Chatham County workers want cleaner working conditions as COVID-19 fears increase

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Some Chatham County Public Works employees are voicing their concerns over proper protection against COVID-19.

Tarsha Rogers says she afraid of contracting coronavirus at work and not being able to go home to her family.

“I’m somebody’s mother, I’m somebody’s daughter, I’m somebody’s sister, I’m somebody’s grandmother and I want to go home to my family,” said Rogers.

For the last 10 years, she’s worked for Chatham County. She’s currently a driver for the stormwater management department of public works.

Every day, she has at least five people riding with her in her county vehicle. She says this worries her because it prevents them from practicing social distancing.

“I’m probably jeopardizing my job right now speaking out. But if I don’t speak out, who will?” said Rogers. NOW spoke to other drivers and many of them agreed, saying they also need to be given the proper cleaning products in order to feel safe while on the job.

Drivers say the county gave them two disinfectant spray bottles to be used to clean the roughly five or six trucks being used by the department.

“We need gloves,” said Joseph Pastures. “They gave us a little spray for the truck, but one spray bottle I guess is a gallon. That’s going to last one or two days. And we need to sanitize in the morning, and in the evening.”

Many of the drivers have been supplying their own cleaning products such as Lysol or hand sanitizer.

Driver Tonya Toby says she brings cleaner from home, as well as gloves and hand sanitizer, so she can properly protect herself and clean her truck.

Still, Toby and others are fearful of what will happen when they run out of these products and cannot buy more from the store on their own.

Toby says the county gave them masks today, but they are not the N95 masks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend for usage.

News 3 reached out to Chatham County for a statement was told the county will be changing their protocol in the trucks.

This is part of the statement from Chatham County Manager Lee Smith.

When the public health emergency was declared, all crews were issued personal protection equipment (PPE) and disinfectant cleaning supplies.

We understand that our employees are concerned by Coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to make sure our employees are safe at work and stay healthy. We provide critical services to our residents and need to ensure we are healthy while to doing so.

Chatham County Manager Lee Smith

But for many of the drivers, their biggest concerns are being able to stay healthy while taking care of family members at home.

“I have a brother. He just had a liver transplant and I have to help take care of him,” said Toby. “But I can’t go there now because of the fact that I’m working at the county and we’re getting all these different people going in there. And if I go see him, I might take something over to him.”

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