Mass. Walmart Closed for Cleaning After 23 Employees Test Positive for Coronavirus

The city said a deep cleaning would begin Thursday

A Walmart store in Worcester is set to undergo a deep cleaning Thursday after nearly two dozen workers tested positive for the new coronavirus this month, forcing the location to shut down.

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus said Wednesday that 23 employees of the store off Route 146 had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease cause by the novel coronavirus.

The first employee tested positive on April 8, but the bulk of the cases emerged over the past week, he said.

Worcester’s health department stepped in and shutdown the Walmart location after 23 employees tested positive for coronavirus. Now all of the 400 essential employees need to be tested or retested before the store can open.

The store will not be allowed to re-open until it is professionally cleaned. The city said the cleaning would begin Thursday.

In addition, all of the nearly 400 employees must be tested or re-tested for the virus.

"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 Worcester Medical Director Michael P. Hirsh, Tuesday.

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.

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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