World Walmart Requiring Employees at Arkansas HQ, Some Other Managers to Get COVID Shot
Unvaccinated Arkansas Is Running Out of Time
Only 35 percent of the state is fully vaccinated, and with case rates rising, living there can feel like moving through a distorted reality.Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, and one of the worst case rates for COVID-19. Our neighboring states—especially Missouri—are seeing similar trends. Case counts have been increasing at the highest rates since February, and we have the most new cases per capita in the nation. On Monday, we saw the highest single-day increase in hospitalizations, 79 new patients, of the entire pandemic. Test-positivity rates are also high, suggesting that infections are undercounted.
Employees at's Arkansas headquarters and managers who travel within the U.S. need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 4, the company announced Friday.
The retailer is also reversing course on its mask policy for employees, including those who are vaccinated, who are working in stores, clubs, distribution facilities and warehouses. They must wear masks in areas with surging rates of COVID-19 going forward.
As the pandemic wears on, some Americans could need booster shots
Some health officials now think a third shot could help older and immunocompromised people. Israel is already offering a third Pfizer shot for immunocompromised residents — though millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have yet to be vaccinated — and Pfizer has previously suggested that a booster shot could be needed in the US. Regulatory questions abound Though the US currently has tens of millions of surplus Covid-19 vaccine doses on hand, making a third Pfizer or Moderna shot available to millions of immunocompromised or elderly Americans likely won’t be a quick process.
The policy change comes as the virus sees a resurgence in the U.S., particularly among unvaccinated people. Walmart is rolling out a series of sweeping measures to curb the spread and vaccinate more of its workforce.
"We're asking our leaders, which already have a higher vaccination rate, to make their example clear," said Walmart spokesman Scott Pope in an email sent to The Associated Press. "We're hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated."
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The vaccine mandate excludes frontline workers, who the company says have a lower vaccination rate than management. But it's hoping that management will serve as an inspiration for its workers.
'Bioweapons' and 'Mind Control': Arkansas Governor Faces Pushback on COVID Vaccines
"Those are obviously erroneous," Hutchinson said.Speaking with Jake Tapper during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Hutchinson detailed some of the often outlandish responses he has gotten from constituents while doing town hall visits. These visits were intended to urge residents of Arkansas, particularly conservatives, to get vaccinated for COVID-19, which the state is struggling with.
Pope declined to break out the vaccination rate for frontline workers and the rest of its employees.
Walmart is encouraging customers to wear masks in stores located in areas with surging cases and will be adding back signs at the entrances. It will also bring back so-called health ambassadors who will be stationed at the entrances and hand out masks.
Walmart is also doubling the incentive for workers in stores, clubs, as well as other facilities like distribution centers to get the vaccine for $150. Those who already received the $75 incentive will receive another $75 in their paycheck dated Aug 19.
The steps come three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.
Mandate the vaccine, not masks
Vaccines are the solution to Covid-19. Let’s make the most of them.With the rise of the delta variant and a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling on vaccinated people to wear masks indoors again in places where the virus is quickly spreading. At least some school districts will likely require masks this fall. Local governments, from Massachusetts to California, are reviving mask mandates.
Walmart's move to require vaccinations of its workers at its headquarters follows Google's steps announced earlier in the week that it's postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.'s announcement was shortly followed by , which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.
Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more cautious approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.
Delta andare requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their workers to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.
However, given Walmart's outsized influence on the economy, more companies could make similar announcements. Grocery chain Kroger announced Friday afternoon that it is now encouraging all customers, workers and suppliers, including those who received the shot, to wear masks at its stores.
Walmart again requiring masked workers in parts of US
The world's largest retailer Walmart announced Friday that it will again require employees to wear face masks at stores in areas of the United States with high rates of Covid-19 transmission. Walmart workers in areas of high transmission "are required to wear a mask or face covering while working indoors, regardless of vaccination status," the company said.The chain, which has become something of a bellwether for safety protocols in the United States during the pandemic, said it would also post signs at stores to "strongly encourage" customers to wear masks or face coverings, the company said on its website.
Walmart's dramatically shifting policy reflects the growing worry about the rising infection rates.
"We continue to watch with deep concern the developments of the pandemic and the spread of variants, especially the delta variant," wrote Donna Morris, Walmart's chief people officer, in the memo circulated to employees that was shared by Walmart. "We know vaccinations are our solution to drive change. We are urging you to get vaccinated and want to see many more of you vaccinated."
In a separate memo sent to employees who work at the company headquarters, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc., wrote, "The virus is not over, and the delta variant has led to an increase in infection rates across much of the U.S."
Pope told The Associated Press that the retailer has seen a "positive response" to the first financial incentive and is anticipating the sweetened perk will drive a similar response from workers.
Pope stopped short of saying that office workers who declined to be vaccinated would be terminated but said that Walmart is working through the process. He noted that the exceptions would be those who can't get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.
When asked why frontline workers won't be required to get the vaccine, Pope said that its approach with its large number of workers in frontline facilities has been "to inform them, encourage them, make it easy and to reward then financially for choosing to receive the vaccine."
Arkansas state troopers fired at twice in one week during traffic stops
Suspects have fired at Arkansas state troopers twice this week during traffic stops, according to state authorities. The first incident was on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. when suspect Stevie Maxwell, 37, refused to stop his vehicle and allegedly shot at Arkansas State Police Corporal Steve Roberts from inside his vehicle. ARKANSAS CRACKS DOWN ON SLOW LEFT-LAND DRIVERS The second incident occurred Thursday just before 2 p.m., when an unnamed suspect, whose identity will be released once he is formally charged, also refused to stop his vehicle and shot at Arkansas State Trooper Tyler Langley, authorities said.
Walmart Inc. said it is also implementing a new process for verification of vaccine status for U.S. workers. It says it will share those details in the future.
A few days aftereased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people back in May, Walmart, along with a slew of other retailers, said it wouldn't require vaccinated shoppers to wear a mask in U.S. stores, unless state or local laws said otherwise. Walmart also said that vaccinated workers could go maskless.
At that time, Walmart said that customers wouldn't be asked but rather held to an "honor system" regarding their vaccination status. Walmart workers who didn't wear masks also had to confirm they were vaccinated by filling out a daily questionnaire, though it was not requiring proof.
Biden Mandated Vax for Feds, Now Comes the Hard Part .
One week after President Joe Biden announced that all employees and in-person contractors of the federal government will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to return to the workplace, the government is still figuring out how to implement it. The attestation system that Biden envisions is unprecedented in its scale and scope, dwarfing efforts by everything from Walmart to the Met Gala to start requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order for Americans to work, eat, drink and play.