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Brandon Hudgins works the main floor at Fleet Feet, a running-shoe store chain, for more than 30 hours a week. He chats with customers, measuring their feet and dashing in and out of the storage area to locate right-size shoes. Sometimes, clients drag their masks down while speaking. Others refuse to wear masks at all.
So he worries about COVID-19. And with good reason. Across the U.S., COVID hospitalizations and deaths are hitting record-shattering new heights. The nation saw 187,428 new cases Thursday alone. In California, COVID case counts are growing at the fastest rate yet.
Unlike in the early days of the pandemic, though, many stores nationwide aren’t closing. And regular coronavirus testing of workers remains patchy at best.
“I’ve asked, what if someone on staff gets symptoms? ‘You have to stay home,’” said Hudgins, 33, who works in High Point, N.C. But as an hourly employee, staying home means not getting paid, he said. “It’s stressful, especially without regular testing. Our store isn’t very big, and you’re in there all day long.”
To the store’s credit, Hudgins said the manager has instituted a locked-door policy, where employees determine which customers can enter. They …
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