Essential employees continue to serve customers despite possible COVID-19 exposure

Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 19:02:44-04

AKRON, Ohio — As more businesses shut down following Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, essential businesses like gas stations and grocery stores remain open, and employees there are putting themselves at risk as they continue to serve customers.

But safety precautions are being put in place to keep those employees safe.

At Acme Fresh Market in Akron, plastic shields were installed at registers to separate cashiers and customers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Customers are also being asked not to bring in reusable bags or cloth bags to the stores to help minimize handling exposures to employees. As for customers, there are taped lines every six feet at key locations to remind them to practice social distancing.

Giant Eagle is taking a similar approach. The store announced it will be installing plexiglass dividers to checkout and customer service areas within Giant Eagle, Market District, Pharmacy, and GetGo locations. Floor indicators and signage will also be installed at checkout lanes, visually indicating appropriate social distance between guests. Giant Eagle customers are also being asked to refrain from bringing reusable bags into stores.

When it comes to other essential businesses like the U.S. Postal Service, a regional representative for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) says they are checking in on post offices throughout the state and addressing any concerns to endure all postal workers are safe. Employees who have concerns about unsafe work conditions is being encouraged to report to their local and regional union representatives.

“Whenever any concerns come up we try to address them each individually. If there's any kind of equipment missing or whatever we’re working closely with the postal service to get those supplies out to where it’s needed,” said NALC National Business Agent, Mark Camilli.

Camilli says they are encouraging postal workers to follow CDC guidelines.

“There’s been maintenance people that do go around and clean the work areas and vehicles, but also letter carriers have began using sanitizing wipes to periodically wipe down their steering wheels, wipe down their door knobs, window knobs and anything that they touch periodically,” he explained. “They’re using different cleaning solutions some that are mixed with like a Clorox percentage mix. There’s also gloves. At this point, there’s surgical masks that have been available upon request.”

Regarding pharmacies, safety precautions have been put in place as well. A spokesperson for CVS tells News 5 the company has procured “a large amount” of masks and will be providing them to all store employees soon. The store is also taking additional measures to ensure proper social distancing at the pharmacy counter by encouraging customers to utilize its free delivery services and drive-thru to receive service.