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Fourth Walmart worker tests positive for coronavirus at same store

Updated April 14, 2020 - 6:35 pm

Update: A fourth employee at the Walmart Supercenter in North Las Vegas has tested positive for the coronavirus, a store source said.

Management has informed workers about the new case, but has not disclosed the last day the infected employee worked, or the employee’s department, the source said.

Charles Crowson, a Walmart corporate spokesman, declined to confirm the fourth case. “We’re prioritizing our associates’ privacy at this time and are not confirming positive cases within our stores,” he said.

Crowson previously refused to confirm the other three COVID-19 cases at the store, also citing privacy.

The previous story from April 9:

Three Walmart employees at a store in North Las Vegas have tested positive for the coronavirus, a store source has told the Review-Journal.

This comes amid word of more positive tests among workers at other grocery stores in the Las Vegas Valley, including those at Smith’s Food and Drug, and Vons and Costco in the last week.

A Walmart corporate spokesman refused to confirm the positive cases, citing privacy.

Workers at the Walmart Supercenter, 3950 W. Lake Mead Blvd., were notified by management within the past week about the three cases in small groups of 5-10 people, said the source, who works at the store. The source asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing the job.

According to the source, Walmart management told workers in each case that the Southern Nevada Health District was informed and people who worked closely with the infected employees were sent home for quarantine.

“The mood here has taken a turn for the worse,” the store source said. “The employees are very concerned.”

[ New Nevada guidelines could help protect workers ]

The identity of the employees were not revealed, and a Walmart corporate spokesman cited medical privacy laws and refused to confirm whether the employees tested positive.

“Any update on COVID-19 cases involving associates can only come from local health officials,” said Charles Crowson, senior manager of corporate communications. “Per requirements of HIPAA, we do not share the personal health information about any associate in order to protect their privacy.”

Health District spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore could not confirm the three cases and said the agency does not identify the “place of employment” of someone who tests positive for the virus “unless it is necessary as part of a contact investigation.”

The local Walmart source expressed concern about the way the company informed some 300 workers at the North Las Vegas store, choosing to inform them in small groups.

“This has been handled less than well,” the employee said. “It took more than 24 hours to notify all employees. In that time, people could have been exposed to the virus.”

Two Walmart employees from a Chicago-area store have died after contracting the virus, according to multiple reports.

There are no local health regulations in place for coronavirus-related inspections at Las Vegas grocery retailers — a growing concern as workers and customers are exposed and COVID-19 numbers climb. Employees remain concerned.

In the past week, Walmart has announced new safety measures to improve social distancing at its stores and is now limiting the number of customers who can be in the stores at the same time.

The company also plans to institute “one-way movement” through aisles in a number of stores.

Earlier this week, a Smith’s Food & Drug corporate spokeswoman confirmed that a worker at a store in northwest Las Vegas has tested positive for the virus.

In the wake of the positive test, the company announced Monday it is taking the additional safety measure of limiting the number of customers in its stores .

“We’ve been informed by public health officials that an associate at our 7130 N. Durango Drive location has tested positive for COVID-19,” said Aubriana Martindale, corporate affairs manager for Smith’s, which is owned by Kroger. “The associate is receiving medical care. We are supporting them and wish them all the best in their recovery.

“Upon learning of the case, we worked closely with state and local health experts, followed all sanitation and cleaning procedures, communicated with and supported our store team, and with the support of the state officials, the store remains open.”

Martindale added: “We will continue to follow guidance from local, state and federal agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations.”

On Tuesday, a Vons spokeswoman confirmed that a worker at the Vons store on East Windmill Parkway in Henderson has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“That associate is now receiving medical care, “said Nancy Keane, a public affairs specialist for Albertsons, which owns Vons. “The associate has not worked at our Henderson store since April 5th. That store has been through multiple cycles of our enhanced cleaning, sanitizing and/or disinfecting process since that day.”

Keane said the store will continue enhanced cleaning in every department.

“Following CDC guidelines, our Crisis Response Team may recommend that additional members of the store team self-quarantine,” Keane said.

Last week, two Costco employees at separate stores in Henderson tested positive for the virus, according to company letters that circulated on social media.

A Costco spokeswoman refused to confirm the positive cases at the two stores — at 3411 St. Rose Parkway and 791 Marks St. But a company source confirmed that the letters were accurate.

The health district reported a total of 1,878 COVID-19 cases in Clark County as of early Wednesday.

Correction: In the earlier update, Charles Crowson’s last name was misspelled.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.

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