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Walmart Faces First Wrongful Death Lawsuit from Coronavirus

The family of a 51-year-old associate who worked for 15 years at the retail giant is filing a lawsuit.

The family of a 51-year-old Walmart associate who succumbed to the coronavirus has filed a wrongful death lawsuit over what is alleged to be unsafe working conditions.

The individual, Wando Evans, worked in an Illinois-based Walmart for 15 years, and died on March 25 as a result of COVID-19. Four days later, another co-worker at the Evergreen Park store died from complications of the virus. Evans' estate alleges that the blame for his death lies with Walmart, in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday.

The lawsuit alleges that Walmart did not properly warn employees "that various individuals were experiencing symptoms at the store and may have been infected by COVID-19, which was present and active within in the store."

Walmart said in a statement, "We are heartbroken at the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store and we are mourning along with their families. While neither associate had been at the store in more than a week, we took action to reinforce our cleaning and sanitizing measures, which include a deep-cleaning of key areas."

The coronavirus outbreak has people around the world rethinking everyday activities in the name of curtailing the spread of the deadly contagion. The vast majority of state governors in the United States have issued a stay-at-home order for nonessential businesses and employees. Grocery stores and pharmacies, however, are the very nature of essential businesses.

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Studies show how the contagion can live for hours on a variety of materials, and for as long as 15 to 30 minutes in the air. If one wants to limit interaction with other people and limit touching of public spaces, then grocery shopping is a high-risk activity in the time of COVID-19.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force member, recently said "This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and friends safe."

Grocery store employees are very much on the front line of this battle and are literally putting their lives at risk by showing up for work. Walmart recently announced new policies to protect both consumers and employees to keep them safe from the potentially deadly contagion. Walmart's policies focused on regulating entry into each store to limit the number of concurrent shoppers and instituting a one-way shopping pattern to limit interaction.

As time passes, Mr. Evans and his associate will only be the first of what will likely be a very many fatalities from grocery store clerks.

READ MORE: 7 Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
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