WILLITS, 8/6/20 — A Mendocino County spokesperson has confirmed that at least three employees of Walmart in Ukiah have at some point tested positive for COVID-19, two of them recently. Sarah Dukett, spokesperson for Mendocino County and Public Health explained that one employee tested positive several weeks ago, and another two in the past week.
Seven new cases of COVID were confirmed in Mendocino County today, and hospitalization spiked to a record of 13 people in the hospital with one in the ICU. There have been a total 363 cases confirmed in Mendo since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the death toll from COVID remains at 10.
The two employees who tested positive at Walmart this week are currently in isolation and not working — however, it is not clear if they worked at the store while ill, contagious, or in between being tested and receiving a result. The substantial lag time between testing and getting back results means that there can be a great deal of ambiguity around this, and Dukett explained that Public Health’s case investigation is ongoing.
A store manager at Walmart declined to comment on the situation, providing a phone number for the corporate media relations. A message at that number instructed reporters to fill out and online form. The response to that inquiry was a boilerplate response that can be seen below. As such no answer has been forthcoming from Walmart as to whether these workers were on the job while ill or otherwise contagious with the disease.
Statement from Walmart corporate:
Please know we take COVID-19 concerns very seriously. Our practice is to leave COVID-19 confirmations up to the local health officials out of respect and privacy for our associates’ personal health information. The health department is the local authority on if and when such information should be reported for the safety of the community, but rest assured we are also taking all measures necessary to safeguard the well-being of those inside our stores, fulfillment centers and distribution centers. We have been working to ensure our stores are cleaned and sanitized regularly. We are focused on serving our customers and keeping our associates safe during this unprecedented time and we’ve implemented several measures in consideration of guidance by the CDC and health experts intended to help bring peace of mind.
Specifically, we have/are:
Enacted deep-cleaning and sanitizing protocols with guidance from the CDC and Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer.
Conducting health screenings and temperature checks on our associates prior to them beginning their shifts. Should an associate have a fever (100 degrees or higher) or answer “yes” to our screening questionnaire, he/she will be asked to return home until symptoms subside or they go through necessary COVID-19 protocols.
Posted signs at store entrances reminding customers of the importance of wearing masks.
Installed plexiglass barriers (sneeze guards) at our checkout lanes and pharmacy areas. (photos attached)
Installed floor decals at the entrances and in checkout lanes that show exactly how far six feet is, making it easier for customers to judge the proper social distance from each other.
Limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at the same time.
Adjusted operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help associates restock shelves while continuing to clean and sanitize the store.
In the event we do have a confirmed case at any of our stores, we are working with those associates and offering guidance and time needed to receive medical care. Associates have been encouraged to prioritize their health and stay home if feeling sick. We also implemented a COVID-19 emergency leave policy (extended through July) for all associates who feel unable or uncomfortable coming to work.
You can find additional information on steps we’ve taken to help the community, our associates and even our venders during this time in the below links.
Here’s some of our past reporting on the case totals: