Just days after a Walmart distribution center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is closed temporarily after nine employees test positive for COVID-19, workers at another PA warehouse are voicing their concern after recent positive tests at their facility.
Workers at a Pottsville, PA distribution center, located roughly fifty-five miles from the Bethlehem facility, which has been closed until April 6th after as many as nine workers tested positive for the virus, say they are worried about the DC continuing to operate even after being told of several positive cases in their facility.
According to reporting by the Republican Herald, several employees at the distribution center said that management held several meetings, including one late Thursday, announcing cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus at the center. Several employees told the Herald that management informed employees Thursday of eight cases. Employees were first informed of a positive case March 27 according to the article.
This is on the heels of the temporary closure of the Bethlehem facility, which closed down on Wednesday, April 1st for decontamination after a ninth employee tested positive for the virus. Employees said the the ninth employee was at work the day before the decision to close. While Walmart would not answer directly to the number of cases reported at its facilities, directing media to contact each county’s Health Department for information, they did confirm the temporary closure of the Bethlehem facility in a statement.
“Our associates’ well-being is critically important to us,” said Walmart Global Communications spokesman Kory Lundberg. “Due to unique circumstances, our Bethlehem eCommerce Fulfillment Center will temporarily suspend operations until Monday, April 6 so we can make adjustments to our operations, including schedule changes and bringing specialists in to thoroughly clean and sanitize the building.”
Grocery workers have been increasingly outspoken about work conditions related to COVID-19. Instacart and Amazon workers participated in a strike on Monday in hopes to appeal to their leadership for increased Personal Protective Equipment and hazard pay. Whole Foods employees called for a sick out earlier this week demanding safer worker conditions, time off policies and double time as hazardous pay.