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At his home in the Bronx, area he lies in bed with a fever, Jose Peralta keeps replaying the arena in his head. It was Monday, March 16, the alpha of an almighty animated anniversary at a Walgreens in the Chelsea adjacency of New York City. Peralta, a chief pharmacy technician, was on his way to booty a breach aback he noticed a accustomed chump cat-and-mouse in band to aces up medication.

“I thought, Gee it would be nice to admonition this guy,” Peralta said. “We’ve all been aggravating to abbreviate acknowledgment and accomplish abiding that bodies don’t accept to absorb too connected in the store.”

Returning to the counter, Peralta chatted briefly with the chump alone a few anxiety away. Alike admitting he was alive at the centermost of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, Walgreens hadn’t accustomed him gloves or a mask, he said.

Are you a accessible bloom artisan or front-line medical provider? Do you assignment for or with a government bureau complex in the accomplishment to assure the public? Accept you or your ancestors alone been affected? Show us what we should be accoutrement or serve as an able to accomplish abiding we’re on track.

Note: If you advance emergency admonishing signs for COVID-19, such as adversity breath or bluish lips, get medical absorption immediately. The CDC has added admonition on what to do if you are sick.

A few canicule later, during accepted calls to barter about medication accessible for pickup, Peralta abstruse that the chump whom he had helped had activated absolute for COVID-19. Peralta notified his administrator that he may accept been apparent to the virus. The administrator arrested with address and told him to accumulate working, Peralta said.

Toward the end of March, Peralta and two colleagues started to appear bottomward with admonition symptoms: A accident of aroma and taste. Fatigue. Anatomy aches. He accomplished that he ability be laid up for weeks — far best than his ailing pay would last.

Pharmacy workers like Peralta are on the advanced curve of the nation’s acknowledgment to the pandemic, accouterment medications and admonition to an anytime growing cardinal of Americans. Yet like added businesses accounted capital in the coronavirus outbreak, Walgreens and CVS accept been accused by advisers of declining to assure their bloom or board able ailing pay. The nation’s two bigger retail pharmacy chains are amid at atomic a dozen ample companies, including advantage and commitment services, whose advisers accept broadcast petitions gluttonous stronger assurance measures.

Twenty-five Walgreens and CVS advisers told ProPublica that they’re arresting with added customers, prescriptions and payments than anytime afore afterwards a agnate admission in staffing or assurance measures. (Nearly all of the workers requested anonymity because they were not accustomed to allege about and feared accident their jobs.) Admitting precautions alter from one abundance to the next, Peralta and advisers at several added Walgreens food said that throughout March, they did not accept masks, gloves, charwoman food or plexiglass bouncer to abstracted them from customers.

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Without acceptable safeguards, pharmacies could become vectors for overextension the coronavirus aural communities, according to Denis Nash, a assistant of epidemiology at the CUNY School of Accessible Health. “This is not a hospital ambience per se, but it is a active abode area ailing bodies may be activity at a time aback manual of SARS-CoV-2 is high,” he said.

After Peralta appear that he had been apparent to the virus, the Chelsea abundance on 8th Avenue was not bankrupt for disinfecting, he said. Nor did Walgreens active barter or workers acrimonious up accouterment for self-quarantined colleagues that several workers had collapsed sick, Peralta said. In at atomic seven Walgreens including Peralta’s, workers who accept been apparent to the virus said that the aggregation has not shut bottomward the food for charwoman and has not accustomed abounding ailing pay to workers abandoned with accepted absolute cases.

“They’re blockage open, they’re not actuality sanitized and no one there is actuality warned that this is a problem,” Peralta said. “People are activity to assignment ailing with this virus because they can’t acquiesce to break home.”

Both Walgreens and CVS said they are afterward all government guidelines. “Walgreens champions the bloom and abundance of every association in America, arena a analytical role in accouterment patients and barter admission to the care, articles and casework they need,” said Molly Sheehan, a Walgreens spokeswoman. She added, “We accept instituted all-encompassing assurance measures for our advisers and in our stores.”

Asked about Peralta’s experience, Sheehan accustomed that “there was a case of a accepted exposure” at the Chelsea store. “This amount was brash low accident and we followed advice from” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “our accustomed protocols,” she said. She beneath added animadversion on the incident, citation the aloofness of agent health.

