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Coronavirus Update: Tracy Safeway Warehouse Workers Scared After Fatal COVID-19 Outbreak

TRACY (CBS 13) -- Frightened workers at a Safeway distribution center in Tracy were speaking out Friday after one of their colleagues died from complications related to coronavirus.

So far, 51 employees at the Tracy warehouse have been infected. Approximately 1,700 people work there.

Concerned about retaliation from the company, multiple employees at the Safeway warehouse agreed to speak with CBS 13 on the condition their identity remain secret.

Many of them said they are still not protected. One woman told CBS 13 she just wants to know the truth.

Workers are afraid of being exposed to and contracting the virus. One warehouse employee said both she and her son work in the Tracy facility. She called the death of her co-worker tragic and something that could have been prevented.

"It makes it that much more real when it's somebody that you work with. They don't tell you what department it's in, but you hear the rumors of where it's coming from," she said.

Despite 51 people who work at the facility being diagnosed with COVID-19, workers there insisted not much has changed.

The worker claimed hand sanitizer bottles inside are empty and no gloves were provided. Staff members were just issued personal protective equipment following the recent coronavirus-related death.

"I don't feel like we have enough things in place to protect us," said another worker. 

"I don't feel there is enough sanitizer. I don't feel like there's enough hand gloves," said a third. "I haven't even seen, haven't been offered any gloves for my hands."

Safeway says enhanced health screenings are now in place in Tracy, including thermal readings and a verbal screening before every associate enters the facility.

But the employee CBS 13 spoke with called that screening process a joke.

"You have two employees -- they're temporary employees -- that they brought on to do the screening, the worker said. I don't believe the readings are accurate," she said. "I was standing outside in the cold last night and happened to come back in to check in and the screen said abnormal low temperature. 'Well, go ahead and go on in!'"

CBS 13 also learned there are employees who commute together to the Tracy facility, with some driving together from Sacramento every day.

One worker said they think that may have been how the virus spread so quickly.

Safeway responded to requests for comment saying it continues to reinforce social distancing at its distribution center.

Common areas are now closed and employees are being required to take breaks and lunches separately. The company says it's also requiring employees to wear masks.

A press release from Safeway additionally stated that the facility had placed social distancing signs and floor markers near the time clocks, paused entry turnstiles into the distribution center, removed some furniture in break rooms, and enhanced the cleaning and disinfection schedule throughout the distribution center.

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