Tag Archives: Raley’s Benicia

Latest on Benicia Raley’s COVID-19 violations, store confirms at least one infected employee

[Editor: Note later correction,  highlighted in paragraph 12 below.  – R.S.]

Benicia Raley’s Supermarkets confirms COVID-19 case after holding maskless pot luck

Vallejo Times Herald, By Katy St. Clair, January 4, 2021
Raley’s Benicia holiday party, maskless employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

A memo sent to Raley’s Supermarkets staff at the Benicia branch on Sunday confirms that an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The store held an on-site pot luck holiday party on Dec. 24 in which several employees were pictured without masks.

“This is notice that an individual who was present at Raley’s 343 at 890 Southampton Rd., Benicia, CA, has tested positive for COVID-19,” the memo states. “The individual was last at the worksite on 12/24/20 and is currently self-isolating.”

The store received criticism after after pictures were posted to social media of the holiday pot luck which showed attendees sitting closely at tables without wearing masks.

An employee who spoke to the Times-Herald on condition of anonymity said that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 is “very ill” and was present at the event.

In the same memo, Raley’s Supermarkets said that it notified affected team members and carried out contact tracing for anyone who had been within 6 feet of the individual for longer than 15 minutes at a time. The store also said it would be contacting any vendors that had contact with the individual. In addition, the memo states that the store “performed necessary cleaning and disinfecting of the work areas and surfaces along the individual’s path of travel.”

Chelsea Minor, a spokesperson for Raley’s Supermarkets, said that the company acknowledges that the store did not follow procedure when it allowed a maskless potluck.

“We have taken action and coached appropriately,” she said.

A new California law went into effect on Jan. 1 that requires businesses to report to the county public health department if three or more people are diagnosed with COVID-19 within a 14-day period. It also requires employers to notify employees within one day of discovering that an employee has tested positive.

An employee told the Times-Herald on Dec. 31 that the COVID-19-infected employee had been at the holiday party and had tested positive several days before the store notified staff.

“It’s hard to believe that none of the managers knew what I knew,” the individual said.

According to the text of the law, AB 685, businesses  were not legally obligated to notify staff or the public of COVID-19 infections prior to this year.  The bill’s text states, “Reporting among workplaces in 2020 lacked “clarity as to an employer’s reporting requirements, including their own workforce. This deficiency has led to workers and members of the public living in fear for their own safety, unaware of where outbreaks may already be occurring.”

Raley’s Benicia holiday party, employees not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

The Raley’s employee alleges that a manager spoke to them in confidence about at least 20 people at the Benicia Raley’s Supermarkets branch being diagnosed with COVID-19 since March of 2019.

Though Raley’s stated that people near the affected person were being isolated, an employee told the Times-Herald that two people who were seated near the infected person in the pot luck pictures remained on the job on Monday. It is not known how long those employees were exposed.

“They all sat back there for a long time,” said the employee. “It was over 15 minutes for sure. Some spent their whole lunch hour back there.”

Minor said that Raley’s has completed its initial screening process to see who had been exposed to the employee but that the process is ongoing.

“We are acting on that information that we have,” she said. “(Employees) should talk to their team leader and they should report it. And if they are in a predicament and feel like they could be exposed, they should report it.”

Word about the pot luck and reports of COVID-19 infections have prompted both the City of Benicia and Solano Public Health to investigate the store.

Calls to the public information officers at the public health department and county were not returned.

Times-Herald coverage of COVID violation at Raley’s Benicia

Maskless holiday party at Benicia Raley’s draws concern

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Katy St. Clair, December 31, 2020
Raley’s Benicia holiday party, maskless employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

It began with a social media post of various employees of a Raley’s store in Benicia, smiling for pictures around tables at a potluck holiday party on Christmas Eve — many not wearing masks.

The usual comments began — people horrified that a store would ignore both social distancing and masks, especially while eating. Then “anti-maskers” chimed in about how the virus is overblown. Most importantly, rumors began to spread that several employees at the Benicia store have been out sick.

One employee of Raley’s told the Times-Herald that at least one person at the potluck has contracted COVID-19.

“I was told by a manager in confidence that there have been 21 people total who have gotten COVID-19 who work here,” said the employee. “They are trying to keep it a secret.”

The employee spoke to the Times-Herald on condition of anonymity.

City of Benicia officials say they were told by store management that the store was “currently are not aware of any cases.”

