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05/28/2020 | Raising the Bar for Workers and Families

Walmart's Failure to Prioritize Employee and Public Health: A timeline of dangerous delays and critical missteps in Walmart’s COVID-19 response and what can be done today to save lives at Walmart

Walmart’s health and safety response to the coronavirus pandemic has been dangerously delayed and wholly inadequate.

    As this brief reveals, at every critical stage, Walmart failed to fully implement vital public health guidance, and the actions they did take were delayed and insufficient. The corporation waited two, and in some cases seven weeks, before fully adopting major Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for employers. For instance, despite the CDC recommending social distancing strategies and protective partitions for grocery and retail workers in February and March, Walmart didn’t start limiting customers in stores or installing sneeze guards until early to mid-April. By this time, thousands of Walmart associates around the country were testing positive for COVID-19 and over a dozen had died. 

    There is an unfolding public health crisis in Walmart stores around the country. As of May 11th, at least 22 people who work at Walmart have died and 2,000 have tested positive for COVID-19. Walmart has not disclosed how many associates have contracted and died from COVID-19, so these April figures are likely to have exponentially increased over the last month. Around 150,000 associates have taken leaves of absence and are too sick or too scared to come to work. Countless more are ill but lack the employer provided healthcare or access to testing necessary to confirm their cases. Several county health departments have either stepped in to temporarily shut down Walmart stores, or announced exposure risks and community transmission from Walmart locations. Download the report to learn more.