More than 230 Spectrum employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the New York attorney general’s office to open an inquiry into the company after it required thousands of employees to show up for work, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The company, also known as Charter Communications—which provides internet, cable, and phone services to 29 million customers—has been classified as essential as millions of Americans are under enforced orders to stay home and work remotely. The company has 95,000 employees across the country, including 40,000 who work in call centers and 55,000 field workers. Half of the employees who tested positive for the virus have worked in offices or call centers and two field workers have died, according to the Times. “We have dramatically reduced the number of employees going into the field or into the office while maintaining the efficacy of our business operations that is so critical to fighting this pandemic,” Cameron Blanchard, a company spokeswoman, told the Times.
The company has reportedly been divided over whether to reduce capacity in offices. Engineer Nick Wheeler sent an internal email to hundreds of employees on March 13, writing, “Coming into the office now is pointlessly reckless. Charter, like the rest of us, should do what is necessary to help reduce the spread of coronavirus,” according to the Times. As of Monday, almost 8,000 people have signed a petition urging Spectrum CEO Tom Rutledge to allow employees to work at home.