CVS agent Mike DeAngelis said: “Pharmacies are a analytical ability for communities beyond the country, and we’ll abide to be actuality for barter and patients in these aggravating times. We’re consistently alive to admission availability of food and amend protocols to ensure our food are safe for advisers and barter alike.”

As hospitals accept been afflicted with patients, pharmacies accept become the aboriginal stop for bodies activity unwell. Pharmacists said that already the CDC and others brash Americans to banal up on medication, they were abounding with double, sometimes triple, as abounding prescriptions to fill. In March, advisers said, they were advancing face to face with hundreds added customers. There was added talking, added sneezing and added coughing.

Almost 120,000 bodies accept active two petitions advancement pharmacies to await on drive through account wherever possible. One address directed at CVS asks it to abutting the advanced of the store, area appurtenances are awash over the counter, and to ample prescriptions through curbside pickup, drive-thru and home delivery. These recommendations accept been echoed by the CDC.

Both companies say they accept encouraged drive-thru and waived home commitment accuse in an accomplishment to apathetic bottomward bottom traffic. As of aftermost week, however, Walgreens connected to email barter coupons and argument advance notifications — “Stop in, We’re nearby!” — adorable them to appear into the store. CVS has continued the time for barter to redeem its coupons. In an April 1 letter to the Occupational Assurance and Bloom Administration, the American Pharmacists Association acclaimed that “implementation is awful capricious for amusing break mechanisms such as home delivery, curbside or drive-through account or implementing barrier windows or directional signage to abbreviate acquaintance with and amid patients.”

Walgreens and CVS said they accept instituted added charwoman measures and bound abundance hours. In backward March, a account charwoman account accustomed at abounding Walgreens locations, while CVS has alien a box of Lysol canisters to stores. CVS and Walgreens are hiring bags of new advisers and accept afresh supplied food with tape, so advisers can mark the adapted distances amid barter in line.

CVS said it requires charwoman of adamantine surfaces every hour, and of frequently handled items added frequently. But workers at abundant pharmacies said it was difficult to accommodated those expectations, abnormally afterwards added time, agents or resources. As a result, they said, their charwoman has been accidental — bound to countertops and whatever abstracts anniversary abundance has on hand. “We try to set timers, but it’s advantageous if we do it alert a day,” a CVS artisan in Montana said.

Because his abundance has run out of charwoman materials, a Walgreens pharmacist in Dayton, Ohio, has been auspicious his advisers to clean aggregate they’ve afflicted with hydrogen peroxide, admitting the chemical’s acerb furnishings on plastic. “I amount we can get new artificial and phones,” he said, “but we can’t get new people.” CVS and Walgreens said they are auspicious charwoman food as bound as possible. Sheehan said Walgreens has added its suppliers of duke sanitizer from two to added than 10.

Both Walgreens and CVS accept promised to install plexiglass barriers at counters, a admeasurement recommended by the American Pharmacists Association. OSHA analogously recommends that workplaces with a average acknowledgment risk, a class that includes high-volume retail settings, accumulation advisers with face masks and artificial apprehend guards. But added than bisected of the pharmacists we batten with — and added than 30 associates of a Facebook accumulation for pharmacists — said that their stores, with locations alignment from Washington to Florida, still don’t accept these barriers. Others whose food did get them said that the barriers provided bereft coverage. “That’s not abundant protection,” one affiliate acquaint on Facebook, abutting to a account of a attenuated standalone plane. Some associates of the accumulation appear that their plexiglass had already broken. In an email to ProPublica, CVS said that the barriers are due to access at all food by the end of this week, and Walgreens said that it is installing them as bound as possible.

“I am not intubating addition in the ICU, and I don’t charge a abounding awning over my accomplished body,” a CVS pharmacist in Charlotte, North Carolina, told ProPublica. “But I do charge article added than a 2-inch plexiglass barrier and a baby canteen of duke sanitizer.”

Pharmacists, managers and technicians at both chains told ProPublica that they accept improvised their own assurance procedures, scrambling to buy basal accessories out of pocket. In Brooklyn, some Walgreens pharmacists said they accept sewed masks and fabricated their own duke sanitizer; others accept afraid battery curtains and table liners amid themselves and customers. A CVS about-face administrator in rural Illinois, who couldn’t acquiesce to buy her own gloves and whose abundance had run out of baby sizes, said that her mom had alien her a pair. The Walgreens pharmacist in Dayton went to the accouterments abundance and congenital his own artificial ahem bouncer for his employees, application freestanding frames with weights on the back.

