Grocery workers are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic
New York — At least four employees at ShopRite stores in New York's Westchester County have tested positive for coronavirus. The company said those workers and colleagues with close contact have been asked to self quarantine.
Joe Colalillo is the CEO of Wakefern, a grocery store cooperative of 70,000 workers — among them were the ones who tested positive for coronavirus. "Our associates take very seriously the role to feed people, right? That's what we do," Colalillo told CBS News. "That's the business we're in."
As staffers work alongside the public each day, Colalillo said keeping employees and customers safe is their top priority. "We do regular cleaning all the time, all day long to protect the environment," he said.
It's a sobering business for the entire supermarket industry. Frequent cleaning, sneeze guards between cashiers, signs encouraging social distancing have all become the norm. Some stores are offering rubber gloves.
"I was not about to just grab that basket with my bare hands," shopper Donna Olsen said.
Employees are working overtime to keep shelves stocked, in some ways, jeopardizing their health to keep shelves stocked as quickly as they can. Gristedes CEO John Catsimatidis said there is no shortage of groceries.
When asked about how much food you should stock up on, Catsimatidis said, "You should have enough merchandise for a week or two weeks, but you shouldn't be buying for three months or four months."
Eddie Ortiz, an assistant manager at Gristedes, describes his staff as tireless frontline warriors. "They didn't hesitate for one minute to stay and meet the needs of the public," he said.
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