In this file:


·         Grocery Stores Are the Coronavirus Tipping Point

·         Governor Polis sends letter to grocery companies suggesting new safety protocols

·         Kroger is allowing employees to wear masks and gloves, puts up Plexiglass at registers

·         Preventing coronavirus spread: Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons among grocers adding sneeze guards




Grocery Stores Are the Coronavirus Tipping Point

Even one of the last bastions of normal American life could not escape the outbreak.


Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

March 24, 2020


For a couple of weeks now, grocery stores have been one of the only respites from cabin fever. Despite all the lockdowns and social-distancing measures across America, people still need food. In the most restrictive states, the grocery store has become about the last place you can go where life is lived more or less as it previously was.


Except now, not even grocery stores can keep up the facade of normalcy. As many health experts have feared, last week, reports began to trickle in of grocery-store workers coming down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. A Trader Joe’s employee in Seattle tested positive. So did a King Soopers employee in Denver, along with two Fred Meyer employees: one in Monroe, Washington, and one in Portland, Oregon. A worker at the Columbus Circle and Bryant Park Whole Foods locations in New York, through which thousands of people filter every day, tested positive as well.


So far, the virus does not appear to be extremely widespread among grocery workers. Nationally, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents the employees of some grocery stores, told me only six of its members are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. But many more might have the virus and have not been tested. Until this past week, it was possible to at least wishfully imagine that grocery stores were somehow immune to the virus. Now the risk has become even more apparent: Yes, people can get COVID-19 at the grocery store.


The primary concern for shoppers is other people, not food. Though shoppers might worry about infecting themselves by handling the same apple or Cheerios box as someone else, health experts say transmission through food or its wrapping is largely avoidable. Research suggests that the virus can exist on cardboard food packaging for a day, and on plastic for several days, but it becomes less infectious over these periods. “My recommendation is just to wash your hands after you handle external packaging,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, says. “High-touch” objects such as shopping-cart handles are a bigger concern, but many stores have provided sanitizing wipes for those.


Coughing humans, meanwhile, can be harder to escape. This is a manageable risk for shoppers who can go to the store at odd hours and use the self-checkout. But at a high risk of infection are the cashiers themselves, who stand just a few feet from hundreds of customers a day. They might pick up the virus through food and money the customer touches. And “if the customer coughs or sneezes near an employee while in line, the likelihood of transmitting the virus through respiratory droplets is also high,” says Brandon Brown, a professor at UC Riverside who has studied infectious diseases.


In this way, the pandemic has put grocery-store stockers and cashiers in an impossible situation. The country can’t simply shut down grocery stores. Along with pharmacies, they’re an important lifeline for homebound Americans. But even essential shopping can endanger low-paid workers who are not trained in pandemic preparedness and have little choice but to show up for work.


To try to mitigate this threat, workers at various grocery stores have asked for face masks, says Hilary Thesmar of the Food Industry Association, or FMI, a trade group of grocery stores. FMI requested masks for workers from the federal government, she says, but it hasn’t been able to procure them, because there’s a national shortage and the priority is health-care workers. Marc Perrone, the president of the UFCW, says the union is pushing for the government to consider grocery-store workers on par with first responders, which might give them access to masks and gloves.


Even then, wearing masks and gloves might violate a store’s rules. A Trader Joe’s employee in New York, who requested anonymity, said workers at their store have been told they are not allowed to wear gloves at the registers. “They don’t want to alter the appearance of normalcy,” the worker told me through a Twitter account associated with a Trader Joe’s workers’ collective...





Governor Polis sends letter to grocery companies suggesting new safety protocols


By Jason Burger, KJCT 8 (CO)

Mar 24, 2020


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Governor Jared Polis sent a letter to the Presidents of Albertsons Companies, and The Kroger Co. encouraging new safety protocols for customers and employees.


The letter includes ideas on protections for workers and customers while minimizing economic disruption.


The Governor's proposals include:


·Providing appropriate gloves, masks, face screens, and other personal protective equipment to grocery store workers to the extent possible


·Consider expanding into grocery delivery services, prioritizing service to those at the highest risk


·Provide daily designated time periods for higher-risk individuals to shop


·Establish entrance/access controls to ensure crowds are in compliance with safe social distancing practices


·To the extent possible, assign those employees with higher health-risks to tasks with lowest exposure risks such as backroom work





Kroger is allowing employees to wear masks and gloves, puts up Plexiglass at registers


by Zachary Rogers, WKRC (OH)

March 24th 2020


CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Kroger is taking new precautions to protect its workforce from the coronavirus epidemic.


The company will be allowing its employees to wear protective gloves and masks, along with installing Plexiglass partitions at many of its stores' cash registers, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.


“There is a national shortage of personal protective equipment like this, and we fully support America’s health care workers having first priority to obtain the equipment they need,” a Kroger spokesperson said tp the Courier. “We are advocating to government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place in line for all grocery workers - after health care workers - to have access to protective masks and gloves."


The Plexiglass promotes "physical distancing" that health care officials are deeming vital to limiting the spread of coronavirus, said the spokesperson to the Courier...





Preventing coronavirus spread: Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons among grocers adding sneeze guards


By Kelly Tyko / USA TODAY

via Ames Tribune (IA) - Mar 25, 2020


Retailers have reduced store hours to make time for deep cleanings and now are adding a new layer of protection – sneeze guards.


Walmart and some of the nation’s largest grocery store chains – Kroger and Albertsons – are installing plexiglass barriers or partitions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect both shoppers and store employees.


The protective screens will stand between a customer and a cashier so that any airborne droplets - either from a cough or a sneeze - will be blocked from hitting the person on the other side...