A Walmart in Worcester, Mass. closed Wednesday after city officials were notified via social media that 23 employees tested positive for COVID-19. The store was ordered closed until all 400 employees were tested and a deep cleaning was done. “Our inspectional services department will inspect the facility to make sure that the cleaning was done in compliance with our guidelines,” Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus told WCVB.

As of Saturday, 391 employees were tested, and a total of 81 employees at the store tested positive for the virus, city officials confirmed. The earliest positive case was reported on April 8. While the store has had a cluster of cases in the last month, a bulk of the cases occurred in the last seven days, the Worcester Division of Public Health said. During an inspection on Tuesday, officials found that not all employees were wearing face coverings while working, customers were also seen shopping without personal protective gear.

Following city orders to cease and desist, the store posted a statement on Facebook Thursday notifying shoppers of its closure. “Now more than ever before, customers are relying on Walmart for the essentials they need for their families, and our associates are doing heroic work serving their communities,” the post said. Our community is currently suffering from a high rate of coronavirus cases. Out of an abundance of caution, we will temporarily close our store on Thursday, April 30th to allow extra time for third-party specialists to further sanitize the store.”

Our Store is Temporarily ClosedNow more than ever before, customers are relying on Walmart for the essentials they…

Posted by Walmart Worcester on Thursday, April 30, 2020

 

While the store had initially announced its plans to reopen on Friday, it is unclear when it will reopen. According to the Boston Herald, Worcester has reported over 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in the city, as of Saturday. Statewide more than 66,000 Massachusetts residents have tested positive for coronavirus.

Essential workers, including grocery store employees, are at higher risk of catching the novel coronavirus. Despite known cases amongst workers in many companies and stores, some employees are being forced to still come in. As more employees are getting infected and dying from the coronavirus pandemic, strikes and walkouts are being staged in demand for better protection while on duty. Essential workers need to be provided the proper protective gear and sanitization options to remain safe at work, companies cannot profit off the sacrifices these workers make and must take responsibility.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

1 COMMENT

  1. I refuse to go to any Walmart during this pandemic, even in normal times it spreads all kinds of disease.

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