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Detroit investigating Whole Foods COVID-19 outbreak


The city of Detroit's health department is investigating a large COVID-19 outbreak at the Whole Foods store.

Twenty-three of the store's 196 workers have tested positive so far.

Denise Fair is Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer. She calls the outbreak "outrageous," and says it raises questions about Whole Foods' internal practices.

"That's a 10% infection rate, which is five times higher than the rest of the city," says Fair. "And we have worked so hard in the city of Detroit to keep the numbers low, and I'm just really really concerned about Whole Foods putting Detroiters' health at risk."

Fair says it's not known yet if any of the infections are from one of the new variants that are more easily spread. Test results have been sent to the state MDHHS lab to determine that.

She adds that grocery store workers in the city have been eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine for the past three weeks.

"I urge every grocery store worker, take this seriously, so this doesn't happen to you," she says.

Whole Foods Market said in a statement it is “diligently following all guidance from local health and food safety authorities.”

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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