coronavirus

23 Workers at Worcester Walmart Test Positive for Coronavirus

The store closed after nearly two dozen employees tested positive for COVID-19

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The Walmart in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been shut down by emergency order of the city after a cluster of coronavirus cases.

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus said 23 employees of the store off Route 146 tested positive for COVID-19 over the past three and a half weeks.

The bulk happened over the past seven days.

"The Walmart is now closed and it will not be allowed to reopen until it is professionally cleaned," said Augustus.

All of the 400 employees that work at the Walmart now need to be tested, or retested, before the store can open again.

Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said he thinks the safest thing for the community "is to have the store close, so people aren't put at risk by continuing to shop there."

Community health advocate Joanne Suarez says the Walmart workers are at higher risk for the virus because they are essential employees. She says the company and community have to be mindful of safeguarding the employees who have to show up to work and can't stay home.

"They're already vulnerable. They have to go out there an make money, they can't afford to say, 'No, I got to take the day off, now is really not time.' They need food, they need to keep a roof over their heads," Suarez said.

Meanwhile, the city says it will be moving swiftly to make sure the employees are tested fast.

"We're going to try to put up a testing system for their employees in the next two days so that we can see if we can get them back online, sometime over the weekend, if possible," said Hirsh.

NBC10 Boston reached out to the Walmart Wednesday night to see if these employees would be paid during the closure, but the store has not responded.

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