Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, the nation's largest retailer and the employer of 1.4 million hourly workers, announced Tuesday that it will be taking additional steps, including temperature checks, to safeguard its employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint statement, John Furner, president & CEO, Walmart U.S., and Kath McLay, president & CEO, Sam’s Club, said that the company will begin taking the temperatures of associates as they report to work in stores, clubs and facilities, as well as asking them some basic health screening questions. Walmart and Sam’s Club are in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all locations, which could take up to three weeks.
Any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary. The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.
“Many associates have already been taking their own temperatures at home, and we’re asking them to continue that practice as we start doing it on-site,” the statement read. “And we’ll continue to ask associates to look out for other symptoms of the virus (coughing, feeling achy, difficulty breathing) and never come to work when they don’t feel well.”
Walmart’s current COVID-19 emergency leave policy allows associates to stay home if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms, concerns, illness or are quarantined, with the knowledge that their jobs will be protected.
Furner and McLay also issued more guidance to associates regarding the use of masks and gloves. “While the CDC and other health officials do not recommend masks or gloves for healthy people who don't ordinarily use them for their jobs, we will make them available — as supplies permit — for associates who want to wear them,” according to the statement. “We encourage anyone who would like to wear a mask or gloves at work to ask their supervisor for them, while keeping in mind that it is still possible to spread germs while wearing them.”
The high-quality masks will not be N95 respirators, which should be reserved for at-risk healthcare workers. They should arrive at stores in one to two weeks.
“We continue to follow and communicate the CDC’s recommended guidance on behaviors like washing hands, social distancing and the cleaning of surfaces,” Furner and McLay stated. “And we have made significant operational changes in our stores, clubs, DCs and FCs this month — such as closing overnight for cleaning, starting to install sneeze guards at checkout and pharmacies, using wipes and sprayers for carts, putting in signing for social distancing and implementing a COVID-19 emergency leave policy.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club are also implementing a new framework with associates regarding healthy behaviors at work. “We’re asking them to remember three numbers: 6, 20 and 100,” Walmart said.
6 feet is the amount of space people should keep from others, when possible, to maintain social distancing.
20 seconds is the amount of time people should take to wash their hands with soap and water.
And 100 is the temperature that someone should stay home with.
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