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Grocers grapple with rising COVID-19 cases as second wave sweeps country

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“Our employees are not as infected as the general population,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of cases in the workplace. Typically, it’s community spread … It’s very rarely a work-related transmission.”

Metro would not divulge the exact rate of infection among its employees, or the percentage of employees who contracted the virus at work, rather than in the community.

“At the end of the day, we see the numbers. We’re, of course, preoccupied by that,” Bacon said. “We’ve been managing this very proactively and even aggressively.”

The two biggest grocers, Loblaw and Empire, only post the number of cases reported over the past 15 days.

Loblaw — the country’s largest grocer with roughly 200,000 employees and 2,500 stores, including 1,300 Shoppers Drug Marts — has reported at least 174 cases in the past 15 days, according to a count of the case reports conducted by the Financial Post.

The count is not exact, however, since Loblaw only reports “multiple” cases in the event that five or more staff at a store test positive. For its tally, the Post counted two reported instances of “multiple” cases as five cases each.

Loblaw would not provide case counts from earlier in January, or for previous months, but company spokesperson Catherine Thomas said employee infections have increased “with the second wave throughout the fall and have seen a dramatic decrease over the last three weeks” after provinces brought in heightened restrictions.

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