Walmart Says It Won't Do This if You Contract COVID-19 in Its Stores

This decision is better left in the hands of local health officials, Walmart Says

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The coronavirus pandemic has presented businesses of all kinds with countless new challenges. Perhaps more so than ever before, ensuring the safety of customers and employees is as important as it is complex. And one of the hardest decisions companies are currently faced with is whether or not to disclose information about employees who test positive for COVID-19. Walmart, for one, has adopted the approach that favors personal privacy.

In an email to the Orlando Sentinel, a spokesperson said in the event an employee tests positive for coronavirus, the company will leave the task of publicly identifying that person to local health officials "out of respect and privacy for our associates' personal health." Not offering up the names of infected individuals, however, doesn't mean the retail giant isn't doing its part, Walmart says.

"In the case we do have a confirmed case at any of our stores, we are working with those associates and offering guidance and time needed to receive medical care," the spokesperson said. "We have processes in place to inform associates."

older male walmart employee stocking shelves
Shutterstock/PJiiiJane

Walmart and other stores that choose not to provide names are within their legal rights to do so, as there is no law at either the state or national level that requires businesses to identify infected employees. It's really more of a moral decision governed by one's sense of right and wrong. But that doesn't make it any less nuanced, experts say.

"There's no one right answer in this regard," Mark Bush, a program coordinator for health services administration at the University of Central Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel. "I think it's really a decision each business has to make."

Walmart has taken safety precautions such as temperature checks and a mask mandate for all employees, but they seem to draw the line with revealing personal information to the officials. "The health department is the local authority on if and when such information should be reported for the safety of the community," the spokesperson said.

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While Bush says there is no right or wrong answer for businesses, he believes that from a personal perspective, individuals have an important responsibility to recognize.

"What you need to do as a citizen is protect yourself and protect the community," he said. And for more on coronavirus safety practices, check out These Are the Only Remaining States With No Face Mask Requirement.

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