Seated in the customer service office Monday at the Brookshire’s grocery store, Jordan Gomez said he prays for the day when normal life can resume.
Gomez is the director of the Brownwood grocery store, where restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 govern the actions of the store’s staff and customers.
“I miss shaking hands,” Gomez said. “It’s kind of a part of our history, shaking hands … I miss that already.”
Gomez and another Brookshire’s representative — Brian Johnson of Tyler, who is senior vice president, division manager — spoke to the Bulletin about the store’s actions following the announcement Thursday that a Brookshire’s employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee, a woman in her 40s, worked in the deli and bakery departments, a City of Brownwood press release stated.
“She is recovering well,” Johnson said.
The employee was immediately sent home from work when she reported she was not feeling well, Johnson said. He said she did not work any more at the store while the COVID-19 test was pending.
When the positive result was report Thursday, the store was closed for a deep cleaning by a professional cleaning company, Johnson said. The store reopened Friday morning.
Other employees who had contact with he woman before she was sent home were quarantined, and none of those employees are ill, Johnson said.
“The safety of our employees and customers is our number one concern at all times,” Johnson said by phone. “Any time one of our employees feels ill, they are sent home.”
Johnson described other steps Brookshire’s stores are taking:
• Stores are maintaining the six-foot social distancing guidelines.
• The company has recently enacted a “40 percent” rule, meaning stores will never have more than 40 percent of their maximum capacity of customers.
• Employees’ temperatures are taken before they begin work, and anyone with a temperature that exceeds 99.5 degrees is sent home.
• Employees are required to wash their hands for 20 seconds at a time through the day.
• Deep cleaning at stores is performed weekly.
• A “social monitor” walks the aisles to encourage customers to maintain social distancing. “We don’t want to come across as militant,” Johnson stressed. “We’re not going to go through and confront people.”
• Curbside pickup is available.
• When possible, every other register is used for customer check-out.
In the Brownwood store’s customer service office, Gomez made similar comments. Brookshire’s takes the “utmost” care of employees and customers, he said.
“The company was very quick to start setting parameters and guidelines to social distance,” Gomez said. “We were told no shaking hands, no hugging, no fist-bumping.”
Gomez said two social monitors were in the store that afternoon. “We’re doing our very best to remain as courteous as possible while complying with CDC guidelines,” Gomez said.
Gomez has been director of the Brownwood store for less than two months. He previously was director of the Brookshire’s store in Anson.
“Everyone’s so nice,” Gomez said of his time in Brownwood.
Customers in the COVID-19 era “have been very good to us, saying ‘thank you’ and saying how much our service to them means,” Gomez said. “That makes me proud every day, to get up, put the name badge on and have another day of business.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Brown County has had six confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two have recovered. The Brookshire’s employee was the county’s fourth case.
“If you visited the deli or bakery at Brookshire’s on March 28, 29 or 30, you should self-isolate and monitor your symptoms for 14 days from the date of your visit,” the city said in a press release. For customers who visited the store on any of those three days but did not visit the deli or bakery departments, “we recommend you closely monitor your symptoms for 14 days from the date of your visit,” the press release stated.