Publix Super Markets Inc. has confirmed workers at two Central Florida stores, including one in Lakeland, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Maria Brous, director of communications at the Lakeland-based supermarket chain, confirmed one employee of the store at 11205 E. State Road 70 in Bradenton had tested positive for the coronavirus and that multiple employees of the store at 6767 U.S. Highway 98 N in the Lake Gibson Shopping Center had confirmed cases, she said in a Friday email to The Ledger.
Citing privacy laws, she declined to release further information on those cases, including severity and whether any required hospitalization.
In accordance with the company’s policy, the workers were given 14 days of paid leave and advised to stay in quarantine, Brous said.
Brous responded to The Ledger’s request for COVID-19 information regarding stores in Lakeland specifically and across the company’s 1,244 supermarkets in seven Southeastern U.S. states. She declined to provide companywide information.
“The testing and reporting of cases by health departments varies widely state-by-state,” Brous said. “As a result, we cannot fully and accurately report cases in real time, but we have been, and will continue to be, keenly focused on intensive, ongoing protective measures in all our stores.”
rous detailed some of the safety measures Publix has undertaken in response to the coronavirus pandemic under guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including
‒ A heightened, ongoing disinfection program focusing on frequently touched surfaces, such as touch pads, door handles and computers.
‒ Notification, quarantine and paid leave for up to 14 days for associates who have been in close contact with the associate who tests positive for COVID-19.
‒ Installation of Plexiglas shields at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies in all stores.
‒ In-store signs, one-way directional aisles and regular public address announcements reminding customers and associates of social distancing.
‒ Floor markers for appropriate six-foot spacing at checkout registers.
‒ Requiring workers to wear face masks.
“Like other essential service providers, we have seen our own associates and their families personally impacted by COVID-19,” Brous said. “Unfortunately, as public health officials have indicated, we expect to see an increase in cases as the virus spreads in our communities.