Chapel Hill Whole Foods Had Coronavirus Case in Early March But Didn’t Disclose It, Employees Say: But You Can Check For Your Local Store

May 05, 2020

A family member was concerned that if I went to my local Whole Foods that I should be very cautious because unlike some local grocers in our area that are disclosing if front line workers at their stores have Covid-19, Whole Foods is not.

In North Carolina:

An Amazon Prime shopper who works at the Chapel Hill Whole Foods tested positive for COVID-19 soon after Governor Cooper announced the state’s first case on March 3, two Whole Foods employees who work at that location told the INDY this week.

One source said they were notified by management around March 13 that the unnamed employee had last worked on March 6.

Two weeks later, around March 27, the source says they were informed that another employee had tested positive for COVID-19 as well.

The sources spoke to the INDY on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

I took my family member advice and found a website that listed the purported Whole Foods sites were coronavirus cases are reported.

A grassroots online group called Whole Workers created a Google Doc that purports to list all of the coronavirus cases reported in Whole Foods stores across the United States. According to the document, which is based on news reports and employee social media posts, there have been 263 cases in 136 stores. At least two Whole Foods employees—one in Portland, Oregon, and one Swampscott, Massachusetts—have died from COVID-19. The document says that there have been five cases in North Carolina, including one in Greensboro, one in Charlotte, and three at the Chapel Hill location. (While the company’s spokesperson declined to say how many cases the store had, references to “both” and “either” suggest two.)

Here is the link from the grassroots online group Whole Workers:

Today, one of those Whole Foods stores in my area made the news as having the coronavirus after rumors spread that this particular store had the virus but the grassroot site already had that site listed beforehand.

According the Philadelphia Inquirer story:

Some had already heard it through the grapevine at the Philadelphia grocery store, where employees sent text messages to each other. One found out from a friend who didn’t even work there. That’s because someone else wrote about it on social media Thursday, hours before the store informed its full staff in an automated text message.


And when Whole Foods did alert workers, it was light on details. It didn’t identify the sick employee or the department where the employee worked, according to copies of the message obtained by The Inquirer.


“There’s no transparency between us and management, so we have no idea what’s going on,” said an employee, one of five who spoke to The Inquirer on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.

About melbrake

Mel Brake is an awarding winning Philadelphia based poet/singer/song writer, whose poetry has appeared in several media outlets and journals, including Philadelphia Poets 2007, 2008 and 2009, Mad Poets Review, Fox Chase Review, and The Philadelphia Bulletin. In addition, Long Island Sounds: An Anthology of Poetry, Writing Outside The Lines (WOSTL) Anthology, Word Riot Magazine, The New Verse News, Word Salad Magazine and Poetry Ink 2010 has published his works. Recently, his band, the Mel Brake Family Band performed a benefit concert at Cross Road Café in Delaware County. He is the Founder and Executive Director of MPW, a non-profit organization, focusing on using the arts to reach children in the Tri-state area. In addition, his first chapbook, “Obama Poetry Project” is available at:
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