Pasadena Whole Foods Employee Dies From COVID-19

Paige Austin

PASADENA , CA — An employee at a Pasadena Whole Foods has died from COVID-19, the company confirmed Friday.

The employee of the store at 3751 E. Foothill Blvd died May 8, just days after the store confirmed its first case of coronavirus among employees. The grocery store has been a vital resource for the community during the shutdown. Employees, deemed essential workers during the shutdown, were offered hazard pay, a $2 raise to stay on the job despite risk of exposure to the disease. As other grocery chains begin to rescind their hazard pay raises, Whole Foods has not yet made an announcement about its continued hazard pay.

The company issued a statement on the passing of its employee Friday.

“As a community, we are mourning the loss of a beloved member of our Pasadena Foothill store team, whose passing on May 8, 2020 was due to COVID-19. Our hearts are with her family and friends as we all grieve this terrible loss. We are supporting her fellow Team Members by providing counseling support in the days ahead.”

Pasadena has been hard hit by the outbreak with 55 new cases confirmed Friday for a total of 662 cases overall and 69 deaths.

Since the start of the outbreak, the company has instituted a number of safety measures.

"We have installed plexiglass barriers at checkout and are requiring temperature checks and face masks for anyone working in our stores and facilities,'' a spokesperson said. "We have implemented enhanced daily cleanliness and disinfection protocols…on top of our standard stringent protocols. We are closing stores up to two hours early to give our team members more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores, and rest in preparation for the next day.”

Similar measures have been adopted by other essential businesses. However, essential workers continued to fall ill at higher rates than people able to stay home during the pandemic, according to a UC San Francisco study. Of thousands of Bay Area people tested for the coronavirus, 90% of those who tested positive were workers who had to leave home to work, the Los Angeles Times reported.

City News Service has contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on the Pasadena Patch