Inspectors Find Walmart Staff Not Wearing Protective Gear at Store Where 23 Employees Tested Positive for COVID-19

A Walmart store has been ordered to close its doors after nearly two dozen of its staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Walmart in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been issued a cease and desist order by the city after a total of 23 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

An inspection by City of Worcester Division of Public Health officials on April 28 found that no members of staff or customers were wearing protective equipment such as masks or gloves.

On April 17, Walmart announced it requires all its staff members to wear masks or other face coverings at work following a spike of cases in areas such as New Orleans.

The store will remain closed until it is professionally cleaned and sanitized and another inspection by the city's health department can take place. All employees will then be tested for COVID-19 to determine if they can return to work.

"All COVID-19 testing will be conducted at the direction of the City Medical Director, who will confirm the testing results and determine whether an employee is eligible to return to work," the City of Worcester said in a statement.

"All patrons and employees shall be required to wear face masks while in the store and employees returning to work shall also wear protective gloves."

The closure was also announced on the Worcester Walmart's Facebook page, adding they hope that the store will reopen by Friday morning.

"Attention customers for the safety of our customers and associates we will be closing our Worcester Walmart store on Thursday April 30 for a day of deep cleaning and sanitizing," a post read.

"Thank you for understanding and cooperation during this difficult time."

Walmart has been contacted for comment.

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(File photo) Shoppers wait in line to pay for their purchases at a Walmart store in Los Angeles, California on November 24, 2009. A Walmart in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been shut down after 23 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty

Officials said there are now 1,986 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Worcester.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 58,300 cases of COVID-19 in the state of Massachusetts, with 3,200 deaths. In total, more than 124,023 people have managed to recover from the virus.

This chart, provided by Statista, shows the U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

coronavirus U.S. states
Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.