An employee of the Spectrum call center in McAllen tested positive for COVID-19 last month, a spokesman for Charter Communications confirmed Thursday, assuring the company was taking steps to guard against the spread of the virus.
The employee tested positive for the virus on March 25, according to an email sent to employees April 14.
The email, a copy of which was obtained by The Monitor, stated the employee was last in the office on March 14 and no other employees are known to have had “direct contact with this individual near the time the individual exhibited symptoms or was tested.”
The company confirmed on April 13 that the employee tested positive for the virus and shared that information with employees the following day, according Brian Anderson, senior director of communications for the Texas region at Charter.
In an email response, Anderson listed the precautions the company is taking at the call centers, which he said included continually communicating and educating staff on best practices according to the CDC guidelines and implementing “frequent and thorough cleanings of ‘high-touch’ areas in addition to the regular nightly cleanings.”
They are also implementing remote work options to allow some or their employees to work remotely, Anderson said, and are staggering shift and break schedules to limit the number of employees in their break rooms and cafeterias.
Employees are also being coached on customer escalations through an online chat so as stop in-person desk-side conversations.
“We have made clear, including in a message directly from our chairman and CEO to all employees, that any employee who is sick, or who is caring for someone who is sick, should stay home,” Anderson wrote. “If an employee needs to self-quarantine, they will not need to use their paid sick leave, but will continue to be paid and receive full benefits while under quarantine.”
The company, he added, has also given every employee an additional 15 days of COVID-19-related paid time off. Hourly workers who do not use that time off during the pandemic will be paid out the remaining unused days at the end of the year.
Though Hidalgo County is under an emergency shelter-at-home order, the call center for Spectrum is exempted from the order because their work is tied to the operations of internet and telecommunications systems, both of which are considered critical infrastructure.