Coronavirus: Knox Co. utility workers dubbed the ‘QuaranTeam’ stay locked up at water facility amid COVID-19 pandemic


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — You’ve heard of quarantine, but what about “quaran-team?” A group of four utility workers, dubbing themselves the QuaranTeam.

First Utility District of Knox County sharing on Facebook that four of their workers volunteered to lock themselves inside a drinking water facility to keep operations safe and going smoothly amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Bill Longworth, Jordan Durham, Craig Mayes & Chris Smith (left to right) volunteered to quarantine at a First Utility District of Knox County water plant.

For about a week now Bill Longworth, Jordan Durham, Craig Mayes and Chris Smith have all been quarantined at a water treatment facility.

“We are doing well. It’s nice to see some sunshine out, so, we’re doing good,” said Craig Mayes, Environmental Compliance with FUD Knox.

It’s been an adjustment for the four, but they’ve all worked together for a long time.

Before going into quarantine, the four men were screened for COVID-19.

“It was kind of a drive-thru type set-up and we all came back negative. We do monitor our temperature about every four hours just in case someone does run a temperature, we can put some other plans in place,” said Mayes.

The Quaran-team soon after starting their lock in at a water treatment facility.

Mayes says their work day to day is pretty much normal, “We have daily checks and readings, that sort of thing, water treatment system. Chris is over our maintenance and we’ve been going through making sure everything’s running right. It’s really just business as usual and that’s the way we like it.”

In their downtown the QuaranTeam is relaxing and cooking.

“We’ve watched a few movies,” added Chris Smith a Water Treatment Operator.

“Doing more Skype now than I ever have. We’re just doing it day by day. Skype and those type of things, FaceTime, makes it a whole lot easier,” said Bill Longworth a Water Tratment Operator.

But the team is focused and in communication with FUD Knox management every day, twice a day, prepared to stay in quarantine for as long as needed.

“There are a lot of things to be concerned about right now and we don’t want drinking water to be one of them. So as this thing goes, we’ll go,” said Mayes.

Self-quarantine has been a good learning experience for Jordan Durham, a Water Treatment Operator Trainee, “I started working here just beginning of this year, I’ve never worked at a water plant before and I knew that I’d be going to night shift eventually and I figured the best time to learn is when I’ve got three other people here with me.”

Hearing their nickname, QuaranTeam, Mayes says it’s awesome, “But there’s a whole group of guys here that aren’t in here, our distribution guys, waste water guys who are working just as hard and we are so when you look at the team, there’s a whole greater team that we really appreciate.”

You can follow the Quaran-team’s journey on Facebook or on Instagram @FUDKnox.

For more information on the World Health Organization’s guidelines regarding water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19, click here.

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