NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey MVC employees testing positive for COVID-19 have caused about 100 agency closures since October.
CBS2’s Cory James went to demand answers from officials after speaking with people who are frustrated with the service.READ MORE: New Jersey Residents Wait In Long Lines At Lawrenceville MVC, Report Trouble Getting Appointments And Services
New Jersey resident Deep Ven can start his SUV, but he can’t drive it.
“You sort of feel disabled,” Ven said.
It’s a feeling the Newark father, here on a visa from India, got after getting a text from the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission saying his in-person driver’s license renewal appointment was canceled because of “unforeseen circumstances.”
“I shouldn’t have to lose my place in the queue, right?” Ven said. “There are no appointments available for the next two months.”
Kimberly Curtis is facing the same setback.
“It’s just unbelievable,” she said. “Can’t get an appointment for two to two and a half months.”
The mom of two recently got a ticket for driving on an expired license that she says she tried renewing in person since she had a change of address.
Curtis says she spent five hours waiting on the phone hoping to speak with an agency employee for help.
“And no one picked up the phone,” she said.READ MORE: Some New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Centers Now Seeing Customers By Appointment Only
CBS2 took their concerns to Sue Fulton, chief administrator of the New Jersey MVC.
“There’s been tens of thousands of appointments canceled. It’s terrible,” she said.
While Fulton admits staffing is an issue, she says the real problem is people booking appointments for services that can be done online.
“The issue is that too many people are going to the agency and don’t need to,” she said.
“With people booking appointments for something that they can do online, why is the website allowing them to do that?” James asked.
“Really good question. Actually, that’s a really smart question,” Fulton said.
The answer was complex. It ultimately comes down to website software updates that need to be made. Fulton says that is in the works and could take several weeks before it’s done.
“Is the MVC doing the best it can for New Jersey residents?” James asked.
“We didn’t foresee a lot of things … We’re continuing to make changes,” Fulton said.MORE NEWS: Drivers Wait On Long Lines As New Motor Vehicle Commission Facility Opens In Wayne, New Jersey
When it comes to closures at MVC centers, Fulton says because employees work in such close contact, they must shut down and quarantine the entire staff for two weeks when someone tests positive. That’s a procedure they plan to keep in place as long as COVID is a concern and until all their employees are fully vaccinated.