Typically marked by a widespread return to professional form, the first work week of the new year has instead been marred by the effects of the latest Omicron-led COVID-19 spike, The Wall Street Journal reports, as employers contend with an ongoing onslaught of coronavirus-related staff shortages.
This recent bout of employee absences is just "the latest strain on public and private sectors already worn down by the pandemic, supply chain snarls, labor shortages and rising prices," writes the Journal. Though many employees are reporting mild COVID symptoms, they must still miss multiple shifts, further complicating the already-stressful burden of scheduling.
Difficulty finding a COVID test has also proved a challenge for those attempting to determine whether or not they can head into work that day.
"We have gotten to the point this week where there are a number of shifts that nobody can fill," Lena DeGloma, owner of a Brooklyn-based wellness spa, told the Journal.
Acccording to Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, the latest spike in cases — though possibly temporary — could "deal a significant hit to the economy over the next month or two," he wrote in a Wednesday report. In fact, more than an estimated 5 million Americans could find themselves isolating at home in the coming days, he said.
To ease the staffing strain, some managers and owners have even opted to fill in at their establishments as waiters, dishwashers, or — better yet — de facto health officials.
"I feel like I have to take on the role of contract [sic] tracer, just to be sure everyone stays safe," said DeGloma, of the Brooklyn spa.
"I am strung out and tired," added Washington-based restaurant owner Greg Casten. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.