Philly311 is a customer service center that responds to city resident and visitor issues of a non-emergency nature. It occupies an office in City Hall and can be reached via phone, email, mobile applications, and a multitude of social media accounts. Residents and visitors can contact the service about everything from business licenses to recycling programs – agents are standing by to help find the answers.
So long as there are no bedbugs around.
The presence of a single bedbug will evidently shut down a call center responsible for fielding tens of thousands of requests per month.
The discovery of a single, dead bedbug prompted the service to shut down last week so an exterminator could be brought in to fumigate the office and search City Hall for further evidence of an infestation. No further evidence of the government-stalling pest could be found and operations restarted the following morning. NBC Philadelphia reports that the single-office extermination will cost the city approximately $2500. No data is available on the cost of the productivity lost as a result of the closure; although agents did field requests via email and social networks.
Bedbug history in the United States goes back for decades and the parasite was all but eradicated in the 90s. It is presumed, however, that new populations were introduced via international travelers and the bugs have staged a significant comeback since then.
More than just a simple nuisance, bedbugs will attach themselves to humans as they sleep and feast on their blood, leaving the victim with itchy, red welts upon waking. While the presence of bedbugs is not tied to any particular type of public health hazard, the CDC states that the excess scratching that may occur as the result of a bedbug bite can lead to secondary skin infections.
Further information about bedbugs can be found on the CDC’s website. Residents of Philadelphia are advised, however; perhaps ironically, that the city does not offer bedbug extermination services via Philly311.