At least 20 employees of two Santa Fe supermarkets are in quarantine following six separate reports of coronavirus cases to the New Mexico Environment Department this month.
Smith’s Food & Drug at 2308 Cerrillos Road reported four cases among employees Tuesday to the Environment Department. This was the most reported at one time by a New Mexico grocer, according to the department’s Rapid Response Data list.
The same Smith’s store also reported single cases on Monday, Aug. 19 and Aug. 6, the Rapid Response list shows.
State health officials conducted an on-site inspection Wednesday at the Smith’s store. The store remains open.
“The department determined Smith’s had taken actions to protect employees including quarantine of eight close contacts of the positive cases, disinfecting the store after working hours and implementing COVID-Safe Practices,” Occupational Health and Safety bureau chief Robert Genoway said in a statement.
He added the Environment Department will continue to investigate to determine whether Smith’s violated any occupational health and safety laws or regulations.
The Smith’s Food & Drug corporate office in Salt Lake City provided a statement but did not respond to any questions from The New Mexican.
“If we’ve been informed by public health officials that an associate has tested positive for COVID-19, we work closely with state and local health experts, follow all sanitation and cleaning procedures, communicate with and support our store team, and with the support of the state officials, work to keep our stores clean, stocked and open,” Smith’s corporate affairs manager Aubriana Martindale wrote in a statement. “We will continue to follow guidance from local, state and federal agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations.”
Albuquerque-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1564 President Greg Frazier estimates about 50 union members working at New Mexico grocery stores have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The employees [at the Smith’s on Cerrillos] and us are a little frustrated,” Frazier said. “The company does not share that information [about confirmed cases] as readily or as quickly as they should. The employees are also upset because they usually learn about it from another source like social media.”
Frazier said the union gives every member who tests positive for COVID-19 a $150 gift card.
“We continue to push that employers bring back hero and hazard pay,” he said.