In mid-March, life as we knew it changed. I recall watching the news on a Friday night, hearing about a virus that had spread in China, not fathoming by the next week that same virus would be within the U.S. Although we’ve read stories and seen pictures of past similar instances, it was surreal to realize COVID-19 would be a global pandemic we would all face.
Within two weeks of that news story, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced within our service area in Yoakum. The GVEC team immediately stepped into action working to identify the measures we would take to help protect the health of our customers and employees. Our Emergency Action Plan, which we continually study and update, helped guide us through the initial decisions of these unprecedented times.
GVEC responded by following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. President to practice social distancing. We closed our lobbies to the public while keeping the drive-thrus open for our customers’ convenience. Employees that could perform their jobs from home were asked to work remotely. By the end of March, we had almost 100 employees on the job at home. Our field employees were outfitted with additional personal protective equipment (PPE), as recommended by the CDC, to continue serving our members and customers. Conference calls and video chats became the new standard of internal communication. I can’t say enough good things about how the GVEC employee family adjusted so quickly and almost seamlessly to this new norm. They make me proud every day, and it was no surprise they rose to the occasion, as always.
For the next several weeks, the nation was glued to the internet and television to keep up with the rapidly changing ripple effects of slowing the spread. With our services of electricity, AC/heating and internet all deemed as essential services, GVEC was able to continue meeting our customers’ needs and cautiously carry on with field operations during this time. We were proud to fulfill new orders for internet service to support students and teachers adapting to distance learning as well as work with some of our rural school districts to provide hot spot access for remote education. Our GVEC Home employees remained available 24/7 for AC issues. As Texas began to experience higher than ever unemployment rates, GVEC was blessed to be able to care for our neighbors and employees during this time. We were, and continue to be, thankful to be in this position.
As I write these comments, no one can say for certain what the coming months will bring with COVID-19. What I can say with confidence is that GVEC will remain committed to doing the right thing for our customers and employees. We will continue to closely communicate with our people to ensure their satisfaction in the PPE and comfort level in the services they are providing. We will continue to provide your essential services as long as we are safely able to do so. We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our members and customers on payment arrangements for electric and internet bills as well as provide resources where possible.
By the time you are reading this, my sincere hope is the recommended measures have put a stop to the virus, and we can all return to our lives carrying with us the important lessons of it all—whatever that may mean to each of us, individually. Whatever the future holds, know that GVEC will continue to do what we can to support you every step of the way.
I am always interested in your comments and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, by email at email@example.com or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, Texas 78629.