The Kroger Co. has begun offering frontline workers free coronavirus tests, based on symptoms and medical need.
Kroger said Monday that its Kroger Health health care arm will provide the COVID-19 testing through a combination of self-administered kits and the company’s public drive-thru test sites. Just over a week ago, Kroger announced it was piloting site-specific testing for Kroger associates in Michigan and Colorado.
“At Kroger, the safety and health of our associates and customers remains our top priority during this unprecedented time,” Tim Massa, senior vice president and chief people officer at Cincinnati-based Kroger, said in a statement. “Our associates have worked tirelessly to provide communities continued access to fresh, affordable food. We are dedicated to providing support and gratitude to our associates across the country.”
Last week, Kroger said it aims to roll out drive-thru testing to 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May. The Kroger Health website currently shows drive-thru testing available at 13 sites in six states: Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Patients remain in their cars during the tests, which are completed in just a few minutes using self-administered nasal swab test kits. Test results are expected within about 48 hours. About 250 to 330 tests have been performed daily by Kroger Health.
According to Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, the move to test more associates expands the COVID-19 testing already under way in areas with high incidence of infection.
“We’re doing all we can to keep our team healthy and safe,” Lindholz stated. “The widespread availability of diagnostic testing will now allow our associates to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about their health, creating safer stores and facilities.”
Also on Monday, Kroger released the third installment of its “Blueprint for Businesses” guide, which provides a series of recommendations — based on Kroger’s coronavirus response — to companies across industries as they determine reopening plans. The latest installment, titled “People” (Section 3), focuses on the needs, well-being and health of employees in various workplace settings. The first two installments addressed retail operations and manufacturing.
Among its employee support efforts during the pandemic, Kroger has stepped up its investment in personal protective equipment (PPE), including supplying face masks to all associates; augmented benefits packages, which include health coverage and retirement benefits; offered financial assistance to associates facing personal hardship from COVID-19, including lack of access to child care; and instituted emergency leave guidelines to provide paid time off to workers directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms.