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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."


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'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

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