Assistant store manager Jesus Alvarez rings up groceries from behind a new plexiglass barrier at Ralphs Kroger grocery store after California issued a stay-at-home order in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Kroger, one of the country’s largest retailers, said Monday that it will provide access to free Covid-19 testing for employees who have symptoms or qualify based on medical need.

Starting this month, the grocer said in a news release that employees who work at stores, distribution centers or other facilities will be able to get either a self-administered test kit or an appointment at drive-thru locations run by Kroger Health, the health-care division of the company.

Grocery stores have remained open as essential businesses as other retailers have shuttered. As many other Americans work from home, grocery workers have continued to go to stores. Some have gotten sick and died from the coronavirus.

Kroger is the parent company of numerous grocery chains, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter and Fry’s. It has more than 460,000 employees and nearly 2,800 food stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia.

It is one of five U.S. retailers that have opened and staffed a growing number of drive-thru testing locations across the country. Kroger announced last week that it would have 50 sites by the end of May. It has 30 drive-thru locations across Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. They are staffed by nurse practitioners, pharmacists and technicians from Kroger Health, the company’s health-care division, and located in store parking lots.

Kroger Health president Colleen Lindholz said the grocer is “doing all we can to keep our team healthy and safe.”

“The widespread availability of diagnostic testing will now allow our associates to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about their health, creating safer stores and facilities.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

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