Bay Area sees produce shortage after Safeway employee at Tracy distribution center dies from coronavirus complications

TRACY, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area residents are seeing a shortage in produce items at grocery stores, mostly at Safeway locations.

This comes the same week the grocery chain confirmed an employee at a distribution center in Tracy passed away from COVID-19.

RELATED: Store shortage fears trigger violent fight at San Francisco Safeway

Wendy Gutshall, Director of Public and Government Affairs for Safeway released this statement:

"Like many of our neighbors in Northern California, COVID-19 has touched our own Safeway family with confirmed diagnoses among our associates. We were saddened to learn that an associate at our Tracy Distribution Center has passed away due to complications related to COVID-19. Our hearts are heavy, and our thoughts are with that associate's family."

The statement also goes on to say "3% of our approximately 1,700 associates at the Tracy Distribution Center have tested positive for COVID-19."

Gutshall also released this statement to ABC7 News regarding why customers are seeing a produce shortage:
"The Produce Warehouse in the Tracy Distribution Center is running short on staff for a variety of reasons and requires us to streamline operations with the remaining team to ensure that our stores are still able to be supplied with the necessary order for our customers. The distribution center will run on the streamline operations structure for the time being, as they continue to secure additional resources."

In Sacramento, food was the main topic at a news conference where Governor Newsom addressed a plan to grant two weeks of paid sick leave to food workers who have been infected with COVID-19.

The California Grocers Association is encouraging people to us grocery delivery services.

RELATED: Supplies still scarce at Walmart, Costco in South Bay

ABC7 spoke with Joshua Marsland outside the Safeway in downtown San Francisco off Jackson Street. Marsland used to be a ride share driver, now he delivers groceries through Instacart.

"Safeways, especially the produce isles, are a lot of the time completely devastated. Pasta's gone, flour is gone, sugar is gone," Marsland said.

For the grocery run he was making when ABC7 talked to him, he wasn't able to get everything on the list that the customer requested. "She ordered 68 items, this woman, and I probably completed about 50 of them and had to do about 20 replacements or some of them I had to refund because they had them out of stock," Marsland said.

Payton McAmara said she was able to find everything she needed at that Safeway location except for yogurt. McAmara said she specifically came to that Safeway because lines at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's were too long.

RELATED: Safeway, Target, Whole Foods offer 'senior hours' during COVID-19 outbreak

Amanda Reis and Nick Comer came with a list of produce items they needed.

"There's zero avocados in there. Yeah completely out. No carrots, very few bell peppers. Surprisingly there were eggs," Reis and Comer said.

Comer said this is the worst he's seen empty produce shelves.

"The idea of it getting worse is worrying but, that remains to be seen. Hopefully we're just seeing a temporary disruption in supply," Comer said.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.