WASHINGTON — CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported 12 cases of coronavirus at the P Street Whole Foods. We have only been able to independently confirm six of those cases.
Whole Foods store employees in Logan Circle are sounding the alarm after they said at least six workers at the store contracted coronavirus.
The employees work at the Whole Foods on P Street near Logan Circle in Northwest D.C.
The workers said cases have been popping up at the location since mid-March, the store has not been shut down for a deep cleaning and shoppers are not being told about what is going on.
One employee, who works as an Amazon shopper at the Logan Circle Whole Foods, said it is important for the public to know what is happening at the location.
The person wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, but is calling for more to be done to keep employees and the public safe.
"Someone came down with the virus," they said.
The Amazon worker forwarded WUSA9 four emails/text messages from Amazon's Human Resources that went out to other employees at the store alerting them co-workers tested positive for COVID-19.
A Whole Foods employee corroborated the Amazon worker's reports of confirmed cases at the store and forwarded WUSA9 a text message that had been sent to notify employees of four cases on Monday, April 13.
The cases in those emails and messages were of employees who were last in the store on the following dates: March 27, April 1, April 3 (at least two cases), April 8, and April 9.
The Amazon employee claims the store was never shut down for a deep cleaning and more employees got sick.
"Then, Whole Foods comes back again and says that they’re going to deep cleanse the store," the Amazon employee said. "Deep cleaning the store? They're doing this while we’re working."
"I was like, 'This is out of control.' These people don’t care nothing about us. They just want us to work while people are getting sick."
WUSA9 reached out to Whole Foods about the employee’s concerns, and a spokesperson responded with the following statement:
“Whole Foods Market is providing an essential service in our communities and like all businesses operating in this climate, we continue to balance that responsibility with our responsibility as an employer to ensure the health, safety and privacy of our Team Members. We are meeting any notification of a diagnosis with swift and comprehensive action and communication. Because of the thorough nature of our daily enhanced cleaning procedures and our escalated safety protocols, our stores are remaining open to serve our communities under the guidance of health officials. The safety of our Team Members and customers is our top priority and we are diligently following all guidance from local health and food safety authorities. We’ve been working closely with our store Team Members, and are supporting the diagnosed Team Members, who are in quarantine."
A Whole Foods spokesperson followed up with an email on Wednesday after this story first aired stating, "The store performed additional deep cleanings on top of the daily enhanced cleanings after learning of confirmed positive cases. These cleanings were done after hours and overnight by third parties."
The spokesperson also confirmed the following stores have had employees test positive for coronavirus:
- P Street (Logan Circle)
- H Street
- Foggy Bottom
- South Capitol Hill
- Tenley Town
Grocery stores and other essential businesses are provided with health guidance from the District regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) to help ensure the health, safety and welfare their customers and employees.
According to the D.C. Health Department, "essential businesses are not required by law to notify the public when an employee tests positive for COVID-19."
Whole Foods said it has enhanced its cleaning protocols, implemented social distancing and crowd control guidelines, installed plexiglass partitions at registers, performs daily temperature check screenings, and employees are required to wear face masks.
The Whole Foods spokesperson added, “effective April 13, we are requiring all Whole Foods Market Team Members and Prime Now Shoppers across our stores and facilities to wear a mask throughout the entirety of their shifts. In addition, we are offering personal face shields to all Whole Foods Market Team Members and Prime Now shoppers as an optional, protective measure. These actions – combined with our previously implemented safety measures including social distancing, crowd control, and temperature screenings for in-store workers – will help protect our Team Members and Prime Now shoppers who continue to provide critical services in our communities.”
The company also created a website, which detail the safety and health precautions it is taking in the wake of COVID-19.
However, one of the anonymous employees told WUSA9 the company’s efforts do not go far enough as workers continue standing on the front lines.
"It's about safety for everyone that comes in that store," they said. "The public doesn’t know that they have employees that came down with the corona in that store. They don’t know these things."