Walmart Adjusts While Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) – With COVID-19 taking over the world, businesses have been adapting on the fly, and Walmart is no different.

(Photo by Chris Rossetti)

Most Walmart stores are now open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. In addition to limiting hours and adding a “Senior” (60 and older) shopping hour every Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. through April 28, the company is also adapting in many other ways.

According to its website (www.walmart.com), Walmart stores that offer grocery pickup service – including stores in Clarion, Cranberry, DuBois, Clearfield, Butler, Kittanning, Warren, Grove City, and Titusville – are offering no-contact pickup.

“You can order groceries from us online or in our app anytime,” the website said. “One of our associates will pick your order and bring it out to the curb when you arrive. This is a great way to maintain social distance.”

Walmart said that customers no longer have to sign for their order and an associate will put the order in the customer’s trunk or car.

Grocery pickup isn’t working quite as fast as in the past, as a quick try of the company’s app shows that delivery days are sometimes available 48 hours in advance but not 24 and depending on what time you access the app all spots have been taken.

A question from exploreJeffersonPA.com to local Walmarts about the increase in grocery pickup was directed to the corporate media relations department. Two messages to that department weren’t returned.

On the company’s website, it did mention that customers could encounter delays, cancellations, or longer wait times during pickup because millions of people are ordering online right now.

“We understand how frustrating that may be and assure you that we’re doing our best to serve as many customers as possible,” the website said. “We’ll keep you updated via email, text message, website, and mobile app to alert you of any potential delays or increased wait times at your store.”

For customer shopping inside the store, Walmart said it is doing everything it can to keep its stores clean and sanitized.

“Our associates are working hard to keep stores stocked and sanitized for you,” a message on the company’s website stated. “We’re dedicating associates in every store to clean high-traffic, high-touch areas, like checkouts and shopping carts, every day. We’re also installing sneeze guards in our pharmacy and register lanes, and floor decals at both the entrances and checkouts, to help you maintain proper social distancing.”

The company has also started taking steps to protect both its workers and customers.

In a media release on Tuesday, March 31, John Furner, President and CEO of Walmart U.S. and Kath McLay, President and CEO of Sam’s Club said the company has taken added steps to ensure its employees are healthy including temperature checks for employees and providing masks and gloves for employees who request them (as supplies are available).

“As our company and country continue to deal with the spread of COVID-19, we remain focused on the health and safety of our associates,” Furner and McLay said.

According to Furner and McLay, the company has decided to begin taking the temperatures of its associates as they report to work in stores, clubs, and facilities, as well as asking some basic health-screening questions.

“We are in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all locations, which could take up to three weeks,” Furner and McLay said. “Any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary. The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.”

According to Furner and McLay, many associates have already been taking their own temperatures at home and are being asked to continue that practice as we start doing it on-site.

“We’ll continue to ask associates to look out for other symptoms of the virus (coughing, feeling achy, difficulty breathing) and never come to work when they don’t feel well,” Furner and McLay said. “Our COVID-19 emergency leave policy allows associates to stay home if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms, concerns, illness or are quarantined – knowing that their jobs will be protected.”

While acknowledging that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health officials do not recommend masks or gloves for healthy people who don’t ordinarily use them for their jobs, Furner and McLay said Walmart will make them available – as supplies permit – for associates who want to wear them.

“The masks will arrive in one to two weeks,” Furner and McLay said. “They will be high-quality masks, but not N95 respirators – which should be reserved for at-risk healthcare workers.

“We encourage anyone who would like to wear a mask or gloves at work to ask their supervisor for them while keeping in mind that it is still possible to spread germs while wearing them.”

LIMITS TO SOME ITEMS

Walmart is also limiting the number of certain items customers can buy including, but not limited, to toilet paper and other paper products.

“To help serve as many members of the community as possible, we respectfully ask you to limit your purchase to one per item,” a sign on the toilet paper shelf at the Clarion Walmart last week read.

Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media.

Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media.

Despite those requests, many shelves in toilet paper aisle remain empty most of the time.

Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media

Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media

In addition, on the company’s app and website, items that are considered to be in low quantity when shopping on the company’s app or website are also limited.

A request for comment on which specific items are being limited and how those decisions are being made to Walmart’s corporate media relations department weren’t returned.

PHARMACY CHANGES

With the modified hours and the understanding that sick people need medicine, Walmart has made some changes within its pharmacies.

According to the company’s website, most pharmacies are open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. The pharmacy will also be open for “Senior” shopping on Tuesdays through April 28 from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

“For seniors and those at high-risk for COVID-19, we have a variety of ways to serve you, including no-contact curbside pickup and mail delivery,” the company’s website said. “Call your pharmacy to see which options are available.”

Drive-thru service is also available at select Walmart, although a quick look at the company’s website only shows that available regionally at the one in Warren.

Walmart said a customer who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 won’t need to visit a store for medicine.

“Simply contact your pharmacy, and we’ll help find a way to help you get your medications,” the company’s website said.

Walmart also said it is working on behalf of its customers with insurance companies to identify additional options that may be available for at this time (like filling more than a month of a prescription at once).

VISION CENTERS ALSO OPEN

Walmart has also kept its Vision Center open with times varying by stores.

In Clarion, Cranberry, Punxsutawney, and Kittanning, the Vision Center is listed on the company’s website as being open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday and from Noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. However, a store associate at the Clarion store told exploreJeffersonPA.com the hours for the Vision Center in Clarion are current Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

In DuBois, the hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday, and in Butler, the hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

In Warren, the Vision Center is listed as being open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday, and Noon to 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

The hours in Clearfield are a bit more restrictive with the Vision Center being open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every day of the week but Tuesday. On Tuesdays, it is open from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Titusville and Grove City do not have a Vision Center, according to the company’s website.

“Lost or broke your glasses? Run out of contacts? We’re here to serve emergency or essential needs, as well as existing order pickups,” Walmart’s website said. “Please note that we won’t be able to accept new orders for non-emergency or non-essential needs until further notice, in order to keep you and our associates safe.”


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