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Haight Street Whole Foods Staffer Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Also: OpenTable is launching a grocery store line reservation feature, and more news to start your day

Whole Foods Launches Produce Rating System To Highlight Environmental Impact
A worker at the Whole Foods grocery store in San Francisco’s Upper Haight neighborhood has tested positive for COVID-19
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As Instacart begins to warn workers that they might have been exposed to COVID-19, an employee at the Whole Foods in the Upper Haight has tested positive for the virus.

The same day that workers at Whole Foods grocery stores across the country called in sick to call for greater protection against the threat of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), news broke that a worker at the Amazon-owned chain’s location on Haight Street has tested positive for the virus.

KQED reports that workers at the store were told in-person or via recorded message on Saturday, and that the employee was last at the store on March 15, but no update on their condition was provided. Meanwhile, some shoppers with Instacart, which also saw strike action this week, tell CNet that they’ve gotten messages warning them that they might have been exposed to COVID-19 after trips to stores with employees that have tested positive for the illness.

Whole Foods tells the Wall Street Journal that “there was not an elevated level of absenteeism at the chain’s more than 500 stores on Tuesday and that they all operated without interruption.” That’s true for the San Francisco Whole Foods, as well: though a spokesperson for the store says the Haight location was cleaned and disinfected, there was no change to business hours after the news of the infected employee was announced.

“They send us an email of their sales every day and they are killing it right now,” one employee told KQED. “Just on a store level, they’ve already made enough to probably cover everyone’s PTO for two weeks while they sanitize the store and make sure no one else has it.”

And in other news...

  • Writer Fanny Singer, whose mother is Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, has written a book called Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories, a memoir about her (thus far, 36-year) life as the daughter of a Bay Area culinary icon. As part of her promo tour, she did a diary-style item for Vanity Fair that feels surreal to read now, as many of the local bars and restaurants she visits are now (temporarily, one hopes) closed due to the coronavirus crisis. Singer also did a more standard interview with the SF Chronicle, this time accompanied by her mom, which is...interesting.
  • Redwood City’s 41-year-old hot dog destination Ben Franks is hopeful that its landlord, SamTrans, will understand when it doesn’t pay rent this month. It’s a drive-thru and takeout window, serving dogs from 90-year-old SF company Evergood Fine Foods, and its owner says that “Most people are just saying ‘thanks for staying open’...And sure, they’re saying it while they’re pulling up a little farther away from the window than usual.” [SF Gate]
  • Programs like this one, this one, and this one, all intended to support restaurants by paying them to feed those who need meals, continue to pick up steam...and media attention. [KPIX] [ABC 7] [SF Chronicle]
  • Bistro Aix, a 24-year-old Marina French spot honored with a Michelin Bib Gourmand, has permanently closed. [SF Chronicle]
  • If you’re looking for a long-but-not-too-long read that isn’t about coronavirus, here’s Virginia Heffernan’s report on Bay Area-based fake meat company Impossible Foods, which she says might offer the key to the planet’s salvation. No pressure, Impossible! [Wired]
  • Ice cream chain Salt & Straw, which has locations in Hayes Valley and on Fillmore Street, has temporarily closed all 21 of its stores, laying off 669 workers. [SF Business Times]
  • Pillar Point Harbor crabber Lucas Kinley says that business is booming after he decided to start offering delivery of his fresh-caught crustaceans. [NBC Bay Area]
  • Augie’s Montreal Deli isn’t just a take out comfort food must-have, it’s now a Berkeley-approved market, selling items like paper towels and spray cleaner. “We’re going to try to relieve some of the pressure on markets like Safeway and Berkeley Bowl that have just been overwhelmed,” co-owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski says.
  • OpenTable says that it’s launching a new tool to help people avoid lines for takeout or groceries similar to its restaurant reservation service. It’s unclear what that will look like in action (a VIP line, perhaps?) but they say that it’ll be in use at Belcampo, Prairie, Tartine Manufactory, and the Epicurean Trader, so soon we can see for ourselves. [ABC News]