Richard Rodriguez, team leader and general manager at the Benicia Raley’s, denies that 20 employees have been sick with COVID-19.

“No,” he laughed, “that’s not true not at all,” but he said that all further questions should be directed to Ashley Campas at the corporate office, who was not available for comment.

The city, meanwhile, released a statement about the store:

“It has been brought to our attention … that word is spreading on social media of a large number of employees at Raley’s testing positive for COVID-19 … City staff have contacted management and they have indicated that they currently are not aware of any positive cases, although a potluck was held over the holidays.”

“It’s a lie. It’s just a lie,” said the employee. “And that’s what’s concerning me. With everybody that is sick now — the first COVID case here was back in March, so you have to understand that this has been going on for a long time.”

“The city is aware of the party that was held at Raley’s and the concern it has generated,” Mayor Steve Young told the Times-Herald. “We are waiting for confirmation as to whether there are, in fact, employees who have tested positive. Our first concern remains the health and safety of the community as well as the workers.”

The Benicia Independent says that the Solano County Public Health department is investigating, something the Times-Herald has yet to be able to corroborate. But photos show that the store has gone against state regulations for essential workers, with employees at the potluck not wearing protective face coverings and gloves. The State of California requires that all employees wear face masks or coverings at all times.

Raley’s Benicia holiday party, masked employees, not socially distanced (Source: Raley’s Benicia Facebook, December 24, 2020 – posted here by the Benicia Independent, not Vallejo Times-Herald)

As for the denial from store general manager Rodriguez, the employee was miffed that their manager would laugh at the question.

“It hurts my heart that the management thinks this is funny or is a joke,” they said, adding that many there feel that they have to live with the risks involved with working there because they need the job. According to the source, they aren’t given gloves by the store and there is no organization around getting masks or other precautionary things.

“The health department came in yesterday so guess what? I got my temperature taken today and we suddenly have hand sanitizer.”

“In the midst of this dangerous surge of the virus, it is so important that every business and citizen respects and follows the safety protocols put in place for our protection,” Young said.

City of Benicia comment on reports of COVID violations and outbreak at Raley’s

Nextdoor / City of Benicia, by Communications, Office of Economic Development, Teri Davena, City of Benicia, December 30, 2020

Social Media Posts on COVID Cases in Employees of Local Grocery Store.

It has been brought to the attention of the City of Benicia that word is spreading on social media of a large number of employees at Raley’s testing positive for COVID-19.

Additionally, we understand through social media that their staff may have participated in an event that is in conflict with current state guidance.

City staff have contacted management and they have indicated that they currently are not aware of any positive cases, although a potluck was held over the holidays.

City staff is working with Solano County Public Health officials on this concern and will advise if this becomes a public health issue.

As a reminder, we continue to see cases surging throughout the state and urge members of our community to follow current orders and guidance. This includes frequent hand washing, wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, limiting outings to essential activities and not gathering.

Additional information on current guidance in Solano County is available at solanocounty.com/depts/ph/coronavirus.asp

Questions or comments on this post may be addressed to Fire Chief Josh Chadwick at jchadwick@ci.benicia.ca.us.

Raley’s Benicia under investigation for COVID-19 violations

By Roger Straw, December 30, 2020
Raley’s in Benicia, California

Raley’s facebook page (below) confirms a report that is circulating on social media and among Benicia residents that a serious violation of State and local COVID-19 orders occurred at Raley’s recently.

The images on Raley’s facebook page document a December 24 holiday party of more than two dozen employees, gathered at first in close proximity masked, and then sitting without masks at tables to eat.  [Images preserved here on Google Drive]

City of Benicia officials confirm that they learned of the alleged violation from a private posting on social media, and notified Solano County Health Department.  The Health Department had not been aware, and has initiated an investigation.

The City of Benicia plans to issue a public statement once the allegations are substantiated.  Meanwhile, no hard facts or data has been gathered as to Raley’s employees testing positive, and if so, what exposure and potential spread would require quarantining.  City staff has reached out to Raley’s management for a response.

Stay tuned for more information.  Meanwhile, you might want to think about taking extra precautions if and when you choose to shop at Raley’s.

 

Raley’s Benicia held a large group indoors gathering on Dec. 24, no social distancing, food that required no masks while…

Posted by Benicia Independent on Wednesday, December 30, 2020