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SWFL Publix workers positive for coronavirus a reminder to remain vigilant

Friday, Publix announced the first reported coronavirus cases of employees at locations in Southwest Florida. Four locations were confirmed to have more than four workers positive for COVID-19. We looked into the continued need for safety and how this serves as an exemplary reminder during the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Click here to see confirmed SWFL Publix locations

Medical experts say this is one of the reasons why easing restrictions quickly could prove to be bad for our communities.

“If you can consolidate, if you can send one person, the entire family doesn’t need to go out on these occasions,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, with the president’s Coronavirus Task Force.

And Southwest Florida grocers, such as Sunflower Discount Surplus Market, are helping people consolidate their trips, even to the deli.

“We’ve been doing Bite Squad and GrubHub delivery for some time,” said Lisa Crawford, the co-owner of Sunflower Discount. “Obviously, that’s picked up quite a lot right now … It used to be just a sandwich here and there. Now, it’s … you can tell the whole family is ordering.”

The CDC recommends only going to the grocery store for essentials and to now wear a mask.

“At least put on a mask or a scarf or some kind of face-covering to not only protect them but to protect everyone else around them,” said Dr. Robert Hawkes, the director of the FGCU physician assistant program,

Hawkes says that’s in addition to staying six feet apart, going at low-traffic hours, early in the morning or later in the day for example.

“For folks with underlying medical conditions, it would be best if someone else could shop for them or if they can do some of the online pickup,” Hawkes said.

New options are becoming available. Ride-share programs such as Lyft are rolling out grocery delivery.

Touchless payment, when you use your phone’s mobile wallet, is also offering ways to better follow coroanvirus guidelines for essential activities.

“It’s a completely different world,” Crawford said. “You see people really kind of skirted around each other and having this whole respect for space that we’ve never had before.”

The best thing you can do for your fellow human if you have to go to the store this weekend is shop in and out quickly.

Publix says it is providing masks and gloves for workers. But it is their choice whether or not to wear them, unless it’s required by law.

Publix says employees are also washing their hands frequently, implemented one-way aisles and added plexiglass at checkouts.

What about the crowded aisles we still see at some stores? It’s likely one reason experts say we will see a slow rather than sudden reopening of stores in the future.

“I think what we’re seeing now is because people have been kind of [been] staying close to home for a week or longer,” Hawkes said. “They get out. and they want to start talking to people or see people they know and talk to their friends, so it’s kind of human nature.”

 

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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