Houston Health Department transforms office into winter wonderland during holiday season

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HOUSTON – The city of Houston COVID-19 call center said the phones have been ringing off the hook as of late.

Although work is busy, employees said they are determined not to miss out on the Christmas spirit even if they have to miss out on quality time with their loved ones.

“We’re like a family because we work and spend so many hours here,” said Clint Broussard, a customer service representative.

Only 43 people service a city of 3 million at the call center, but no one here is complaining.

“We just wanted to present a team that could really provide for the citizens of Houston, and I think we did a great job with that,” said assistant manager, Jason Trotter.

With the pandemic raging on, customer service representatives often work 14-hour shifts and up to 70 hours a week, answering calls and directing people to free testing and vaccine centers.

Since the pandemic began, local health officials said the representatives have answered more than 800,000 calls. And instead of becoming Scrooges during the holidays, they’re making the best of it.

“It really brought us all together as a team. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, so we really just wanted to do something here to kind of cheer us all up,” said Ryann Lucas, a customer care representative.

What were once ordinary cubicles, now look more like Santas workshops, candy factories, and winter wonderlands.

“We hear so many things throughout the day, so coming in here and having decorations make you cheerful and happy and really help set the tone for the rest of the day,” Lucas said.

“Having the decorations, it’s just, it just brings nothing but joy,” Broussard said.

Their gifts keep on giving. The city’s COVID-19 call center will be closed on Christmas Eve and open New Year’s Eve.

The COVID-19 hotline number is 832-393-4220. It’s open Monday- Saturday from 7:30 am - 4 p.m.

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