CHICAGO (WLS) -- Essential workers continue to keep your home functioning during the coronavirus pandemic, whether your internet has gone out while you're working from home, or a pipe is clogged, or a different problem.
These fixes can't be put on hold because of COVID-19, but safety is top of mind for both consumers and workers.
"It worked out great. It went real smooth. He was in and out and clean. Really took away a lot of my anxiety," said Winnie Murphy.
Murphy needed plumbing work done in her Tinley Park home, and it couldn't wait for the pandemic to pass.
"So I was very nervous about someone coming in, but they assured us they were really good and thorough in all their disinfecting," Murphy said.
John Jennison is a plumber with the Local 130 Union and Norman Mechanical. He did the job.
Governor JB Pritzker has deemed plumbers along with electricians and exterminators as "essential" trades, allowing them to operate despite the shelter in place order.
"When we walk into someone's house, we make sure we have our safety glasses on, our masks, protective wear, gloves, booties. We have a disinfectant spray. We come in and spray everything down prior to cleaning and spray everything down when we are done," Jennison said.
Local 130 said those precautions are guidelines for every worker entering your home.
Experts say homeowners should wipe everything down prior to an in-home visit, keep the recommended six-foot distance and consider wearing a mask.
"The motto for the plumbers is to protect the health of the nation," said Jennison, who added that the pandemic should not mean higher rates for home visits. "Our prices have not changed at all. We are not going to capitalize on other people's misfortune."
"Our first most priority is the safety and wellbeing of our customers and of our employees," said Jack Segel, regional vice president of communications for Comcast. "Cable and internet services like Comcast are also at high speed right now, ensuring your home offices are running."
Comcast said Chicago has seen a 60 percent increase in internet traffic.
"We are doing most of the work outside of the home. We can get a lot outside of the home," Segel said.
Besides outdoor work, Comcast suggests consumers first check whether the problem can be fixed by rebooting WiFi or consulting a representative by phone. If you are sick, don't ask for a technician to come into your home.
"Sometimes you don't need to have a tech come out, sometimes you can manage that stuff on your own," Segal said.
If they do have to go inside your home, Comcast techs are also taking precautions like wearing masks and gloves, and using sanitizer.
AT&T also noted that internet, telephone and video connectivity are "essential services" and their employees are taking similar safety measures with their workers on the frontlines.
The same precautions are being taken at new construction sites which have been deemed "essential" for trade workers like electricians and plumbers.
"They are essential right now because if the job sites are closed down it could cause personal injury, arson, theft," explained Jennison. "This way, when the job sites are open, it creates a safer environment."
Remember, you should only have techs and workers in your home if you absolutely have to. Try to prevent that emergency plumbing call if you can. Avoid flushing things like facial tissues, disinfectant wipes, baby wipes and dental floss, and make sure you have a good plunger on standby.
COMCAST INFORMATION FOR CUSTOMERS:
Recently, we updated our technician protocols, adding more guidelines to limit technician interactions within our customers' homes to only when it's necessary to ensure they are connected to the essential services that they need. For additional information, please visit https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19-essential-services.
We have digital solutions that can help customers with many of their service issues and provide general information about their Xfinity accounts. Customers can visit MyAccount at Xfinity.com or download the Xfinity MyAccount app on the Android and iOS app stores. They can also direct message @comcastcares on Twitter or visit the Comcast page on Facebook and send a direct message.
To learn more about our comprehensive COVID-19 response, how customers can stay connected and manage their services, please visit www.xfinity.com/prepare.
Xfinity Statement on Customer and Employee Services, Safety, and Resources
How will the Xfinity network handle so many people coming online to work and complete classwork from home? We engineer our network capacity to handle spikes and shifts in usage patterns, and we continuously test, monitor and enhance our systems and network to ensure they are ready to support customer usage as needed.
AT&T INFORMATION FOR CUSTOMERS:
"COVID-19 is an unprecedented event for the country - and in times of emergency, communication is critical."
That's from Tim Ketchie, communications unit leader for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And he's right. Companies that own the network to keep people connected are mission critical - now more than ever before.
AT&T was built for a time like this. When customers need us most, we show up. That's what we do. It's who we've been for 144 years as a company. It's who we are today.
We own the network that connects parents to children, students to teachers, doctors to patients, our elderly and disabled population to resources for assistance. Whether it's working from home, taking online classes, streaming videos or games, or conferencing with a doctor via telehealth services, our network is critical.
I have the privilege of leading AT&T Field Operations, and our team is at the frontline to this crucial work. We keep our network alive for our customers.
Not only is it our mission to keep customers and communities connected, but it's our civic duty. And we take that duty seriously. It's even more critical during a public health crisis, especially for our healthcare providers, first responders and others delivering vital services.
Your AT&T technicians are the boots on the ground when a customer's voice, data or internet is down and needs fixing.
Every day, thousands of technicians across the country are entering a customer's home or business to repair or install service. Every day, they are trusting that they'll remain healthy and able to work. Day after day, they leave their homes to keep their neighbors and communities connected as our national emergency looms around them.
Internet, telephone and video connectivity are essential services, and the installation and repair of those services is work technicians can't accomplish from their own homes. So, they go to the frontlines, and out into an uncertain world to keep us connected. They are dedicated. They show up.
These technicians are restoring connectivity at:
Homes ... where parents are working and kids are being schooled remotely.
Businesses ... where those who must be in the office, due to the nature of their work, have a critical need to stay connected.
Hospitals ... where doctors and nurses rely on connectivity to save lives and to receive the latest updates and developments in their fight against this new virus.
Quarantine centers ... where both the medical staff and the patients in their care need to stay connected to the outside world.
While their mission is essential to keep our customers connected, we also recognize that there is a balance between providing service and keeping our technicians safe. To accomplish that balance, and as the situation evolves, we're providing them with new policies and procedures, as outlined below.
Customers will notice technicians asking appropriate COVID-19 related questions before arrival.
Technicians will dispatch only if they have a way to keep their hands and equipment clean.
Our technicians will practice social distancing while working, all while delivering on our commitment to service.
We're also updating the tools we use to communicate with customers before dispatch (like sending text messages) to provide self-help and or appointment rescheduling where appropriate for safety.
From Hurricane Harvey to the California wildfires to the recent tornado in Nashville - we keep our country connected. COVID-19 is no different - our mission remains the same. When disaster strikes our country and communities, we show up. That's what we do.
AT&T was built for this. And we will be there.
Coronavirus tips: In-home worker safety top of mind for consumers and workers