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'Will Take Us A While': Driver Shortages Due To COVID Could Impact Snow Cleanup Time

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts residents are urged to stay off the roads as a major winter storm arrives Wednesday night and is expected to bring 10-16 inches of snow to most of southern New England by the end of the day Thursday.

LATEST: Major Winter Storm To Bring Up To 16 Inches Of Snow To Massachusetts Thursday

Transportation Sec. Stephanie Pollack said that as a result of COVID-19 precautions, it could take longer than usual to clear the snow. Pollack said there is currently about 90% staff availability.

"State and local public works officials have some driver shortages due to the coronavirus. COVID-19 has impacted crew availability for the state and for some cities and towns," said Pollack.

"Please take this storm seriously because driving conditions will be difficult and the cleanup on Thursday will take us a while."

Gov. Charlie Baker said the good news about the storm is that there will be less people on the roads than most winter storms because of COVID-19 precautions.

"The vast majority of it's going to be falling at a point in time when most people should be home, based on the stay at home advisory we've got in place," said Baker.

MassDOT is planning a full deployment of equipment and personnel, Baker said. That means about 3,800 pieces of equipment will be clear snow on 15,000 miles of roads.

"I do think tomorrow is going to be a difficult day. We haven't seen a day like this around here in a long time," said Baker.

Pollack said driving conditions are expected to be dangerous "through what we used to call the morning commute."

"The best way to stay safe is to stay home if you possibly can," she said.

For crews, there will be coronavirus precautions in place. There won't be two people in a truck, break rooms are closed, and in some cases portable toilets are in place.

"We've been planning for a winter with the pandemic for months," said Pollack.

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