coronavirus

Swampscott Whole Foods Employee Dies From Coronavirus

The grocery store worker passed away on April 15, according to a company spokesperson

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An employee at the Whole Foods Market in Swampscott, Massachusetts, died from the coronavirus this week, the company confirmed Friday.

“Whole Foods Market is mourning the loss of a member of our community who passed away on April 15, 2020 due to COVID-19," a company spokesperson said. "Our hearts are with his loved ones during this incredibly difficult time, and with his fellow Team Members at our Swampscott, Massachusetts store. We are offering counseling support to our Team Members as we grieve this tremendous loss."

The company did not release the employee's name, age or any other information. It also did not say what measures are being taken at the store.

But his family identified him as Leon Marin.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who lives in Swampscott, said Friday that grocery workers like Marin have demonstrated how seriously they take their roles as essential workers.

"I don't know anything about them other than they are someone who stepped up at a time when a lot of people have stepped up and I'm sure, for his or her loved ones, this is going to be one of the worst experiences they've ever had," he said.

Earlier this month, an employee at Market Basket in nearby Salem died of the coronavirus.

Vitalina Williams tested positive on March 28. Her husband said her death came shockingly fast. Two other employees at the store also tested positive for COVID-19 and quarantined themselves and their close contacts, the company said.

Employees at other grocery store chains across New England have also tested positive for coronavirus as the outbreak continues to impact the region.

Workers from a number of grocery stores protested outside the Whole Foods store in Boston's South End Tuesday to to demand "adequate protections" for employees amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The state Department of Health issued an executive order on April 8 requiring grocery stores to limit occupancy to no more than 40%. The occupant count includes customers and employees.

Stores with a maximum capacity of 25 are exempt from the limit.

If lines form outside the store, staff are required to monitor the line and ensure proper social distancing. Local law enforcement are to be notified if physical security concerns arise.

Baker said last week that Massachusetts is expecting as many as 172,000 coronavirus cases, with a potential peak in hospitalizations between April 10 and April 20.

Massachusetts reported more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths for the third straight day on Thursday, and the total number of people to test positive has now topped 32,000.

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