CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Walmart Inc. announced Friday that workers in areas with high coronavirus infections rates will have to wear face masks inside stores and company facilities.
The announcement follows guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending people — including fully vaccinated individuals — wear masks in public indoor settings in areas with substantial or high transmission.
Walmart is also encouraging employees to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, noting Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies offer vaccine doses for free. The company has been paying associates $75 to get vaccinated, but it is now doubling the amount to $150.
“Associates who already received the $75 incentive will receive $75 more on their Aug. 19 paychecks,” the company said in a press release. “This incentive program will remain in place until Oct. 4, 2021.”
Employees are also being offered three days of paid leave for any adverse reactions to the vaccines.
“As a country, vaccination options have been available for months, but, unfortunately, because so many people have chosen not to receive it, we’ve left ourselves more vulnerable to variants,” Walmart said. “The Delta variant is a mutation of the original COVID-19 virus and is much more aggressive and transmissible. It is important that necessary steps are taken to keep ourselves and our communities safe.”
Market, regional and division associates who work in multiple facilities as well as campus office associations will be required to be vaccinated by Oct. 4.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on Friday reported 2,057 active coronavirus cases, including 100 cases of the delta variant.