They are the front lines of the grocery industry, getting food and supplies to shoppers every day, and as a result, in-store staff are an increasingly at-risk population with regard to coronavirus exposure. In recent days, three Trader Joe’s crew members have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are receiving treatment for a suspected case. Publix has received confirmation that an associate in its Cumming, Ga., store has also tested positive for COVID-19.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have temporarily closed the store for thorough cleaning and sanitization,” said Trader Joe’s website with regard to its store in Elkridge, Md., at 6610 Marie Curie Dr. The crew member was last present in the store on March 23. The Monrovia, Calif.-based retailer says it is working closely with Howard County Health Department to provide the community with the most appropriate information needed to make an informed decision regarding health and safety.
The Trader Joe’s on 142 E. 14th St. and its wine store on 138 E. 14th St. in New York City says a crew member who may have the coronavirus was last present in the store on March 22. A third store at 425 S. Oyster Bay Road in Plainview, N.Y., has also reported an employee who may be ill with the virus. The crew member was last present in the store on March 21.
“We are working closely with local health officials to take all necessary measures. We are connecting with all crew members at the respective locations, encouraging anyone who may have been in contact to follow CDC-recommended self-monitoring guidelines and to call their healthcare providers right away if they develop any symptoms,” said Trader Joe’s in a statement.
While the store is closed, Trader Joe’s will be paying all crew members for their scheduled shifts. As soon as the store has been fully cleaned and restocked, it plans to reopen.
“As we continue to respond to this rapidly evolving situation, our focus remains on doing whatever is necessary to safeguard the health and safety of our crew members and customers and best support our communities,” said Trader Joe’s.
Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix recently received confirmation from the Georgia Department of Public Health that an associate who works at store 0026, Cruse Marketplace, 1735 Buford Highway in Cumming, has also tested positive for COVID-19.
Publix has completed a “disinfection-level deep cleaning” of the store in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“At Publix, the health and well-being of our associates, our customers and our communities remains our top priority,” said Maria Brous, Publix director of communications, in a statement. “Following our disinfection protocol and with the support of the public health department, the store is operating normal business hours. We are thinking of our associate and their family during this time and wishing them a swift recovery.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health has informed Publix that store customers are considered to be at low risk of exposure and the products sold at the store do not represent a risk to customers.
As part of Publix’s general response to COVID-19, the company had already implemented a heightened disinfection program focusing on high-touch surfaces such as touch pads, door and drawer handles, phones and computers.