It is possible for a person to become infected with covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus that went around the world
Sandra Kunz wanted to continue working as a cashier for the company Walmart, even when the coronavirus spread. Despite suffering from lung disease, the 72-year-old woman in Aurora, Colorado, needed to receive her salary, according to her sister Paula Spellman. Her husband, Gus, had an injury and was out of work, so the couple had outstanding bills to pay.
Kunz died April 20 of complications from the coronavirus, his sister said. Gus, who was also infected, passed away two days before his wife.
Although it is unclear how the marriage contracted the virus, Spellman told CNN television that his sister had expressed concern about Walmart customers that they coughed at the cash register.
“I wish she didn’t work there. I wish she had taken a leave, “Spellman said.” It makes me angry that she should have been more protected, “he insisted.
Walmart assured that it has instituted multiple security measures in its stores, including provision of masks and the installation of sneeze guards, or perspex barriers, to protect your workers from the coronavirus.
The cash register has become the most dangerous place in supermarkets, according to public health and safety experts for workers. Every product that ATMs touch, scan and pack has already been handled by customers and other employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that it is possible for a person to become infected with covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus.
The job also involves being close to customers just an arm away all day.Instead of the 2 meters recommended by the CDC, which makes social distancing almost impossible, these experts added.
The risks to buyers they also increase as they move toward the cash register. If an ATM is infected it could infect customers.
“The ATM location continues to be the most dangerous as each customer passes through this area and remains there for a period of time as groceries move across the counter,” explained Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Riverside.
“The workers with the highest risk are those who have the most direct contact with other people“said Brian Brown-Cashdollar, program director at the Western New York Occupational Safety and Health Council, an advocacy group for worker safety. Cashiers” have the most exposure. “
Spellman indicated that his sister expressed her concern about working behind the cash register without a mask. Walmart argued that the masks were available to workers since the end of March, including the Kunz store, and on April 20 he began to require employees to use them.
A Walmart spokesperson said: “Our hearts go out to Sandy Kunz and her loved ones. Her loss shows the devastating impact of the covid-19 virus“(Strictly speaking, covid-19 is the disease, the virus is SARS-Cov-2).
Walmart added that in addition to offering masks to its employees, it also took other steps in early March, such as adding social distancing marks and cleaning the surfaces of cash registers more frequently. Later, in the first days of April, the company installed sneeze guards and began limiting the number of customers on the premises.
Retailers have stepped up their security actions as CDC’s guide to the virus evolves. In addition to Walmart, Target, Kroger, Whole Foods and others, they have installed sneeze guards at the cash registers and added social distancing marks in the ranks.
Warehouses are also limiting the number of customers within stores and disinfecting payment stations frequently. Additionally, companies have expanded payment options that do not require contact so that customers do not have to touch screens or enter their passwords.
However, some public health experts and worker advocates believe that measures are not strict enough to protect ATMs, other employees and customers.
For example, major retailers such as Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods do not require people who come in to shop to wear face masks, except for states and cities where the measure is mandatory. And workers also complain that the requirements are often not met.
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, belonging to the work Departmentnotes that stores should consider opening other cash registers to keep workers safe, this is not a requirement and many stores do not implement the measure, said John Grant, president of Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in California, representing 20,000 supermarket workers. About 27% of local employees who got sick from the virus have been ATMs, Grant said.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health, said tellers “need N95 masks as much as healthcare workers“
He believes that all stores should also provide their ATMs face protectors, because many coronavirus carriers are asymptomatic. In China, stores are disinfecting cash, and the United States “should do it sometime, too.”
Cashiers also ensured that limits on the number of customers within stores are implemented unevenly and that it is difficult to keep people separated in lines.
At the Walmart where Kunz worked in Aurora, for example, the local public health department ordered the store to closeThis was due in part to complaints of “lack of social distance” and “too many people in the store at the same time.” Since then, the department has allowed the reopening of the premises and said it has “good safety and health measures.”
The plexiglass barriers that companies installed are of limited help, some tellers noted, because customers lean over or around them to speak to them..
“They don’t protect us adequately,” said a chain teller Target in the state of Louisiana, affiliated with the advocacy group Target Workers Unite. The employee requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. “There is a considerable gap in the plexiglass in each cash register,” he added.
A Target representative declined to comment on the Plexiglas, but said: “We have introduced dozens of new security measures in our stores,” including reminding customers through speakers to be aware of the rules of social distancing.
“In any situation, if a team member feels uncomfortable with performing a specific task, we encourage them to have a conversation with their leader to determine if there are alternative activities they could carry out, “the company said.
Companies have expanded the use of self-pay in recent years, but this also involves risks. “Self-payment can make physical distancing a challenge due to the frequent need for customer assistance,” the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in its guidelines.
Workers stations should be cleaned after each customer, the employees explained, and managing alcohol purchases is especially difficult. This is because a worker has to ask the customer for identification, the customer must remove a mask, and then the worker must check to make sure they match.
There are other concerns, too: “In self-pay, customers tend to surround you when they need help, even with reminders of social distancing,” said a Target worker in North Carolina who is at the cash register part-time and also helps with self-payment. This employee spoke on condition of anonymity. Target declined to comment.
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