Along with health-care workers and first responders, grocery store workers are essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, usually with low wages and without protective gear.
Supermarket chains have reported that at least thirty grocery store workers have died from COVID-19 and at least 30,000 more are sick with the virus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
This has led some experts to believe that it has become too dangerous to let customers inside the stores and to limit shopping to curbside pick up and home delivery for food.
“This is about not just saving the lives of these workers, but also about protecting the customers they serve,”said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. ‘It is about protecting and maintaining the safety of our food supply. Keeping these workers safe will help keep America safe. The CDC must act now to issue strong new safety guidance. American lives are on the line. These workers’ lives are on the line. We cannot wait any longer.”
In response to increasingly precarious working conditions, employees at Amazon-owned Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Food Lion have staged walkouts, protests, and “sick outs,” in which they call in sick in mass numbers to demand safer working conditions.
John Logan, professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, says, “Anything that reduces the need for interaction with the public and allows for greater physical distancing will ultimately better protect grocery workers. Shuttering stores and repurposing them for pickup and delivery only would be a positive step.
Will grocery chains convert to curbside pickup and delivery service? …only time will tell…
There have been more than 778,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, which has been blamed for more than 41,000 deaths.
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