Kroger and Meijer, two major Michigan grocer retailers, have reported their first coronavirus-related employee deaths from five separate locations.
According to a statement from Kroger and Meijer, in response to inquiries from the Detroit Free Press, four Kroger employees at four different locations and one employee from an undisclosed Meijer location have all passed away due to complications with COVID-19.
An email from Ken DeLuca, president of The Kroger Co. of Michigan, outlined the deaths and stated:
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of four Kroger family members who worked at our stores in Northville (425 North Center), Troy (3125 John R), Grosse Pointe (16919 Kercheval), and Livonia (30935 5 Mile Rd), Michigan. We are mourning along with their families during this extraordinarily difficult time.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the five deaths “are believed to be the first known deaths of grocery store workers reported in Michigan.”
Kroger and Meijer also made it clear that they are working with health professionals to protect their other associates and customers in Michigan by cleaning and sanitizing often. Meijer also said they have informed associates at affected stores of the deaths
In a statement, a spokesman for Meijer said:
We are deeply saddened to confirm that we have recently lost our first Meijer team members as a result of complications due to COVID-19. Out of respect for the team members and their families, we will not share any additional details and ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.
As of Saturday, Michigan had reported 1,392 deaths due to COVID-19. Nearly 24,000 confirmed cases have been reported statewide in Michigan.
On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order by about two weeks, until April 30th, to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families,” Whitmer said.
“Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe,” Whitmer added. “That’s good, but we must keep it up.”
Earlier this month, Kroger reached a deal with the United Food and Commercial Workers local 876 for “Hero Pay” and other safety measures for Kroger employees. The Detroit Free Press said the agreement “also included a promise to provide masks and other safety equipment to workers as soon as they become available.” In addition to the agreement, Kroger seeks to hire an additional 2,000 employees in Michigan.