At grocery stores and pharmacies, the latest stage of the pandemic is resulting not only in empty shelves but also closed doors. Walmart is still shuttering stores across the country for deep cleanings, but it's not the only retailer making the decision to temporarily shut down some of its locations.
Staffing issues precipitated by the omicron wave are now forcing CVS and Walgreens to close select units, according to Reuters. However, any changes to store operating hours appear to be temporary.
A spokesperson for Walgreens told Reuters about 100 of its 9,000 stores are being affected by the closures.
"It's an extremely limited, case-by-case basis and not specific to any region or area, as we make every effort to staff and keep pharmacy open for our patients in the community," they said.
There are nearly 10,000 CVS locations in the U.S., though it's unclear how many are seeing reductions in hours. Joe Goode, the senior director of corporate communications for the company, told Eat This, Not That! that a "vast majority of our stores are open on their normal weekend hours," but that "A small number of stores may temporarily close on one or both days of the weekend to help address acute staffing issues amidst the Omicron variant surge and a nationwide workforce shortage."
The number of COVID-19 cases has skyrocketed in recent weeks as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads, and experts say the surge hasn't yet peaked nationwide. It remains possible that additional retailers could face shutdowns, leaving shoppers with a more limited number of options in which to pick up food, medicine, and other essential household items.
"This is a fluid, evolving situation and we do not have specific store locations to share. In the event that a pharmacy is temporarily closed, a patient can visit any open CVS Pharmacy location for assistance with their immediate prescription needs," Goode says.
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