COVID-19 news conference

Dr. John McNeill speaks at a daily news conference about COVID-19 in the Crossroads.

Q: Should trade workers (plumbers, electricians, HVAC specialists) still go to work?

A: People still have to make a living in spite of the virus, said Dr. John McNeill, Victoria’s health authority.

Nevertheless, he said he wouldn’t have a trade worker come into his house at this point, when there is suspected community spread in the county.

“In my house, I can tell you my shower doesn’t work right now,” McNeill said. “We were going to have a plumber come fix it and he called a couple of days ago ... but I told him, ‘Why don’t we wait until after this is over?’ I just think that’s prudent.”

“To me, personally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have people that you don’t know their history coming in to your home,” he said. “I’ll throw that out there.”

McNeill said during the process of contract tracing, which occurs after a person has tested positive for COVID-19, health authorities look at the day a person became ill and then look at where they went and what they did in the days before and after. He said this is important in the process of identifying possible spread of the virus because a person can become contagious before they show symptoms.

“If they’ve been in 12 different peoples’ houses fixing something, then those are 12 households that we need to look at for the possibility of transmission of this disease,” he said.

In spite of McNeill’s personal decision to delay his shower repair, trade workers like plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists have been designated “essential” workers in other parts of the state where shelter-in-place orders have been issued.

Victoria does not currently have a shelter-in-place order, which would prohibit all but “essential” workers from leaving their place of residence for anything but activities such as exercise and grocery shopping.

“We’re open for business,” said Ben Heilker, whose family owns Victoria Air Conditioning LTD.

McNeill reiterated his advice to all workers: “If they’re ill, to please not go to work.”

Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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