It doesn’t take too many COVID cases to handcuff a small-town grocery store.
Three employees at Erickson’s Thriftway in Madras tested positive for COVID-19 last month, leading to 14 days of quarantine.
And leading some employees to quit in fear of catching the virus themelves.
It also caused several other factors that put them in a bind.
“We have had 6:30-10 o’clock for decades and now we have to close at 7 and we might even be changing our hours even more to get through this rough patch we seem to be having,” said Erickson’s Thriftway Co-Manager Kevin Eidemiller.
Eidemiller says they may have to close one day a week because of a staffing shortage.
It started when around 10 employees had to quarantine.
“We had three people out from the meat department, a few people from the bakery, a few from the sales department and a couple of managers out,” said Erickson’s Thriftway Co-Manager Savannah Moss.
Three employees tested positive for the virus, including Eidemiller.
“We take every precaution here at the store and once again we keep up with the county and state or we wouldn’t be in business,” said Eidemiller.
The store shut down one day last week to sanitize, shortly after, six employees quit, three saying they were afraid.
“Basically, saying they didn’t want to get infected, or they didn’t want to expose themselves,” said Moss.
Moss says there have been days when they’ve been short nearly 20 positions, leading to other issues.
“We had limited product out in our shelves, especially in our meat department last week that made quite an impact there,” Moss added. “We are slowly trying to open back up ours and get back to our full extent.”
Just like many employers across the country, Thriftway is now struggling to find new workers.
“Now you can find higher paying jobs because there is such an off balance of salaries, especially in Central Oregon,” said Eidemiller.
OSHA says there have been no COVID complaints toward Thriftway and Jefferson County Public Health says this was not a workplace outbreak.
Thriftway’s General Manager is also considering reducing hours at the Prineville store due to hiring issues.