Trader Joe’s has had its first nationwide novel coronavirus death at a storefront in Westchester County, the Washington Post reports. The employee, who reportedly had underlying health conditions, died early Monday morning, the company confirms to Eater.
The Scarsdale, New York storefront has temporarily closed its doors until Thursday, April 9. Per Trader Joe’s policy, employees working in the store will continue to be paid during the closure and will receive two additional days of paid leave “to process and grieve,” according to a company spokesperson.
Two Walmart employees working at the same Chicago-area store have also died of coronavirus this week. The employees, ages 47 and 51, both had underlying medical conditions but reported into work anyway, according to the Chicago Tribune. The store remains open to customers but will undergo a cleaning.
Although this marks the first employee death at Trader Joe’s due to COVID-19, other staffers have reported showing symptoms after working in the company’s stores. This month, the national supermarket chain has temporarily closed its Union Square, Chelsea, Soho, and Upper West Side storefronts after workers tested positive or were diagnosed as likely carriers of coronavirus.
These closures highlight the growing risks that grocery store workers face while working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic. Last Monday, employees who fulfill orders for grocery delivery service Instacart protested what they saw as inadequate safety measures and insufficient pay. That same day, some Whole Foods employees held a sick-out demanding hazard pay during the public health crisis.
At Trader Joe’s, the situation appears to be similar, with the company’s unofficial union calling for hazard pay, customer strikes, and expanded paid sick leave for at-risk employees.
New data from New York City confirmed last week that service workers, including those who work in food, are the most vulnerable to contract the virus.
- Grocery Workers Are Beginning to Die of Coronavirus [Washington Post]