Health

Thirteen Kroger employees in the Louisville division have tested positive for COVID-19 as the grocery chain implements changes to further protect workers.

Workers have tested positive in Louisville, Owensboro, Lexington, Campbellsville and New Albany, Ind., affecting 10 stores and the distribution center, said Kroger spokeswoman Erin Grant.

Grant said each of those locations has been deep cleaned and sanitized, but did not specify which stores have been affected.

“Upon learning of a case, we work closely with state and local health experts, follow all sanitation and cleaning procedures, communicate with and support our store team,” Grant said.

Over the last month, Kroger has implemented a variety of protections for employees and customers, Grant said. Additionally, they’ve hired 2,000 new employees to bolster the growing pick-up business and account for staffing shortages, she said.

Changes that customers might notice at stores include Plexiglas partitions at check lanes, social distancing floor signage and decals and one-way aisles in some smaller stores.

Kroger has waived pick-up order fees to encourage more online orders and they are asking customers to limit their shopping visits to one adult per household.

The chain has also made several changes affecting the Louisville Division’s more than 17,000 employees.

One Kroger manager has said the chain was slow to implement certain protections, but Kroger has begun providing masks and gloves for employees.

“Our store management teams are working tirelessly for their customers and associates, and going above and beyond their normal duties to support their teams. They are working long hours to make sure our communities get what they need to support their families,” Kroger’s Erin Grant said in response.

The grocer is asking workers to monitor their health and take their temperature at home before coming to work, Grant said. If they have a fever, they’re encouraged to stay home.

Employees who are self-isolating or are experiencing symptoms are eligible for paid leave for up to two weeks, but only when verified by a health care professional.

It’s not clear if that verification requires a positive test for COVID-19. Testing remains limited across the country and is not sufficient to test everyone who would like a test.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.