PORTLAND, Ore. — Correction: Fred Meyer says it did notify workers of their infected colleague. This article originally said employees were not notified.
Fred Meyer said Thursday an employee working at its Northeast Glisan store in Portland tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
“In partnership with the health department we stayed open,” said Jeffery Temple, spokesman for the Portland retail chain. Willamette Week first reported the positive test.
Fred Meyer initially said two employees had tested positive in Portland but then updated that information to say only one had. Another employee, in the Seattle area, tested positive March 5.
“We hired a third party company to come in overnight, when we closed the store, to do a thorough sanitization process,” Temple said.
The employee’s last day in the store was March 10, according to Temple. He said he didn’t know when the employee tested positive or what departments he or she worked in, and said Fred Meyer didn’t notify customers.
“We follow the guidelines for communications with the health department. We defer to the experts,” Temple said.
“We’re super concerned about that. If somebody is exposed I think that it is just common sense that they should get to know that," said Dan Clay, president United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 555, which represents Fred Meyer workers and other grocery employees in the region.
Clay said the union is taking steps to ensure grocery workers receive notification in the future so "our members get the knowledge they deserve to make informed decisions instead of going in blind.”
Oregon has had 88 positive tests for the coronavirus and has linked three deaths to COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus.
In some cases offices or whole buildings have shut down following a positive test and the state has instructed people not to gather in groups of more than 25. Gov. Kate Brown ordered bars and restaurants shut in hopes of containing the outbreak.
Authorities have made an exception for grocery stores, declaring them essential services. Customers and employees remain at risk of exposure, though, and some supermarket chains have asked customers to reserve some shopping hours for older customers and others at heightened risk from the virus.
This article was originally published by The Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.