Trader Joe’s said its coronavirus safety measures since the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. have mitigated incidence of the virus in its workforce.
In an update issued yesterday, Trader Joe’s said it totaled 1,250 positive COVID-19 cases out of its 53,000 associates over the eight months through Oct. 31, for an infection rate of about 2.4%.
The Monrovia, Calif.-based specialty grocer reported that, of its 514 stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia, 24% had no positive coronavirus cases among their staff over that time frame and 83% had zero to four cases.
“We believe that the results in virtually all areas are below the average rates of positive cases in each community where we have stores,” Trader Joe’s stated.
During the eight-month period, two Trader Joe’s associates died “in which COVID-19 was suspected to be a contributing factor,” the company said. Of workers who tested positive and completed a quarantine period, 95% have recovered and decided to come back to work, the retailer noted.
According to Jon Basalone, president of stores, Trader Joe’s efforts to develop and implement COVID-19 protective measures that exceeded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines paid off in providing a higher level of safety for employees and customers.
“The health and safety practices and procedures that have been put in place, and that continually evolve, have been effective because of the great work done by our crew members in every store, every day,” Basalone said in a statement. “We appreciate our crew members’ diligence and our customers’ patience as we work each day to make our stores safe for everyone.”
Trader Joe’s said it issued the COVID-19 update to provide more transparency to employees and shoppers about cases of the virus at its stores. The company alluded to an Oct. 29 CNN story reporting that 20% of grocery store workers had coronavirus, based on a study by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“Recent stories in the media have discussed the number of positive COVID-19 cases among grocery store workers,” Trader Joe’s stated. “While we do not know the specific details of other grocers, we believe it is important to our crew members and customers to share and understand what has happened in our stores from the beginning of the pandemic through Oct. 31, 2020.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union has criticized grocery retailers for a lack of transparency about the number of store associates who have died from or been infected with COVID-19. In an announcement yesterday on the 2020 elections, UFCW noted that coronavirus remains a threat to frontline workers. Among UFCW’s grocery membership nationwide, at least 108 workers have died from COVID-19 and more than 16,300 workers have been infected or exposed to the virus, the union said.
Trader Joe’s has been recognized for its coronavirus safety efforts. In its inaugural Consumer Health & Safety Index, which benchmarks COVID-19 safety across seven industries, global research firm Ipsos ranked Trader Joe’s behind only Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale as the top-performing retailers for coronavirus protection measures. Trader Joe’s was credited for its social distancing efforts, particularly in limiting store traffic, with 94% of stores visited actively managing shopper capacity at the entrance.
In the second wave of the index, released in September, Trader Joe’s came in at No. 2 among retailers. “Trader Joe’s scored the highest among all 33 retailers included in the index on enforcing distancing measures throughout the store journey,” Ipsos said.