Although more than 40 states have ordered the closure of non-core businesses and asked residents to stay at home to stem the spread of the virus, supermarkets are among the retailers that remain open. Thousands of grocery store workers have continued to report to work as infections and death rates in the United States continue to climb, and many report long shifts and additional workloads to meet the growing demand. Many workers say they don’t have enough protective gear to cope with hundreds of customers a day. Dozens of grocers have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks.
Industry experts say increasing infection and death of workers is likely to have a knock-on effect on grocers’ ability to retain and hire new workers at a time when they are looking to quickly hire thousands of ‘temporary employees. Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, hires 150,000 workers, while Kroger adds more than 10,000. Many offer an additional $ 2 an hour and promising masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. But finding people willing to work on the front lines for little more than the minimum wage could be an increasingly difficult sale, according to supermarket analyst Phil Lempert.
“One of the biggest mistakes made by supermarkets at the start was not to allow employees to wear masks and gloves as they wanted,” he said. “They are starting to be proactive now, but it will be even more difficult to hire hundreds of thousands of new workers. We’re going to start to see people say, “I’m just going to be unemployed instead of risking my life for a temporary job.” “”
Some companies have started installing plexiglass breath guards at cash registers and are forcing customers to stand six feet apart from each other in line. The country’s two largest grocers, Walmart and Kroger, are starting to check employee temperatures at the start of each shift and will provide workers with gloves and masks.
The extra precautions come amid a wave of strikes and petitions to get employers like Amazon, Trader Joe’s and the grocery delivery service Instacart to take extra steps to protect workers. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)
These efforts are likely to take on a new emergency, analysts say, as supermarket workers across the country begin to see their colleagues fall ill with Covid-19. More than 356,000 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday afternoon, and nearly 10,500 died.
A Trader Joe’s employee, suffering from underlying health conditions, died Monday night of lust 19, Kenya spokesman Friend-Daniel said. The Scarsdale, N.Y., store where the employee worked was closed until Thursday to give workers “time to treat and cry”, Friend-Daniel said in an email. Employees will continue to be paid during the shutdown and will receive two additional days of paid leave, she said.
Trader Joe’s stores in Brooklyn and Philadelphia were also temporarily closed on Monday for additional cleaning and disinfection.
In Illinois, Walmart workers Phillip Thomas, 48, and Wando Evans, 51, both working at a store in Evergreen Park near Chicago, died in late March, union advocate said. United for Respect.
A Walmart spokesperson said the company was heartbroken. The grocery giant has hired an outside company to clean up “sensitive” areas, such as the main entrance, carts, registers, and bathrooms. He also began installing sneeze guards at cash registers and began to limit the number of customers who can shop at the same time.
Leilani Jordan, 27, a slut from Giant’s Campus Way South in Largo, died in Maryland last week.
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m going to work because no one else is going to help the elderly do their shopping,’ said her mother, Zenobia Shepherd, to the Post. “She only stopped going to work when she couldn’t breathe.”
Her last day of work was March 16, according to Giant spokesperson Daniel Wolk. Jordan tested positive for coronavirus in late March and died on Wednesday.
Wolk said the company had cleaned and disinfected the store when it found out about Jordan’s diagnosis and provided advice to employees.