BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore City Department of Public Works supervisor has died after contracting COVID-19, the department said Thursday afternoon.
The worker, Charles Johnson, was a plant operations supervisor at the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant. He tested positive at the beginning of November and spent the past two weeks hospitalized in intensive care.
“I, along with the entire DPW family, extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Mr. Johnson’s family and express our deep appreciation for his 45 years of service to the City of Baltimore,” the department’s acting director, Matthew Garbark, said in a statement.
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In a statement, Mayor-elect Brandon Scott called Johnson “a dedicated resident, and servant of our city.”
“The loss of Mr. Johnson is a reminder that this pandemic can hit us all,” Scott said. “I cannot stress enough how imperative it is that we continue to follow the mandates put in place for our health and safety. Protect yourself and those around you by wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home when possible.”
Johnson is the latest city employee to die from the virus; in October, city leaders announced an employee within the health department’s Bureau of School Health had died. The employee, whose name was not provided, worked for the department since 2006.
In June, a “significant number” of employees at another DPW facility, the Eastside Sanitation Yard, tested positive for COVID-19, leading the department to suspend operations there. DPW has faced staffing issues throughout the pandemic due to coronavirus cases and suspended curbside recycling as of August 31. It has not since resumed.
Due to the backlog, two city councilmembers called for public works employees to get a $5,000 bonus for working during the pandemic.
“It is one of the hardest jobs in all of city government is to be a sanitation worker,” Councilman Zeke Cohen said in late September, adding the bonus is “the least we can do.”
Johnson’s death is not the only loss the department has faced this year; another public works employee, Donald Savoy, died while working his route in late August. Exact details of his death were not provided.