An employee of Walmart, 1300 Desplaines Ave., has died of a COVID-19 infection. He was identified in a statement from Walmart only by the first name Francisco.

According to Forest Park officials, who spoke to Walmart representatives, the employee showed signs of illness at work on April 2. He went home and did not return to work again. He died at home on April 7.

A second employee, who has not been to work since March 31, has also tested positive.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian, Mayor Rory Hoskins and Steve Glinke, public health and safety director, who is overseeing infection control for the village during the COVID-19 pandemic, spoke to Walmart officials including the government affairs director, a regional manager, and a senior corporate representative on April 9.

During the call, Walmart representatives reviewed plans for notifying coworkers of the infection and death and discussed remediation plans for sanitizing the store as well as measures the stores is taking to prevent this from occurring again.

According to Gillian, it was “a productive call.”

“We’re confident with the actions Walmart has taken to date and with their go-forward plan,” said Gillian, who reported that Walmart has been asked to keep the village in the loop regarding infection control and any additional cases at the store.

“They are taking aggressive steps in regard to cleaning,” said Hoskins, who added that he appreciated corporate Walmart’s open communication with the village.

A statement sent to the Review from Anne Hatfield of Walmart corporate  communications said, “We are devastated to hear of Francisco’s passing and our hearts go out to his family. He will be greatly missed by his Forest Park Walmart family. There is nothing more important than for all of us to work together to get through this in the safest way possible. With the guidance of health care officials, we remain focused on taking measures for associates to protect themselves while supplying the community with essential items for their families.”

The statement also addressed sanitizing measures being taken.

“We have taken extensive steps across the country to protect our associates and customers. A third-party company is sanitizing key areas of the Forest Park store. This is in addition to the expanded deep-cleaning measures, sneeze guards at registers, social distancing decals on the floors and limiting the number of customers in the store at a given time. We’ll continue to take additional steps, such as screening associates, conducting temperature checks, and providing masks and gloves for associates.”

Additional information was also provided on Walmart’s Facebook page, including the following from the retail store: “We remain in communication with village officials and based on these measures we are able to continue to fully serve the community.”

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