Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Tuba City Bashas’, Page stores see COVID cases

Special to the Times | Krista Allen
A hospital staffer walks on East Cedar Avenue outside Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation last month. TCRHCC has tested 205 people since March 12, with 98 testing positive.


Bashas’ Diné Market in Tuba City reopened for business this morning after two confirmed COVID-19 cases among its employees. The store closed yesterday afternoon for disinfection.

“We did have two confirmed COVID-19 cases in our Tuba City location,” said Ashley Shick, spokeswoman for Bashas’. “We did a voluntary and temporary shutdown of the store yesterday afternoon and brought in a third-party company to do a thorough, wall-to-wall disinfection protocol following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Shick said the cases were of Bashas’ Diné Market’s “internal members,” meaning Bashas’ current employees.

“There was no identified threat to customers,” Shick said. “If anyone, at any time, is concerned that they have had close contact with someone who is confirmed positive case, they should reach out to their doctor for next steps.”

Bashas’ Diné Market reopened its doors at 7 a.m.

Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation sees an average of nine to 11 COVID-positive patients in the emergency room every day, said Lynette Bonar, CEO at TCRHCC.

Five patients are admitted daily to the ICU with confirmed infection with the coronavirus. Twelve to 16 patients are admitted to the respiratory care unit. These numbers are not necessarily the same patients from the ER, said Bonar.

And two COVID patients are sent daily to either Flagstaff Medical Center or to a hospital in Phoenix.

TCRHCC, along with TCRHCC clinics Sacred Peaks Health Center in Flagstaff and LeChee Health Facility in LeChee, Arizona, has tested 205 people for the coronavirus since March 12. A total of 98 tested positive and 84 tested negative. Eighteen people with presumptive COVID-19 are current inpatients at TCRHCC (as of April 10), and 15 were stabilized and discharged home.

“On a positive note, patients are recovering,” Bonar told the Navajo Times. “We are still looking on the stats on this.”

Coconino has a total of 206 COVID-positive cases as of Thursday, according to the county Health and Human Services. There are 41 in the Flagstaff area, 125 in the tribal communities (Havasupai, Navajo, Hualapai, Hopi, and San Juan Southern Paiute). In Page, there are 38 and two in other areas.

Of the 38 cases, fewer than 10 are from Walmart Supercenter on Haul Road, according to local sources who know people who work there.

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“While I’m unable to confirm or provide any additional details … for privacy concerns, I do want to share that it would be inaccurate to report that there are 12 cases at the store,” said Phillip Keene, spokesman for Walmart, adding that the store does not share personal health information about any associate.

A request went unanswered when a department manager was asked for additional information.

Keene also pointed out that the company is focused on serving customers during this unprecedented time.

“As we’ve announced before, we have enacted cleaning and sanitizing protocols with guidance from the CDC and Walmart’s chief medical officer,” Keene said, “and we will continue taking any and all measures necessary to ensure the well-being of our associates and customers.”

Walmart announced last week an expansion of associate health screenings and temperature checks prior to them beginning their shifts. If an associate has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, or answers “yes” to a screening questionnaire, they will be asked to return home until symptoms subside or they go through necessary COVID-19 protocols.

“We also announced that associates will be provided masks and gloves upon request,” Keene said. “Last week, we began installing plexiglass barriers (sneeze guards) at our pharmacy lanes … and will install these guards at the regular Walmart registers during the next three weeks. This is intended to help bring peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to keep our people and our stores safe.”

Safeway at 650 Elm St. also recently installed plexiglass barriers at all registers, excluding the in-store Starbucks.

Page Safeway, local sources say, had at least one death and has two employees who are sick. The associate who died was found in their bedroom unresponsive on March 19.

“Like many of our neighbors in Page, COVID-19 has touched our own Safeway family with confirmed diagnoses among our associates,” said Nancy Keane, spokeswoman for both Safeway and Albertsons stores. “The last day of work was March 31 for any positive-confirmed COVID associate at that store.”

Keane said when a Safeway associate at one of the stores is confirmed to have COVID-19, a nurse from the company’s crisis response center contacts the associate to ensure they are seeking appropriate medical care and to initiate a close contacts investigation. Following that investigation, the crisis response center may recommend that additional members of the store team self-quarantine.

“Based on when the infected person became symptomatic and when they were last in our store, we activate specific enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols throughout the store,” Keane said. “Associates diagnosed with COVID-19 receive two weeks of replacement pay while they are unable to work. Associates who are asked to self-quarantine will also receive up to 14 days of quarantine pay.”

Some Page Safeway employees’ hours were cut to 20 due to no sales but they were given a $2 hourly raise to continue working during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source familiar with the situation.

“Not worth our lives,” said one employee, who did not want to be named.

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits in Page also suspended production on March 20 due to a positive COVID-19 case.

“GYCB was made aware on March 19 that the spouse of one of its employees has tested positive for COVID-19,” a notice to the public reads. “No GYCB employee is infected with the virus.”

The Gary Yamamoto facility in Page was closed for two weeks and resumed production on Monday.

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