A Spectrum technician says the cable TV and internet service provider is putting workers at risk by requiring them to continue making routine house calls for equipment installation and repairs during the coronavirus outbreak.

The employee, who contacted the Portland Press Herald and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said most technicians don’t have gloves or hand sanitizer and were recently told they could not ask customers if they had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Gov. Janet Mills announced a statewide stay-at-home order starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, restricting Mainers’ movement and activities as health officials attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. More than two dozen other states have issued similar orders.

“Every co-worker I have talked to is frightened, and we have begged Spectrum to make changes like only having us respond to customers who have service out, but it has not happened,” the employee said. The company recently gave each worker a $25 restaurant gift card for their continued service, he said.

Similar complaints by Spectrum employees have been reported by news websites BuzzFeed and Gizmodo. Spectrum is a brand of Charter Communications, the second-largest cable provider in the U.S. Among they employees’ concerns is that they still must do routine work in customers’ homes, such as installing an extra cable TV box in a spare bedroom, which they say is not essential work.

Charter spokeswoman Lara Pritchard said technicians are still making some in-home service calls but have ceased in-home installation services in markets such as Maine, where self-installation is available. Technicians will enter customers’ homes only if they cannot successfully self-install equipment with provided directions, online or telephone help, she said.

If customers request a service call they are asked if they are sick or under quarantine for possible exposure, Pritchard said.

“If they are, we will do everything we can to resolve their issue outside their home” she said. “Likewise, if our technician arrives at a customer location and determines a customer is exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms or learns that a customer is under quarantine, we will do everything possible outside the location to resolve the service issue, without entering the home.”

Technicians are encouraged to take their temperature at home before coming to work, and the company is continually communicating and educating its staff on best practices according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health and safety guidelines, and regularly disinfecting company service trucks, she said.


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