Several Gallatin utility workers are staying at the water treatment plant during the pandemic

Posted at 8:25 AM, Apr 22, 2020

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Six utility workers in Gallatin have not left the water treatment plant in nearly a month because of COVID-19.

In an effort to not contract the new coronavirus, give it to co-workers and compromise the 24/7 workflow at the plant, workers are staying on the property.

"I thought am I losing it," said plant manager Bennie Baggett. "Am I thinking of something really crazy or trying to make sure I have this covered?"

Baggett has worked for Gallatin Public Utilities for 32 years. As chief operator of the water facility, he is also in charge of making the schedule.

"Really all I was trying to make sure was I would be able to fill the shifts," Baggett said.

Five people volunteered when he asked if people would camp out at work during the pandemic.

Baggett went to All Access Coaching to ask for a bus for his employees to sleep on.

"We thought we would get the 1997 model or something because we were begging, but it is top of the line. It's got 12 bunks in the middle of it so everybody has their own bunk. It's got a little seating area in the front too," he said.

Baggett wanted everyone to have a place to relax.

"[It's important] being able to get outside the facility where you just don't see it and are not inside listening to all the noise of the plant," he said.

He's allowing family to visit as long as they keep a safe distance. He said other people have been dropping off meals for the workers and tokens of their appreciation.

"We get honks everyday, signs out in the yard. It's kind of crazy," he said.

The plant manager said every worker is being compensated for their extra time.

This unique quarantine has made Baggett value his co-workers even more.

"You do learn a lot about the people you are with. You start appreciating them more. You learn what people can do when you stay with them for 28 days, day in and day out," he said.

The workers plan to stay at the plant until at least May 2.

According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Most municipal drinking water systems, like Gallatin's, use filtration and disinfection which should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.