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The Travails Of A Garbage Collector During The Coronavirus Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone, including our essential workers on the front lines of waste disposal.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra on Tuesday talked to a waste collector who takes pride in his job, but said the pandemic has made it harder to do.

Call Carlo Hood a waste collector, call him a garbage man – it's all the same to him.

"I got pride in it," said Hood, of Flood Brothers. "I even got a tattoo of a garbage truck."

And what he does is essential.

"If this isn't getting picked up, who else is going to pick it up?" Hood said.

But the pandemic has changed what Hood loves to do in every way – from the face masks and extra gloves and hand sanitizer to his daily route.

"The home garbage – it's skyrocketed," Hood said.

In fact, waste collection companies in the city and around the country have had to change their routes completely to adjust to this new world of remote working.

With people staying at home, waste collection is moving routes away from closed businesses that are shuttered, and focusing more on residential areas – where Flood Brothers has seen a 25 to 30 percent increase.

And what they're seeing in those areas is different too – starting with parking.

"Alleys – that's my main route every day," Hood said. "People are parked on the corners."

And with people staying at home, they are getting more deliveries – which means more boxes.

"Everyone - you know, Amazon, UPS – they're ordering online," Hood said. "They don't break them down, they just chuck them right out."

He said those boxes that are not broken down take up space, meaning waste bins are overflowing more than usual.

"Piles up- stuff's all over like the bag with the diapers," Hood said. "Who knows where that diaper was at?"

Diapers, face masks, tissues – you name it, Hood has seen it all spill on the ground.

"People aren't tying their garbage bags, so now I'm getting exposed to it," Hood said.

And during a pandemic, the stakes are higher with exposure too.

"At end of the day, I'm a human being, you know?" Hood said. "I just want to get home in one piece just like everybody else."

And it's not just restaurants that are hurting economically. On top of the ways the pandemic has impacted the waste collection efforts, it is also implementing waste hauling firms financially.

Flood Brothers said clients that used to pay in 30 days are asking for 60- to 90-day extensions or not paying at all.

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