Union calls for Missouri governor to make masks mandatory in grocery, retail stores

“The CDC specifically mentions grocery stores in their latest recommendation that we all wear cloth facial coverings in public,” says Local 655 President David Cook

Sam Masterson
April 08, 2020 - 12:38 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Missouri’s grocery workers union is urging Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and other political officials to enact a new rule amid the coronavirus crisis that would require customers in grocery stores and other retail businesses to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times.

This comes one day after a Schnucks employee at the Ladue location tested positive for COVID-19. Schnucks says the store at 8867 Ladue Road is open on Wednesday after "a deep cleaning and was sanitized per CDC guidelines." The employee is currently quarantined at home and the last time the person worked at the store was on April 2, Schnucks says.

A letter was sent to Gov. Parson on Wednesday and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 President David Cook is urging all shoppers to take this step in response to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: Panera Bread is selling groceries like produce, milk, bread
Related: St. Louis County calling on the National Guard for COVID-19 testing help

“The CDC specifically mentions grocery stores in their latest recommendation that we all wear cloth facial coverings in public,” Cook says. “Our grocery workers and pharmacy techs are doing incredible work right now, and they are putting themselves at risk to do it. More masks will slow the spread of this virus down, period.”

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page urged his fellow Missourians to keep their faces covered, especially when at their local grocery store.

"This is a simple way to help protect workers and the general public," Page says. "Please thank them and protect them by wearing a cloth mask when you go into the store."

Here is the full letter sent to Gov. Parson: 

Missouri’s Grocery Workers Union Urges New Rules to Protect Essential Workers by EntercomSTL on Scribd

Over the past several weeks, the union has asked that Gov. Parson deem all grocery workers and pharmacy technicians as “temporary first responders” and sought expanded access to testing and PPE. They’ve also sough “essential workers” status from Gov. Parson to ensure they’ll have access to childcare via the additional money provided by congress through the Child Care and Development Block Grants. Gov. Parson has not responded to either request.

Related: Schnucks, Dierbergs now limiting customers to 1 shopper per household

Some grocery stores in the St. Louis area have begun to limit the number of customers in its stores. All 23 Dierbergs Markets locations in Missouri and its two Illinois locations are limiting the number of customers allowed inside at any given time. Schnucks started the same policy at its stores on Saturday. 

Also at Dierbergs, once a store has reached capacity, waiting lines will begin forming at clearly designated entrances outside of the store. 

As of Tuesday, 586 people in the St. Louis region were hospitalized for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, or for symptoms indicating possible infection. Of those, 239 were in intensive care and 186 were on ventilators.

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