A Walmart store in Massachusetts has closed down after 81 employees tested positive for coronavirus.
Officials said that the Walmart Supercenter in Worcester, roughly 50 miles outside of Boston, was shut down to undergo a deep cleaning following the positive infections.
The store's COVID-19 cases nearly quadrupled in less than a month
The first case was reported on April 8, and at the time of shutdown, only 23 employees tested positive. The number jumped by Sunday, May 3 as 58 more workers tested positive, bringing the total to 81 and counting.
Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus told WYCN-LD that the “inspectional services department will inspect the facility to make sure that the cleaning was done in compliance with our guidelines.”
A total of 391 employees were tested for the novel virus.
Employees did not wear face masks or protective gear, but safety measures have since been instated
According the Worcester Business Journal, employees did not wear face masks or any protective gear, which violated a recent city order and recently sparked May 1 protests from retail workers.
In March, Walmart reported that they began administering temperature checks to all employees before they start their shifts. Additionally, they made face masks and gloves available to employees who choose to wear them.
Hours have also been adjusted to allow employees more time to clean the store daily.
Additional precautions include aisles set up to permit one-way traffic and plexi-glass shields protect employees and customers at the checkout aisles.
“One of the biggest mistakes supermarkets made early on was not allowing employees to wear masks and gloves the way they wanted to,” said supermarket analyst Phil Lempert.
“They’re starting to become proactive now, but it’s still going to be much tougher to hire hundreds of thousands of new workers. We’re going to start seeing people say, ‘I’ll just stay unemployed instead of risking my life for a temporary job.’”
Workers across the country demand safer working conditions during the pandemic
On May 1, traditionally known as May Day, many retail workers from Amazon, Walmart, Amazon, and Whole Foods organized walk-offs to protect working conditions under the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement from Target employees organizing the sick out says the company has put them at needless risk by not requiring workers or guests to wear masks, keeping social distance and other measures.
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