Will Providence’s vaccine mandate for city employees impact snowstorm response?


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Cities and towns across Rhode Island are getting ready for what could be a massive snowstorm.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza says the city is prepared with a fleet of 100 trucks and is fully staffed despite snowplow driver shortages across the nation.

“This has the potential to be a pretty large storm. It’s going to challenge any city,” Mayor Elorza said.
“We’ve been replacing our fleet. We have a lot of new trucks that can move a lot of snow faster than in the past. We’re as ready as can be.”

The storm comes as Providence’s vaccine mandate for city employees goes into effect. According to the city, 95% of city employees are compliant with the new policy. At the Department of Public Works, only 4% are not. Employees won’t face discipline until February 8th.

“We’ve been in a good place throughout the winter, thankfully, but we know that can change in an instant with covid,” Mayor Elorza said. “We’ve had really, really strong compliance throughout the city, including the department of public works. This helps to keep them safe, it helps to stop the spread, and it makes it so that we have personnel ready to go for this storm that hits us and other storms throughout the winter.”

The mayor says Providence has also stopped relying on outside contractors to plow snow as many cities still do. He says they’ve worked to hire their own fleet of workers and typically rent extra equipment if needed. He says that’s helped with avoiding major staffing shortages.

“We have more capacity than we’ve had in the past. But at the same time, I’m not about to spike the football and say bring it on to this storm. It’s going to be a massive storm and a challenge for us and for everybody,” Mayor Elorza said.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island