81 employees at one Massachusetts Walmart test positive for coronavirus

Eighty-one employees at a single Massachusetts Walmart have tested positive for the coronavirus — forcing the store to temporarily shutter, according to city officials and news reports.

The infected employees account for just under 20 percent of the 414 workers there, Worcester officials announced, according to NewsCenter5.

Worcester ordered the business, on Tobias Boland Way, to close Wednesday, issuing a cease-and-desist order after an initial round of testing found that 23 employees were positive for the disease, according to Southcoasttoday.com. Another round found 58 more.

City manager Edward Augustus told the outlet a cluster of COVID-19 cases were reported among store employees over the past three weeks — the bulk of them occurring within the past week.

A Walmart spokesperson told the outlet most of the associates who tested positive had not been to work for several days.

During a Tuesday inspection, city officials found that not all employees were wearing face coverings while on duty, according to the report. The company told NewsCenter5 a mandatory mask policy has been in place for all employees, at least for the past week-and-a-half.

A spokesman for the superstore told the Boston Herald Monday that those infected include both Walmart employees and workers from third-party businesses operating within the store.

Employees will continue to earn wages through the company’s COVID-19 paid leave policy “so they can take the time they need to get well,” the company said in a statement issued to the paper.

“We will continue working with local officials, taking the steps needed in addition to the extensive measures we have in place, to help ensure the safety and well-being of our associates and customers before we reopen the store,” the statement said.

Officials said the store will remain closed until the city inspects it — determining that it underwent a deep cleaning by a professional third-party company. The Walmart must also display proper signage and have proper sanitation supplies in the store before re-opening, according to NewsCenter5.


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