You might never have noticed, but working in a grocery store has always been an up-close business. Add COVID-19, and it becomes risky.
"It's most definitely scary," said Hannah Haines-Hailer of United Markets in Marin County. On Thursday, she stood in line as a county health coronavirus testing station set up outside.
Cases spiked last week in Marin County with 100 new positive tests, mostly among people working in essential businesses. Grocery workers topped the list.
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"I just want to make sure than everyone else around us feels safe," said Haines-Hailer. "I am not feeling ill or anything."
She, along with the 145 employees, took the test in the company's two stores. When the county offered, CEO Kelly Smith had no second thoughts.
"I kept saying, 'I just want to sell apples,'" Smith said. "It used to be such an easy business. They are like my family. I am Mama Bear and I want to protect them."
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As county health describes it, this amounts to staying ahead of a pandemic that infected six grocery workers last week alone. United Markets agreed to test along with Mollie Stone's.
Other larger chains have declined. That disappoints Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis, who recovered after being Marin County's 39th of 420 cases, and counting.
"Well, we're really hoping that every employer recognizes this is a matter of community health that we test people," he said.
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Haines-Hailer's described the experience as, "It was kind of like someone squirting water up your nose in a way..."
Then she returned to work in close quarters, as always, and hoped for reassuring results.
"We'll know in two days," she said.
"And then they want to test you again in a month," we reminded her.
"I didn't hear that one yet."
She just did.
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