Food distribution workers, which includes store clerks and stockers, have been labeled “Emergency Tier 2” workers

By Maria Pasquini
March 19, 2020 05:18 PM

Minnesota has recognized all food distribution employees as “emergency workers” in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Over the weekend, the state’s Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order that gave “emergency workers” access to state-provided childcare. The list of emergency workers, who are all considered to play a “critical” part in the state’s response to the outbreak, includes healthcare providers, firefighters and law enforcement personnel.

Walz has also classified food distribution workers — which includes store clerks, stockers, and deli staff — as “Emergency Tier 2” workers, and has also asked that the state makes “every effort” to provide childcare to them.

“Beyond the emergency workers listed in the Governor’s Executive Order, there are other critical workers that are absolutely necessary for districts to consider,” the order reads. “Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children of workers in the areas below, if they are able to do so while adhering to the Minnesota Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines.”

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On Wednesday, the Minnesota Grocery Association publicly thanked Walz “for supporting our industry during this challenging time.”

As the amount of confirmed cases in the United States surpassed 10,000 on Thursday, there have been at least 77 cases in Minnesota, with zero deaths, according to The New York Times.

Vermont has also indicated that they will take similar steps.

After Gov. Phil Scott announced the closure of all schools, he issued a directive that encouraged “continued operation exclusively where needed to provide childcare services for workers who are essential to Vermont’s ongoing effort in community mitigation of COVID-19.”

“Teachers, childcare providers and school support staff are going to be as critical to our response as our doctors, nurses and healthcare support staff,” he said in a press release. “That’s why, even as we ask the public to step back to help slow the spread of this virus, we are asking others, including our educators and child care providers, to step in and provide a critical service so those who are on the frontlines of our response can continue to care for the sick, protect the public and manage this evolving challenge. I am incredibly proud of the selflessness of these public servants at this time of need.”

Although the directive did not specifically mention food workers, at a press conference on Wednesday, public safety commissioner Michael Schirling said food distribution and grocery store workers are considered essential and are expected to be added to their list, according to CNN Business.

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As of Thursday, there have been at least 11,274 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 157 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The majority of the cases are in New York, Washington state, California and New Jersey.

The CDC says the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing, and staying home at signs of illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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