Woman with cart

COVID-19 is far from gone, but grocery and medical employees say they’ve found a “new normal.”

Though Michigan continues to grapple with the recent upsurge of COVID-19 cases this summer, essential workers in the Jewish community have been breathing a sigh of relief over the past few months.

Many grocery store workers find working conditions to be more tolerable since April, even though the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been slowly trending upward since mid-June.

Joe Montgomery, general manager of Johnny Pomodoro’s, a local grocery store in Farmington Hills, recalled some of the hardships the market suffered when the pandemic first hit Michigan in mid-March.

“Our whole business model had to change. Sales were down, and everyone was staying at home,” Montgomery said.

To adjust to the “new normal,” Montgomery said the store began to limit ordering of less popular grocery items and embrace social distancing policies as customers were required to stand at a 6-foot distance in grocery lines. As a result, he said the store is slowly getting back to operating at a normal capacity.

“Supplies that were constantly out of stock, like cleaning wipes, alcohol and hand sanitizer are now back on our shelves,” he added.

Montgomery said workers have a cleaning schedule to routinely sanitize surfaces to minimize the chances of spreading or contracting the virus.

But not every store has taken the same precautions. Jordana Wolfson, who picks her grocery shopping times carefully, said she’s gone to another market in the area that isn’t making the same effort to keep workers and customers safe.

“The market in my area needs to take some of the same precautions that larger supermarkets like Kroger take. They need to put up plexiglass for the cashiers who deal with so many people on a regular basis. They also need to sanitize the shopping carts. This will save lives,” Wolfson said.

Even though coming to work daily has been a risk for Montgomery, he remains dedicated to his job despite concerns about contracting the virus.

“Our job in the grocery store is essential. We must meet the needs of the people in our community,” he added.

In fact, his dedication and tireless efforts have not gone unnoticed by Johnny Pomodoro’s customers. Recently, customers designed and posted a banner for Montgomery and the grocery store workers which read, “Thank You, Grocery Store Heroes.”

Montgomery is also pleased that most of his customers have been complying with the governor’s order requiring all Michiganders to wear face masks or cloth coverings over their nose and mouth.

“Wearing a mask is one of the ways that we can protect each other during this pandemic,” he added.


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