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Walmart Establishes Emergency Leave Policy After Associate Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has created an emergency leave policy amid the coronavirus outbreak after one of its associates tested positive for the virus.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (CBS Local) — Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced an emergency leave policy on Tuesday after one of its associates tested positive for the coronavirus.

The associate at a store in Cynthiana, Kentucky, tested positive for COVID-19, according to a memo sent Tuesday to Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. associates.

“The associate is receiving medical care, and her condition is improving. We wish her a speedy recovery,” Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner wrote.

The giant retailer also said it has “reinforced our cleaning and sanitizing protocol, and, with the support and encouragement of the state government, the [Kentucky] store remains open.”

As part of a new emergency leave policy, Walmart said if an associate is “unable to work” or “uncomfortable to work,” they can stay home. Furner said the company will waive its attendance occurrence policy through the end of April.

Hourly workers who work in a store, club, office or distribution center under a mandated quarantine will receive up to two weeks pay.

Workers who test positive for the virus will receive up to two weeks of pay. If they are not able to return to work after that time, “additional pay replacement may be provided for up to 26 weeks for both full-time and part-time hourly associates.”

Several other major companies operating in the U.S. have also updated their sick leave policies to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

McDonald’s, Apple, Instacart, Uber, Lyft and Darden Restaurants, which manages restaurants like Olive Garden, have taken action to provide its employees with paid sick leave to allow those who feel ill to stay home.

Concerns are growing that workers who suspect they are infected with coronavirus but cannot afford to take time off without pay will continue to work in public and spread the virus.