacancies through a recruitment campaign. The agency is also continuing to implement safety measures, such as reduced vehicle capacities, a mask mandate and enhanced sanitization of its vehicles and facilities. 

CAT encourages all of their employees, as well as customers to get vaccinated.

According to CAT, about 74 percent of CAT’s workforce is currently vaccinated.