WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Walmart will be closed Thursday afternoon and all day Friday for sanitization after 21 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The store, at 2000 N. Wenatchee Ave., will reopen at 7 a.m. Saturday, according to a corporate news release.
One employee is from Grant County and the rest are from Chelan or Douglas counties, the Chelan-Douglas Health District said in a separate news release. The district became aware of the cases Wednesday.
The health district said all affected employees are asked to isolate for at least 10 days or until they no longer have symptoms, including no fever for 24 hours. A district nurse contacted Walmart management to provide guidance for those employees and anyone who may have been exposed.
The state Department of Health is in charge of local contact tracing efforts.
Businesses are required to notify the local health jurisdiction when they have two or more positive COVID-19 cases, said Chelan-Douglas Health District spokeswoman Veronica Farias. However, it’s up to employees to let their employers know about positive results.
“We then review what the employer’s response is/has been. We request that they do an internal identification of who the positive employee has worked with 2-3 days prior to symptom development or positive test result (whichever is first),” Farias wrote in an email. “We ask that they notify those employees who have had exposure to a known positive case. The positive employee’s name is not disclosed unless they have given the employer permission to do so.”
The district then shares with the employer the current best practices and guidelines from state and federal agencies for people who have tested positive for or been exposed to the virus.
Farias said a recent uptick in cases has made it difficult for the health district to quickly identify “clusters,” which is how it refers to reports of two or more cases.
A third-party specialist will be sanitizing the Wenatchee Walmart, said Anne Hatfield, director of global communications, in an email. The closure will also give employees extra time to restock shelves.
“As an essential business and member of the Wenatchee community, we understand the role we play in providing our customers with food, medicine, and other essential items during this unprecedented time,” Hatfield wrote. “We also understand the area has been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Everything we’re doing is for the well-being of our associates and customers, and in consideration of guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts.”
She said the store will continue health screenings and temperature checks for employees, providing them with masks and gloves, and requiring employees and customers to wear face coverings. The store has also limited the number of customers inside at once, implemented one-way aisles and social distancing signage, and installed Plexiglas shields at registers.
Employees who are unable to work or uncomfortable with going can use the emergency leave policy, Hatfield said.