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Two Publix employees test positive for coronavirus at Clearwater stores

The Lakeland-based supermarket sent memos to employees but hasn’t communicated the results to the public yet.
Customers come and go Thursday morning from the Publix supermarket at 525 S Belcher Road, where employees were informed that a co-worker had tested positive for coronavirus.
Customers come and go Thursday morning from the Publix supermarket at 525 S Belcher Road, where employees were informed that a co-worker had tested positive for coronavirus. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Apr. 2, 2020
Updated Apr. 3, 2020

Update: Publix has since responded to the Times and confirmed the cases in Clearwater.

CLEARWATER — Two Publix employees who work at different stores in Clearwater have tested positive for COVID-19, according to internal company memos sent to staff.

The affected stores are at 525 S Belcher Road and 1555 S Highland Ave. As of Thursday morning, Publix had not commented publicly about the memos.

The Belcher road case was first reported by Bay News 9, which obtained a copy of a memo sent to employees on Wednesday. News of the Highland Avenue store case was shared with staff on Tuesday, according to a memo obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

Employees at the Belcher Road store were told the location was cleaned and disinfected based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The memos said that employees who worked directly with those infected were self-quarantining at home.

“We feel transparency in this emerging public health situation is of utmost importance in order to ensure the health and safety of Publix associates, your families and our customers," Publix wrote to the staff of the Highland Avenue store.

Publix did not immediately respond to a Times request for comment.

In a statement to Bay News 9, Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said the Lakeland-based supermarket chain “cannot fully and accurately report cases in real time” because testing varies state to state.

“But we have been, and will continue to be keenly focused on intensive, ongoing protective measures in all our stores,” Brous told Bay News 9.

Publix has locations in seven southeastern states.

Publix has said it provides paid leave for up to 14 days who test positive for the virus or have been in close contact with someone who has.

The company recently confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County, but the only case posted to its press release webpage was March 23 in Cummings, Ga.

At that time, Publix said, the Georgia Department of Public Health considered customers to be at a “low risk of exposure."

The company has been installing small plexiglass barriers as “sneeze-guards” at checkout lanes.

Related: Publix now allows certain employees to wear masks and gloves

Earlier this week, Publix told employees in certain departments they could begin wearing disposable masks and gloves.

Publix is providing gloves to employees who regularly handle cash. The store said due to a national shortage, it is unable to supply employees with disposable masks.

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