PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Walmart stores in Tampa Bay are welcoming back customers after they closed for cleaning due to the company’s COVID-19 protocols.
The Plant City store, which is located on James L. Redman Parkway, closed at 2 p.m. Saturday to allow crews to thoroughly clean and sanitize the business. It reopened at 6 a.m. Monday.
The other store, which is located on State Road 60 in Lake Wales, shut down Friday and underwent the same deep cleaning. The store reopened at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The closure comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases statewide, affecting younger populations.
Of the more than 1,000 deaths reported in Florida last week, 36% were younger than 65 years old.
Hillsborough County reported nearly 11,000 new cases over the past week.
A mother in Pinellas County said her son tested positive for the virus right as he was heading back to school.
“He tested positive last weekend so he was quite sick the Wednesday before that. You don’t want to be the kid who gives it to everybody so we’re just being a little big more precautious,” the mother said.
Six employees at Brooksville’s Oak Hill Hospital are out of work after testing positive for the virus.
“I don’t have the staff to take care of these really sick patients that we have and it’s totally unnecessary if people would get the vaccine,” said the hospital’s CEO Mickey Smith.
Walmart sent the following statement to 8 On Your Side regarding the store closures:
Everything we’re doing is for the well-being of our associates and the thousands of customers we serve daily, and in consideration of guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts. Given the rise in positive cases through the Delta variant, we will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission.
In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. You can find the county-by-county breakdown here. The CDC updates its data on transmission rates weekly, so the guidance on mask usage is likely to change over time in different locations.
When the store reopens Sunday, we will continue conducting associate health assessments, and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings.
In addition to offering COVID-19 vaccines to customers through walk-in or online appointments, we’re also offering easy access to vaccines for associates. Associates can receive their vaccinations at their home store pharmacy, on or off the clock,
Should associates choose to schedule their vaccinations elsewhere, we will provide two hours of paid leave. Associates who receive the vaccine are given a $150 bonus for doing so and up to three days paid leave, should they experience and adverse reaction to the vaccine.
These protocols and convenient access to vaccinations are in addition to the extensive measures we’ve put in place during the pandemic to help protect our associates and customers. We will continue working closely with elected and local health officials, adjusting how we serve the community while also keeping the health and safety of our customers and associates in mind.