Walgreens and CVS are reportedly closing down some of the companies’ pharmacies on Saturdays and/or Sundays to address the worker shortage issue that is affecting various industries across the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “CVS Health Corp. […] and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. […] said weekend shutdowns are unusual but become a reality when locations lack enough pharmacists and technicians to remain open.”
Other stores such as Macy’s and Walmart are reducing their hours, as well, as staff either are remaining at home because they are sick, waiting to get test results back, or are taking care of other people who have been infected with the coronavirus.
The Journal reported that prior to the Omicron variant spreading across the country, the drugstore companies were shortening hours, increasing wages, and attempting to bring on tens of thousands of additional employees to deal with the worker shortages. “But with their roles as major providers of Covid-19 testing and vaccinations, the chains are also dealing with growing discontent among existing staff as well as customers’ concern about service,” the outlet added.
CVS and Walgreens both reportedly said they are not able to measure the weekend shutdowns, which change every week and sometimes take place without much of a heads-up. Customers in Washington, D.C., as well as areas of Maine and New York said they have been surprised to find the drive-through service or the pharmacy area closed in recent weeks. Some even came to the pharmacy for a scheduled COVID-19 vaccination appointment to discover that the pharmacy itself was not open.
Last month, Rite Aid also said it would start shutting down its shops an hour early and permit walk-in vaccinations for just one hour each day due to the low amount of workers.
A CVS spokesperson, per The Journal, noted that a minor fraction of its almost 10,000 stores in the United States are shutting down for one or two days of the weekend “to help address acute staffing issues amidst both the Omicron surge and the workforce shortage affecting nearly every industry and company.”
A Walgreens spokeswoman reportedly said that a large majority of its 9,000 U.S. stores are open during their usual hours. “The ongoing labor shortage, combined with the surge of Covid-19 cases, has resulted in isolated instances in which we’ve had to adjust operating hours or temporarily close a limited number of stores,” she said.
The Journal added:
When a pharmacy has to close, Walgreens tries to shut it on days with the lowest demand and then to prepare nearby locations to handle added business, the spokeswoman said. The company tries to alert customers as soon as possible with signage, automated phone calls and adjustments in refills. Employees from closed locations often are deployed to help staff at other stores, she said.
The staffing shortage is being felt across many industries, with healthcare being especially hard hit.
The Daily Wire reported that hospitals across the country are being stretched as staff members call in sick over COVID-19 infections after health care systems fired employees over their vaccination status. The Wall Street Journal reported that employee shortages led the Mass General Brigham hospital system to maintain 83 empty beds last Friday. “The University Hospitals system in Ohio has closed as many as 16% of its intensive-care beds recently, while Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas has shut 30 of 900 beds,” The Journal noted.
Physicians and healthcare authorities have said that reducing capacity is a last measure for hospitals where it is done to maintain the necessary safety and care of specific patients. However, such actions can have negative and potentially devastating effects. People are left waiting in emergency rooms, ambulances have to wait, and other care like cancer treatment is put off until a later date.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the vaccine mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in a 5-4 decision, The Daily Wire reported.
“The mandate covers approximately 10 million healthcare workers at roughly 76,000 hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. The majority in the CMS case argued that the government had the ability to mandate the vaccine as it dealt with facilities that received Medicare and Medicaid funding,” per The Daily Wire.
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