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New Worry: Grocery Workers Now Dying

Newser — Evann Gastaldo

Grocery store employees are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic—and now they're dying. The Washington Post reports that at least four have died from COVID-19 in recent days, and many more have tested positive.

The deaths include:

  • A Trader Joe's employee in Scarsdale, NY, with underlying health conditions who died early Monday. The store is closed until Thursday.

Other Trader Joe's locations in Brooklyn and Philadelphia closed Monday for cleaning and sanitizing.

  • A 27-year-old greeter at a Giant in Largo, Md., who died last week.

"She said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work because no one else is going to help the senior citizens get their groceries,'" her mother recalls. Her last day at work was March 16.

  • Two employees, ages 48 and 51, from the same Chicago-area Walmart.

Both died late last month.

The family of one of the Walmart employees, Wando Evans, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the store, CNBC reports.

Family members say Evans told store managers he had coronavirus symptoms, but they disregarded those symptoms. He was sent home from work March 23 and found dead in his home two days later.

The second employee, Phillip Thomas, died four days after that. The mayor of Evergreen Park, where the store is located, has ordered an investigation into the deaths and suspended the store's liquor license, WGN reports.

The Post notes that while many grocery workers expressed dissatisfaction with safety measures their employers were taking early on in the crisis, many stores have since stepped up protective measures.

But with the deaths, pressure is likely to increase that even more be done, and experts say grocery stores will likely struggle to retain workers and hire new ones.

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