How transparent should grocers be about employees infected with COVID-19?
Trader Joe’s, H-E-B and ShopRite are standing out for providing transparency about the number of their employees testing positive for coronavirus. The majority of retail is largely keeping such incidents under wraps.
Trader Joe’s prominently displays a “Today’s Temporary Closures” update on its website that shows how many stores have been temporarily closed for cleaning because at least one associate has tested positive. The update includes the latest date when an infected “crew member” was in the store. As of Saturday, six stores were closed due to an infection. The chain wrote in the update, “We believe in being proactive and transparent in addressing issues, and we value information and clear communication.”
Trader Joe’s also appears to be one of the few that is temporarily closing locations to conduct a deep cleaning after an incident.
H-E-B similarly details on its site when an associate has tested positive and was last in a particular store. The Texas chain notes that the store has been thoroughly cleaned. ShopRite details on Facebook pages how many associates have tested positive and how many are showing symptoms.
Walmart is among a number of larger chains that has declined to confirm employee infections, citing medical privacy laws. A spokesperson at Wegmans told the Star Ledger, “The personal health information of all Wegmans employees is private, and as such we are not privy to, or at liberty to share, individual details.”
A leaked employee memo regarding a worker testing positive at a Costco in Missouri said, “We share this information in the spirit of transparency; however, we also understand this can cause heightened anxiety.”
Some grocers are confirming cases of employees testing positive to the media. The stores assert they’re informing local health authorities but aren’t providing such information regularly to the public since it’s not required by law.
Those confirming cases will stress the store has been extensively cleaned following discovery and store employees have been informed. In some cases, employees in close contact with the infected worker are being urged to self-quarantine.
- Trader Joe’s Stores That Are Temporarily Closed Related To COVID-19 – Trader Joe’s
- ShopRite is being transparent about coronavirus. Why aren’t other N.J. grocery stores? – Star Ledger
- Positive coronavirus test for O.C. grocery worker prompts no local action – Orange County Register
- Henrico Kroger employee tests positive for coronavirus – WRIC
- 3 Walmart workers at 1 store test positive for coronavirus – Las Vegas Review Journal
- W. White H-E-B – H-E-B
- Wegmans employee tests positive, customers told to get tested – Ithaca Times
- Local Costco reports employee virus cases – The Examiner
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How transparent should grocers be about store employees testing positive for COVID-19? Does the increased confidence in safety measures being taken due to transparency offset the anxiety such disclosures may cause for customers and employees?