Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

People wearing masks and gloves wait to checkout at Walmart on April 03, 2020 in Uniondale, New York.

People wearing masks and gloves wait to checkout at Walmart on April 03, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

As Covid-19 Deaths Mount in Retail, Walmart Workers Take Matters Into Own Hands With Contact-Tracing Plan

"We can't wait for more half-measures—we're taking matters into our own hands to get the information we deserve to know."

Eoin Higgins

A national labor non-profit on Wednesday launched a virtual tracker for coronavirus cases in Walmart stores around the country, citing the retail giant's inaction in the face of the pandemic in the midst of rising infections and deaths of  employees.

"The rise of deaths and infections of Walmart associates show clearly that the company is not only failing to keep its associates and customers safe, but also failing to communicate clearly about store conditions," Michigan Walmart worker Ruby Ann Woolwine said in a statement. "We can't wait for more half-measures—we're taking matters into our own hands to get the information we deserve to know."

The Covid-19 tracker "will allow associates nationwide to report infections and store safety conditions" in a publicly available database, United for Respect said in a press release. 

United for Respect listed the failures on the part of Walmart leadership to address the crisis:

  • Refusing to follow social distancing guidelines; offer protective equipment (and in some cases not allowing employees to bring their own), or provide hazard pay; 
  • Failing to disclose positive cases to customers, the community, and Walmart’s own employees in stores; and
  • Exacerbating this crisis by offering inadequate paid sick leave, as well as leaving hundreds of thousands without affordable healthcare. 

"Enough is enough," said Jessie Metcalfe, who works at a Walmart location in Colorado. "Walmart executives are so removed from the reality of what's happening in their stores that they don't understand: our customers can't be served if associates are out sick. What makes it more frustrating, and even scarier, is Walmart is keeping us in the dark about potential and confirmed COVID-19 cases."

With the new initiative, Metcalfe added, associates in any store "can use the tracker to keep each other and the public informed about the actual conditions in stores. We know—better than anyone—what's needed to safeguard the health of our families, our customers, and our communities, and that's why we'll keep raising our voices to demand PPE, hazard pay, and healthcare."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo