Denver King Soopers worker dies of COVID-19; same store has had 11 cases, officials say

King Soopers worker COVID-19 Randy Narvaez
Posted at 10:23 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 08:59:46-04

DENVER — A second King Soopers worker has died of COVID-19, and his Denver store has had 11 cases of the virus among employees, union and store officials said Monday.

Randy Narvaez had worked at the King Soopers grocery store off 9th Avenue in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood for more than 30 years, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 7.

The union said "approximately 12 cases" of COVID-19 had been identified among employees at the store, and King Soopers, in a statement, said 11 employees have tested positive.

Union president Kim Cordova on Monday called on King Soopers' owner, Kroger, to shut down the Capitol Hill store to clean and disinfect the building and test every employee for coronavirus.

King Soopers said all employees at the store will be tested, even those who are asymptomatic, and that the store was sanitized on Sunday night.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of our King Soopers family member who worked at the Capitol Hill store in Denver," King Soopers said in a statement. "The associate had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 in early May. Our associates are part of our family and we, along with their families are mourning this loss deeply. Additionally, we are in communication with our associates that have tested positive to assist in their needs."

Cordova also called on Kroger to require facemasks for customers, limit the number of shoppers in a store at one time, enforce social distancing and maintain workers' "Hero Pay" of an additional $2 per hour.

"For more than two months, grocery workers like Mr. Narvaez have put their lives at risk to serve their communities," Cordova wrote in a news release.

Denver residents are required to wear masks in certain public settings, including grocery stores, and grocery store workers have been required by the state to wear face masks during the COVID-19 crisis.

King Soopers on Monday said the company has taken several other measures to prevent coronavirus, including:

  • Providing gloves and face coverings for every associate, every shift
  • Plexiglass shields installed at checkout stands
  • Educational floor decals to ensure physical distancing
  • Handwashing and cleaning high-touch areas every 30 minutes
  • Limiting store capacity to 50% of normal (1 person for every 120 square feet of store space)
  • Increased store sanitation processes when restocking
  • Mandatory temperature and symptom checks for associates prior to starting their shifts
  • Communication with all employees to review, confirm and reinforce safety and social distancing best practices