Five Confirmed Berkeley Whole Foods COVID Cases, Workers Question Response

Zack Haber
5 min readJul 16, 2020
Whole Foods at 3000 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on July 15 2020, photo by Zack Haber

Workers at Berkeley’s Whole Foods grocery store on Telegraph Avenue have expressed concerns for their safety and are claiming inadequate clean-up and dissemination of information related to COVID. Five workers at the store have tested positive for the virus since June 2.

All workers quoted in this article requested to speak under pseudonyms, as they said they fear retaliation from Whole Foods that could put their employment at risk. Since a fifth case was reported just before this story went to press, quotes and comments reflect on just the first four cases.

“Personally I don’t feel safe,” said Kendal Galkins, a worker at the location who claims the store was cleaned after she was informed of the first COVID case, but was not cleaned after the second, third, and fourth cases.

Galkins said that store team leader Kelly Fox told staff that clean-up after the second, third and forth confirmed cases was unnecessary because, in each case, by the time Whole Foods could confirm the workers tested positive for COVID, the infected workers had been absent for long enough that any virus that could have been present in the store would have died off.

When I questioned Fox, she said she would not comment on this story and referred all inquiries to the Whole Foods media team.

Galkins said although Whole Foods maintenance cleaned up at night after the first case, she views that clean-up as insufficient since it was done by Whole Foods staff.

“It’s different if you have hired somebody like a third [party] who has a job to clean up especially for COVID,” said Galkins.

A Whole Foods spokesperson, Rachel Malish, said a third party cleaning service did come in after the first confirmed case, countering Galkins’s claim, but neglected to mention the name of the third party cleaner when directly asked and did not comment on clean-up efforts after the other confirmed cases.

“That is unbelievable,” said Galkins. “There have been four cases and only one store clean-up.”

Randy Silks said Fox had told workers they could expect a multi-day cleaning process if a worker tested positive that would involve the store closing, but…