Fred Meyer says local store had 3 recent COVID-19 cases; workers quarantined, recovered

Fred Meyer says local store had 3 recent COVID-19 cases; workers quarantined, recovered

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Three COVID-19 cases have been reported at another local Fred Meyer amid widespread community transmission of the virus.

On Wednesday, Fred Meyer confirmed three cases were reported “weeks ago” among workers at its Tacoma store at 4505 S. 19th St. The store employs more than 320 workers, according to the retailer.

According to a statement from Fred Meyer media representative Jeffery Temple: “All had self-quarantined in alignment with the company’s Emergency Leave Guidelines, have fully recovered, and returned to work.”

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Original information on the cases came from a news tip sent to The News Tribune on Wednesday.

According to Wednesday’s statement: “The store has had a professional third-party sanitation company provide deep cleaning multiple times.”

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not make public outbreaks at businesses unless the site has at least 10 cases and 30 or more employees.

On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Chen, director of the health department, told The News Tribune in a separate interview that the department’s reporting standard aims to avoid stigmatizing people or businesses.

“I think the important point is COVID-19 right now is widespread in the community,” Chen said.

He added that the department could consider more general reporting of business outbreaks, possibly by type of business.

“We don’t want people stigmatizing other people; we don’t want people avoiding businesses because they heard that the business had an outbreak,” Chen said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s news follows other grocery store cases reported last week at a Tacoma Safeway and Sumner Fred Meyer, both also revealed by news tips later confirmed by the grocers’ corporate offices.

“Yesterday we were working with 22 new businesses, and it’s not always that high, but it’s not unusual for us to have like 20 businesses we’re working with,” he said.