Minnesota and Vermont Just Classified Grocery Clerks as Emergency Workers

Shawn Lynch, assistant manager of a grocery store in Brattleboro, Vermont, restocks cases of water during an overnight shift. His team worked through the night to make sure the shelves were full for the next day's shoppers to buy supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

As the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic closes schools across the country, more and more parents are juggling working from home with caring full-time for their children. But working from home isn’t possible for emergency personnel like paramedics, nurses, and public health workers who are on the front lines of the fight against the virus. Some states and cities are providing child care for emergency workers so they can do their jobs.

Minnesota and Vermont have now officially designated another group of workers as emergency personnel: grocery clerks. This means the workers hurrying to stock shelves and check out customers in those states will also receive free child care.

The directive from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz came as part of an order for “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers,” which instructs closed schools to continue to provide care for children of emergency personnel who are “critical to the response of COVID-19.” Under the order, grocery workers are considered “essential tier 2 workers.” “Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children” of these workers, the order states. (People caring for the children of emergency personnel are also considered emergency personnel.)

The state of Vermont is developing a plan to reimburse private child care centers for providing care to essential workers. Public safety commissioner Michael Schirling told VTDigger that his office would add grocery store workers to the list of essential employees who would receive services like child care.

San Francisco, which is under a shelter-in-place order, limits its emergency child care to first responders, including hospital staff, public health employees, and disaster service workers. On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would open emergency child care centers for children of health, safety, and “essential service” workers, though the definition of “essential service” was not immediately clear.

Grocery clerks are often underpaid and underappreciated. As they brave the daily crowds of people rushing to stock up their pantries, and risk infecting themselves through contact with so many customers, their essential role in a functioning society has become clearer than ever. Designating them emergency workers and providing them child care is the least we can do.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate