Walmart told its home office employees Friday to begin working remotely through at least April 3. The retailer said this will pertain to all U.S. offices and become effective on March 16. Walmart said it made this decision with guidance from its chief medical officer as well as state and local health officials.
While the company’s offices will remain open, other services such as printing and the food court will be closed temporarily. Walmart did not prohibit employees from coming to the office, but asked those who do to practice social distance and avoid large gatherings given COVID-19 can be spread by close contact.
“As always, our purpose is to support our associates in our stores, clubs and supply chain, and we need to be healthy to do so. While our ways of working at the office will change in this period, that focus on our associates will not. Our stores and clubs are open and providing a vital service to our communities at this unprecedented time. We will be there for them, and you’ll continue to see our leaders in stores, clubs and distribution centers across the country,” M Walmart CEO Doug McMillon noted in the internal memo. “We know this is a challenging time, and it will require all of us to be patient and flexible and to support one another.”
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas rose from six to nine between Thursday and Friday, with one patient not having a link to possible exposure while outside the state, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday (March 13).
As of early Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 41 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 (coronavirus), with 1,629 confirmed cases. The ongoing pandemic outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States.
McMillon also on Friday met with President Donald Trump and other White House officials and business retail and pharmacy executives to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Walmart will be one of the retailers mentioned by Trump that will make some of its parking lots available for coronavirus drive-thru testing and other preventative measures.
McMillon was asked when stores would be fully in-stock for items like hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol and disinfectant products. He said Walmart and all retailers are working with suppliers to ensure shelves are replenished quickly. He said some products like hand sanitizers may remain in short supply relative to demand in the short term.