Kroger requires workers to wear masks; to pilot COVID-19 testing for employees

Marianne Wilson
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The Kroger Co. continues to add new measures to protect its customers and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of April 26, the supermarket giant is requiring all employees to wear a mask while at work. Kroger will provide the masks; employees are also free to use their own suitable masks or facial covering.

“We recognize that some associates, due to medical reasons or other circumstances, may not be able to wear a mask,” the retailer stated. “Such situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We are sourcing face shields to provide to those associates and will also explore other potential options, as needed.”

In separate news, Kroger Health, the healthcare division of Kroger, announced the expansion of free COVID-19 testing sites to Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, joining existing sites in Kentucky and Tennessee, for all priority groups, including healthcare workers, first responders and symptomatic groups. 

Additionally, the company will begin piloting site-specific testing for Kroger associates in Michigan and Colorado, while also empowering its own pharmacists to initiate the lab order and observe self-administered testing where allowable by applicable law. For the testing, patients remain in their cars throughout the process, which is completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits. The test uses self-administered nasal swabs, which are less painful and designed to increase safety. 

Kroger Health's initial testing sites launched in early April, with two sites in both Kentucky and Tennessee. On April 12, Kroger Health and the Commonwealth of Kentucky announced a partnership to expand testing centers across Kentucky that doubled testing across the state. To date, Kroger has tested more than 2,600 people in Kentucky. 

Kroger Health is now expanding testing to Denver; Detroit; Bowling Green, Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro, Ky.; Memphis; and Dayton and Toledo, Ohio.

“At Kroger Health, we are proud to be part of the solution by enabling more Americans – including our own associates – to have access to testing while continuing to provide a safe environment within our stores. We welcome this opportunity to expand our efforts in our nation's battle against COVID-19," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "We know widespread testing is critical to containing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve."