23 Detroit Whole Foods employees test positive for COVID-19, city officials say

23 out of 196 employees tested positive

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 26: A line of customers exhibiting social distancing is shown at a Whole Foods grocery store as the coronavirus pandemic continues on April 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued orders of social distancing limiting customers inside of stores in the State due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) (Aaron J. Thornton, 2020 Aaron J. Thornton)

DETROIT – The city of Detroit has reported that 23 Whole Foods Market employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair, the city’s health department were informed of positive cases at the store on Mack Avenue and offered rapid testing.

Out of 196 employees, 23 tested positive, Fair said.

“We have received a commitment from Whole Foods that no workers or close contacts of any employee who has tested positive will be allowed back to work until they have produced a negative test result,” she said in a statement. “This is a reminder to all grocery stores of the availability of vaccinations and the importance of getting their employees vaccinated to make sure this does not happen again.”

Whole Foods issued a statement, saying:

“The safety of our Team Members and customers remains our top priority, which is why we address any confirmed diagnosis in our stores with a comprehensive action plan that includes enhanced cleaning and contact tracing, as well as communicating directly with our Team Members. We support any Team Member who is diagnosed positive or placed in quarantine so they can prioritize their health and stay home. We have rolled out extensive measures to keep people safe in our stores and are diligently following all guidance from local health and food safety authorities.”

COVID outbreak hits employees at Detroit's Whole Foods Market

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), said the outbreak at the store was “another wake-up call to grocery companies and elected leaders that these brave essential workers deserve and have earned more protections and must be immediately prioritized for vaccine access.”

The union represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, including more than 44,000 in Michigan.

“The Whole Foods outbreak further proves what UFCW has warned the public about for months -- that national grocery companies must stop making excuses and must immediately increase worker protections, enforce mask wearing in stores, provide hazard pay, and commit to disclosing when frontline workers have been infected and died,” Perrone added.


About the Author:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.