COMMENTARY: Walmart Hypocritical When It Comes To Face Masks

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Many companies within the United States have recently required their employees and customers to wear a face mask because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such well known companies as Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Best Buy and Home Depot now require a face mask.1 Walmart recently mandated that all their shoppers wear a “face covering” on July 20.2 Unfortunately, Walmart is not requiring its subcontracted employees, who work for either Spark or Doordash, to wear a face mask when making grocery deliveries.

According to Walmart’s corporate website, both Dacona Smith, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Walmart (U.S.) and Lance de la Rosa, the COO of Sam’s Club both stated, “our focus and priority has been and continues to be on the health and safety of our associates, members and customers [my emphasis].”3 Unfortunately, Walmart’s subcontracted employees, who deliver groceries to homes, unlike their store employees appear to be exempt from this policy. I recently had Walmart deliver some groceries to my apartment on the morning of July 24, and the delivery person was not wearing a face mask despite COVID-19 being airborne.4 This especially alarmed me because my U.S. postal carrier contracted COVID-19 three weeks ago, and my mailbox is within three feet of my building’s front door.

Later that afternoon a local Walmart manager told me that all grocery delivery employees are subcontracted through two companies: Spark or Doordash. The manager explained that his Walmart store primarily uses Spark, and only uses Doordash as a secondary backup. So he instructed me to telephone Spark’s customer service, and provided me with a toll free number including one for Doordash. When I telephoned Spark’s customer service a representative immediately referred me to a local Walmart store despite a Walmart manager telling me five minutes earlier to telephone Spark! Obtaining any meaningful information in regard to Spark’s face mask policy was essentially fruitless and a waste of time. When I next telephoned Doordash’s customer service after unsuccessfully doing a Google search about their face mask policy, I could not get any helpful information despite being insistent. When I asked about the location of Doordash’s corporate headquarters in order to escalate my complaint the agent replied, “I do not know.” A simple Google search would have revealed San Francisco, California. (I later tried to find Doordash’s corporate telephone number on their website, and concluded that it must be some type of trade secret.) When I asked about the agent’s own location, she replied, “in a facility.”  When I finally asked to speak to her supervisor she repeatedly evaded the question to my frustration and anoyment although I could distinctly hear a faint second voice in the background. Talking to Doordash’s customer service was no more helpful than talking to Spark’s. So finally I telephoned Walmart’s online grocery-delivery customer service in Bentonville, Arkansas, and was again referred to either Spark or Doordash! Needless to say I had a very bad Walmart customer experience.

Walmart is extremely hypocritical in requiring their store employees and customers to wear a face mask, but has no face mask policy in regard to their subcontracted employees, who work for either Spark or Doordash. There is no question that COVID-19 is airborne and any employee, who is either asymptomatic or presymptomatic, can easily spread the virus. As Walmart has stated on its own website, “according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t [sic] have symptoms and don’t [sic] know they are infected, it’s [sic] critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and [to] social distance.”5 I presently live in an apartment building which shares a foyer and stairwell with four other apartments. All five apartments within my building share one common outside door. In this enclosed public space there is no cross ventilation whatsoever from any open windows or doors.

In the interest of public health and safety, Walmart’s subcontracted employees working for either Spark or Doordash in Virginia also need to comply with Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Number 63 issued on May 29. It states that “a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC” must be worn in an “indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other.”6 That certainly describes an enclosed public space such as a foyer or stairwell inside a building.

Hopefully, Walmart will soon require all its subcontracted employees, who work for either Spark or Doordash, to wear a face mask in order to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.6

Robert Maronic – Roanoke

Notes

1

Friedman, Gillian. “McDonald’s Joins Walmart and Dozens of Other Chains with Mask Mandate.” The New York Times. 24 July 2020. Web. 30 July 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/article/whichstoresrequiremasks.html. Archived at  https://perma.cc/GBM4C36C.

2

Smith, Dacona and Lance de la Rosa. “A Simple Step to Help Keep You Safe: Walmart and Sam’s Club Require Shoppers to Wear Face Coverings.” Walmart (corporate). 15 July 2020. Web. 30 July 2020.  https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/07/15/asimplesteptohelpkeepyousafewalmartandsamsclubrequireshopperstowearfacecoverings. Archived at https://perma.cc/6LGGJFKY.

3

Ibid.

4

Mandavilli, Apoorva. “239 Experts with One Big Claim: The Coronavirus is Airborne.” The New York Times. 4 July 2020. Updated 7 July 2020. Web. 30 July 2020.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/04/health/239expertswithonebigclaimthecoronavirusisairborne.html. Archived at https://perma.cc/RFZ98BS7.

5

Smith, Dacona and Lance de la Rosa. “A Simple Step to Help Keep You Safe: Walmart and Sam’s Club Require Shoppers to Wear Face Coverings.” Walmart (corporate). 15 July 2020. Web. 30 July 2020.  https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/07/15/asimplesteptohelpkeepyousafewalmartandsamsclubrequireshopperstowearfacecoverings. Archived at https://perma.cc/6LGGJFKY.

6

Northam, Governor Ralph S. Executive Order Number 63. Richmond, VA. 29 May 2020. Web. 30 July 2020. Sec. A6.

https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executiveactions/EO63andOrderOfPublicHealthEmergencyFiveRequirementToWearFaceCoveringWhileInsideBuildings.pdf. Archived at https://perma.cc/6TEZXXFU. (This file may not display on an Android smartphone.)