MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Across the country, workers are calling out sick due to the wrath of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Staffing shortages have been felt across several industries, from the airlines to the medical field, and now, retailers are beginning to feel the crunch, too.
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Macy’s is shorting their store hours for the rest of the month as coronavirus cases continue to go up. A Walmart in Auburndale, Florida closed its doors temporarily Monday because too many employees were out sick. A cleaning crew was called to sanitize the building.
One Walmart shopper was shocked to see the retailer close its doors.
“I came here, and for the first time ever, I saw Walmart closed, which is a surprise to me!” he said.
It’s an especially tough time for small businesses such as restaurants that already don’t have enough employees. Tupelo Honey Café in Raleigh, North Carolina put a sign up on their doors, letting customers know they were understaffed. Manager Abby Dearlove said at first it was a workforce shortage, but now it’s the sick calls.
“We are having the issues of servers and team members getting sick and not being able to come into work. Double whammy,” she said.
St. Louis resident Jesse Shaw said it took 10 hours for an ambulance to arrive after his brother fell ill Sunday afternoon.
Josh Ross, the director for Gillespie-Benld Area Ambulance Service, said the problem is getting out of hand.
“The problem that we have right now is that it is just a lack of people,” he said.
This comes as the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Tuesday that a record 4.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in November, confirming now more than ever that Americans are burned out and the ‘Great Resignation’ will likely continue into 2022.
Some school districts are being forced to switch to remote learning amid the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.
In Michigan, a new law allows schools to use non-teaching staff like cafeteria workers and bus drivers to fill in as substitute teachers. The only requirement is a person must have a high school diploma. The new legislation is facing mixed reviews from education professionals in the state
“If someone comes in, do they know how to deal with student behavior?” said Mary Bouwense with the Grand Rapids Education Association. “Do they know how to read a lesson plan?”
About 85,000 Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19, just short of the delta-surge peak of about 94,000 in early September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The all-time high during the pandemic was about 125,000 in January of last year.