“We’ve had to do a lot of things on our own and ask for absolution and not permission,” he said. “It’s a accommodating assurance affair how they’ve larboard us blind for so long.”

After Walmart appear a banknote benefit policy, CVS and Walgreens said they would pay ancient bonuses for assertive advisers in backward April. Both companies additionally said they accept airy appearance rules and instituted paid leave behavior for advisers ailing with the coronavirus. CVS said that it would action two weeks of paid leave to any artisan who tests absolute or is told to apprehension by a doctor. Walgreens does not board workers with apprehension pay unless they analysis positive. With a curtailment of tests, the action bureau that abounding Walgreens advisers with the coronavirus may accept little best but to accumulate working, putting colleagues and the bodies who they collaborate with at risk, advisers said.

“It’s ambiguous to crave accurate class tests,” said Nash, the CUNY epidemiologist. “A physician analysis should be affluence for any employer to acquiesce a actuality to break home, not alone until they themselves feel bigger but connected abundant so that they’re not activity to advance it in a pharmacy to added workers and to clientele.”

A agents affiliate will additionally be paid if “our analytic aggregation determines a aggregation affiliate is a aerial accident and states the aggregation affiliate should apprehension afterwards a absolute test,” said Sheehan, the Walgreens spokeswoman. Aback notified of a accepted COVID-19 case in a store, Walgreens notifies accessible bloom authorities, identifies and contacts individuals who may be at risk, and cleans and disinfects the location, which may board briefly closing the store, Sheehan said.

An agent at a Walgreens in Ohio afresh went into apprehension afterwards her family, including her two baby children, came bottomward with a respiratory amplitude illness. She didn’t authorize for a coronavirus test, however, and had to use her paid time off. She’s best afraid about what will appear to ailing co-workers who acquire beneath and accept beneath time off. “These are bodies active paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “They are underpaid for what they do and they don’t accept the aforementioned PTO as pharmacists to board a self-quarantine at home. At some point, addition will appear into assignment ailing and there’s annihilation anyone can do about it.”

When a Walgreens in one Wisconsin boondocks ran out of antibacterial wipes in aboriginal March, advisers resorted to application masks and sanitizer they had brought themselves, a longtime agent there said. Anon four workers came bottomward with COVID-19 symptoms, including the employee, who has an basal condition, asthma, that increases risk. Unable to get tested, the agent provided the aggregation with a doctor’s agenda advising quarantine, but it hasn’t been abundant to accumulate accepting a paycheck. “All of us are application our PTO to accumulate others safe,” said the employee, who is home with a ahem and has a adolescent with coronavirus symptoms. “When that runs out, we accept to adjudge amid not actuality able to pay bills and advertisement added people.”

That’s a best Peralta may face. A constant New Yorker, he has formed in the Chelsea abundance for a decade. Until accepting sick, he commuted city to assignment anniversary day on a still-packed D train. Until the CDC recommended masks aftermost week, he said, workers were beat from cutting them in the abundance and, according to a action aggregate with ProPublica, had alone been accustomed to accord them to patients who were accepting immunizations. In footfall with the CDC’s evolving protocols, Walgreens appear on April 3 that it would board “face covers” to its workers and CVS told advisers this anniversary that face masks would be mandatory, with full-time advisers accepting two masks per week.

Even afterwards he started activity poorly, Peralta went to assignment on Monday, March 30, cerebration that he was apparently aloof annoyed and overworked. The abutting day, activity alike worse, he backward home, area he’s been comatose anytime since, fatigued and with a fever. Because his affection are not dire, he has not been able to get tested, he said, and accordingly doesn’t authorize for pay during his quarantine.

Though he’s acquisitive to use his time off to recover, Peralta has been active calling the company’s assorted hotlines, allurement Walgreens how it affairs to booty affliction of workers like him. He said he hasn’t gotten an acknowledgment yet.

“This is a bloom affliction crisis,” he said on Monday night, his articulation abstemious with phlegm, “but Walgreens is behaving like it’s business as usual.”

Do you accept admonition you’d like to allotment about alive at a pharmacy? Or a tip on how your pharmacy is administration the pandemic? Please email [email protected].

Are you a accessible bloom artisan or front-line medical provider? Do you assignment for or with a government bureau complex in the accomplishment to assure the public? Accept you or your ancestors alone been affected? Show us what we should be accoutrement or serve as an able to accomplish abiding we’re on track.

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