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Despite Colorado Law, Many Essential Employees At Stores In Arapahoe County Still Not Wearing Masks

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Even though Gov. Jared Polis signed a law requiring essential employees to wear masks or face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus, especially when interacting with the public, CBS4 Investigates found several employees at two local Home Depots not wearing masks while helping customers. So, CBS4 Investigates went undercover to find out why.

On April 20, at least four employees were spotted not wearing masks at the Home Depot on Gun Club Road in Aurora.

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On April 23, three other employees were seen not wearing a mask. While wearing an undercover camera, CBS4 Investigator Kati Weis asked one of the employees why.

"I don't like it, and I have asthma, so it's kind of a liability," the employee said. "If I get it, I get it."

Asked about the state law, the employee said, "I mean, you're not going to make a law telling me what I can and can't wear."

Another employee said while Home Depot had provided masks to employees, he was waiting to wear his own.

"I'm going to be putting on one, I special-ordered one, I just got it yesterday," the employee said.

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Asked about the state law requiring essential employees to wear one, the employee said, "If you're in a restaurant, yeah."

On the morning of April 27, three more employees were not wearing masks while on the job at the Home Depot on Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village. One of those employees said he wasn't wearing one, because, "I just don't like it."

That employee also said, "I don't think it's a store policy that we have to."

The Centers for Disease Control says wearing a mask is important, because "the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity ... even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms."

Dan Hunter, of Arvada, said he saw the same problem when he went to a Home Depot in his community a couple weeks ago.

"What wearing a mask does for people that aren't aware that they're sick, it protects other people, not themselves, that's what I was concerned about is that, well, they don't seem to care about me I guess," Hunter said.

A spokesperson for Home Depot said the company will be following up with the Arapahoe County store locations mentioned in this report.

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"We're providing non-medical masks to all associates to wear while at work and will follow up with these two locations," a spokesperson for Home Depot wrote to CBS4. "We've been partnering with the state and local officials for some time to share our efforts to keep our associates and customers safe. We'll continue to ensure our stores are in compliance as we work to provide essential items to our customers and communities."

On the morning of April 26, at the Walmart in the Southlands shopping center, at least one employee was not wearing a mask while helping a customer. At another Walmart in Greenwood Village, on April 27, an employee was wearing a mask, but kept it below his chin while talking to customers.

A spokesperson for Walmart pointed to a recent memo the company released, and said the company has implemented the following policies:

  • Enacted deep-cleaning and sanitizing protocols with guidance from the CDC and Walmart's Chief Medical Officer.
  • Conducting health screenings and temperature checks on our associates prior to them beginning their shifts. Should an associate have a fever (100 degrees or higher) or answer "yes" to our screening questionnaire, he/she will be asked to return home until symptoms subside or they go through necessary COVID-19 protocols.
  • We are requiring associates to wear masks.
  • Limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at the same time.
    Installed (sneeze guards) at our checkout lanes and pharmacy areas.
  • Installed floor decals at the entrances and in checkout lanes that show exactly how far six feet is, making it easier for customers to judge the proper social distance from each other.
  • Adjusted operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help associates restock shelves while continuing to clean and sanitize the store.
  • Implemented a COVID-19 emergency leave policy for all associates who feel unable or uncomfortable coming to work.

Gov. Jared Polis's executive order requiring employees to wear masks while in contact with the public expires on May 17, however it could be extended.

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