Businesses struggling as employees call out sick


MIAMI (NewsNation Now) —  It seems like everyone knows someone who has COVID right now and employers say they are seeing it, too — in the form of sick days.

It has been nicknamed “The Great American Sick Out” and it’s impacting businesses throughout the country.

Pilots and flight attendants calling out sick, for instance, has triggered thousands of airline cancellations.

The winter wave of illnesses is, in some cases, forcing companies to take drastic measures to open their doors. In some instances, companies say some employees are starting to take advantage of the system.

In New York City, subway trains have been suspended because of crews calling out. The NYPD received more than 7,000 sick calls last week.

With school back after holiday break, teachers are also calling out. In Broward County, Florida, 1,650 teachers called out Monday.

Even Whoopi Goldberg called out from The View on Monday after testing positive for COVID.

“As you can see, we are back in boxes and doing the show remotely,” Joy Behar said.

The wave of callouts can be most harmful to smaller businesses.

At Zubi Supermarket in Miami, the owner was running a cash register Monday.

“If I don’t have another person to fill it, I have to,” said Ernie Perez, the owner. He said it has happened everyday for the last three weeks.

Jamie McDonnell is having the same problem. He owns an environmental testing company and landscaping service, called ProLab, with about 1,000 employees.

McDonnell encourages his employees who are really sick to stay home, but says some have taken advantage.

“One person tried to tell HR that they had COVID and they sent in a copy of a report and when HR zoomed into the report through the text message, it actually wasn’t that same person… it was someone else’s results,” McDonnell said. “I try to make intelligent decisions and say, ‘OK, do you have a fever? No. Do you have a loss of taste or smell? No. Then come to work. Wear a mask and come to work’,”

The situation is especially difficult because employers are already dealing with supply chain issues and a worker shortage.

“I need people in customer service, I need people in the warehouse for shipping, I need laboratory technicians, I need people in receiving, I need people for sales,” McDonnell said.

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