A Walmart in Colorado was closed on Thursday after a COVID-19 outbreak killed three people related to the store over complaints of a lack of social distance in the store.
Officials from the Tri-County health department in Colorado announced that the Walmart Supercenter would close at the 14000 East Exposition in Aurora after an employee, spouse, and independent contractor died of the corona virus.
Among the victims, who have not been publicly identified, are a 72-year-old Walmart employee, her 63-year-old husband and a 69-year-old external security contractor.
Six other Walmart employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and three additional employees are waiting for their laboratory results.
“We are very saddened by this news and express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the three people we have lost,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department in a pronunciation.
A Colorado-based Walmart was closed on Thursday after an employee, her husband, and a security contractor died of COVID-19
“These deaths underscore the seriousness of the highly contagious coronavirus and the need for careful safeguards to prevent further spread, including the wearing of masks.”
The department revealed that the Walmart Supercenter was closed after employees and customers complained about “the lack of social distance, too many people in the store at one time, and employees not wearing masks or face covers.”
An anonymous employee said The Denver Post that the store was swarming with shoppers and did not follow health guidelines on Thursday.
‘It was horrible. We couldn’t possibly be six feet apart. There were people from wall to wall. They were only bombed once, “said the employee.
“It is intended that there is only a limited number of people, but it was not. There were too many, they were everywhere. ‘
Employees and customers complained that there was a “lack of social distance” in the Colorado store
The employee said that while Walmart employees need a face mask, some younger employees in the Colorado store have declined the measure.
“Some young children walked around without them. Sometimes customers came in and said, “Shouldn’t you put your mask on?” Or they would have it on, but they would have it under their mouth, “they said.
Employees at retailers such as Amazon made similar complaints and protested in warehouses across the country.
Gerard Tuzara, an Air Force veteran and operations manager, was the first Amazon employee to die on March 31 from COVID-19.
Pictured: Cashier Baby San is wearing a face shield and gloves while she scans items at Super Cao Nguyen supermarket, in Oklahoma City, due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus.
Some stores have added plexiglass snaps to checkouts to protect workers during the pandemic
At least 30 Amazon workers in a New Jersey warehouse have contracted COVID-19, making it the largest known outbreak for the retail giant.
Commenting on the deaths, a Walmart spokesperson said, “Colorado has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, and several employees at this store have tested positive.
Gerard Tuzara was previously an officer in the United States Air Force before joining Amazon
“Unfortunately, one of our employees died. The temporary closure allows external cleaning experts to further clean and disinfect the store. ‘
“We will continue to work closely with Tri-County Health Department and take additional steps to reopen the store if necessary.”
Colorado has registered 11,278 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 552 deaths.
On Thursday, Sens. Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal and Kristen Gillibrand wrote to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon asking the company to prioritize employee health over income.
“We are writing today urgently urging you to do more to prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees, who are also our constituents, friends, relatives and neighbors,” they wrote.
The letter pointed to Walmart employees who complained that the protective equipment supplied by the company was ‘scarce’ and of poor quality, and that the gloves and masks are only available in one size, which is often too small for many of the workers who have to use them. “
Pictured: Protesters gather in front of the Colorado State Capitol Building to protest corona virus home orders at a “ReOpen Colorado” meeting last week in Denver, Colorado
Pictured: A shopper wears a face mask as he jumps out of his car and uses his cell phone to take a video of the empty parking lot in front of a Walmart, culminated in the deaths of three people connected to the store after they are infected by the new coronavirus
The letter also said Walmart locations have not implemented protections that they announced in a March 31 memo, such as regular temperature checks and installing plexiglass screens at checkout stations.
“Given the magnitude of your operation, any failure of Walmart to keep its personnel safe not only endangers your workers, but endangers the entire country,” the letter said.
Walmart did not disclose how many workers tested positive for or died of COVID-19, but two workers from Evergreen Park, Illinois died of the disease earlier this year.
Wando Evans, a 51-year-old nighttime maintenance worker, died on March 25 after working for 15 years at Walmart.
Phillip Thomas, 48, died four days later on March 29 after nine years in the store. He turned 49 on April 12.
(Left to right) Wando Evans and Phillip Thomas, two employees of an Evergreen Park Walmart, died of the corona virus just four days apart
Both men suffered from underlying health problems, Patch reported.
Walmart said neither employee had been in the Evergreen Park store for “more than a week.”
It is unclear when the two men contracted COVID-19 or if it happened during work.
Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton therefore suspended Walmart’s liquor license, but restored it on Wednesday.
An investigation into the death of Evans and Thomas was opened after Sexton learned of the death of Chicago Ald. Matt O’Shea, who saw Facebook posts about human death.
In response, Walmart overhauled cleaning efforts over the past week with an “ external safety and environmental conformity assessment and health department inspection. ”
This included decontamination of the front entrance, carts, registers, bathrooms and food areas.
“This is in addition to the cleaning measures we have implemented in all stores, including installing anti-theft protection at checkouts, placing social distance stickers on the floors and limiting the number of customers in a store at any one time,” the statement said.
“Looks like they’re trying to fix a bad situation,” said Sexton. “The store is now safe for workers and customers. Everything is going to change now. ‘
Additionally, Walmart has addressed the coronavirus crisis by placing social distance markers around stores and installing plexiglass barriers in checkouts.
Walmart also said she limited the number of customers allowed in stores at one time and started checking employee temperatures at the start of each shift.
The Washington Post reports that thousands of supermarket employees across the country continue to work as 927, 360 Americans were infected with COVID-19 and 52,422 died.
Those numbers include supermarket workers who have complained about not having protective equipment – such as face masks and gloves – on shifts. Tens have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Experts said the influx of employee infections and deaths could likely impact grocers’ ability to both recruit and hire new staff.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, announced it will employ 150,000 employees, while Kroger will expand its workforce by 10,000.
Several grocers encourage potential workers with promises of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and an extra $ 2 an hour.
But finding people willing to step into the frontline of the pandemic for minimum wages may not be enough to close the deal, supermarket analyst Phil Lempert said.
He said, “One of the biggest mistakes supermarkets made in the beginning was that employees were not allowed to wear masks and gloves the way they wanted to. They are now starting to become proactive, but hiring hundreds of thousands of new employees will become even more difficult.
“We will see people say,” I just remain unemployed instead of risking my life for a temporary job. ”
Analysts believe that clashes between personnel and companies can become more serious as employees remain ill.
While grocers are trying to navigate sales amid the COVID-19 crisis, some stores like Whole Foods and Kroger have started testing online shopping alone.
Today reports that selected Whole Foods stores in New York City, San Francisco and Baltimore are only taking orders online.
A Kroger site in Cincinnati, Ohio tests curbside pickup.