The Real Reason Walmart Is Temporarily Closing Some US Stores

Walmart stores across the country are continuing to close with little warning. On December 7, mLive belatedly learned that a store in Kalamazoo County, Michigan had closed earlier that day while WSAZ reported on how an Ashland, Kentucky Walmart would close in two day's time, on December 12. The reason given to both of these news sources was that the store had to hire deep clean specialists to combat the uptick in COVID-19 cases in their respective areas.

The choice of which stores receive cleaning attention may appear random. However, Charles Crowson, director of corporate communications for Walmart's press office, insisted to Eat This, Not That! that the decisions are carefully made: "We have a team at the home office that meets daily to evaluate criteria related to stores and the communities we serve. When that data reaches certain thresholds, we make the decision to get ahead of the situation and proactively close the store for cleaning and sanitizing."

The reason why the team's decisions never give the broader public much time to adjust to the closure is because they have to make reactive decisions based on short-term factors. While general case surges can be predicted during the holiday season, the more detailed aspects of where these waves occur can only be discerned shortly before action must be taken.

The Omicron variant is raising concerns worldwide

The deep cleanings that Walmart continues to undertake take on a greater importance as cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise. Reuters writes that hospitalizations were already rising before the Omicron variant arrived in the United States. Now, as CNBC reports, Dr. Anthony Fauci expects the Omicron variant to piggyback on the Delta variant: "Delta is still a serious problem. I mean, we're looking over our shoulder at omicron, which will assume a dominant role very soon, I would imagine within a period of a few weeks as we go into January." 

The Omicron variant has proven itself the most adept at overcoming the immunity granted by vaccines, though the unvaccinated are still expected to be the worst affected by the virus. Those who have only gotten the base vaccination or have received the booster should have some protection from the more severe symptoms. 

How this new wave of the re-energized virus will change the day-to-day, e.g. prompt a new lockdown, is still unfolding. However, the presence of an even more transmissible, vaccine-defying variant re-emphasizes the need to regularly deep clean community hubs in stricken areas, like Walmart.