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H-E-B Discloses Employee COVID Cases, Reimposes Mask Rule Amid San Antonio Surge

David Martin Davies
Texas Public Radio

H-E-B continues to adapt in the age of COVID-19 as cases surge in the San Antonio area and across Texas. What is the grocer doing now to keep the community fed and healthy and its workers safe?

More than 30 H-E-B employees working in San Antonio stores have tested positive for coronavirus. The chain has regularly updated the public about these cases including locations and dates for each positive employees' last shift. Target and Walmart have not made similar disclosures.

How is H-E-B responding to these infections? What is the protocol when a worker tests positive? 

Earlier this month, the grocery chain announced it would no longer require customers to wear masks while shopping. More than 27,000 people signed an online petition asking that masks again be made mandatory.

After Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced a face mask mandate for area businesses last week, the regional grocery chain will again require customers over the age of 10 to wear a facial covering to limit the virus' transmission. 

Why did H-E-B decide to lift its inital mask requirement? How hard is the rule to enforce with customers? What other health and safety measures are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in stores?

H-E-B has also updated product purchasing limits. Purchase limits for some items have been removed, as panic buying has largely subsided, but remain in place for products that are still in high demand such as disinfectant sprays and wipes, hand sanitizer and hand soap.

The number of positive coronavirus cases continues to increase dramatically as Texas leadership gives the green light for more reopening. In early pandemic days, it took Bexar County more than a month to reach 1,000 cases. It accumulated that amountin just five daysfrom June 12-17.

How could this surge affect H-E-B operations and employees? Is there a scenario in which stores would return to strict product limits and adjusted hours? How will the Texas grocer handle a second wave?

Guest: Dya Campos, director of public and governmental affairs for H-E-B San Antonio

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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, June 23.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dallas Williams is a Producer for The Source at Texas Public Radio. With a degree in Mass Communication — Broadcast Media, Dallas brings a unique perspective and a passion to producing a live, call-talk show.