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Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain, is expanding access to COVID-19 testing to its front line workers depending upon their symptoms and medical needs as the highly contagious virus continues to spread.
Starting this month, Kroger Health – the company's health care division – will offer workers self-administered testing kits or an appointment at one of the company's public drive-thru testing sites.
"The resilience of the Kroger family is unparalleled, and we're doing all we can to keep our team healthy and safe," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "The widespread availability of diagnostic testing will now allow our associates to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about their health, creating safer stores and facilities."
The company's health care division has been working to offer free testing to communities across the nation. In late April, the company, which owns dozens of grocery chains including Fred Meyer and Food4Less, announced plans to expand its drive-thru testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May.
Throughout the pandemic, grocery stores, deemed an essential service, have remained open. Employees, many of which fear for their own health, continue to stand on the front lines as residents throughout the country stock up on supplies. In April, four Michigan employees became ill and died from the virus, according to multiple reports.
In addition to testing, Kroger implemented numerous procedures and programs to ensure the well-being of its team.
Since the outbreak, the grocer has increased its investment in personal protective equipment. The stores also implemented additional safety procedures including enhanced sanitation practices, installed floor decals, plexiglass at check lanes and reduced customer capacity limits.
Kroger is also committed to providing financial assistance to its associates who are facing personal hardship due to COVID-19, including lack of access to childcare, through its Helping Hands fund. It is also offering paid time off for employees most affected by the virus.
The company will also continue to invest in benefits packages for its associates.
Last month, the company also offered a temporary pay raise to hourly employees who worked from March 29 through April 18.