Gov. Mike Parson declared Monday to be Supermarket Employee Day in observance of the efforts grocery store employees have made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Missouri, there are 99,191 retail jobs in the grocery industry, generating $10 billion in economic activity, he pointed out Monday during a celebration at Hy-Vee in Jefferson City.
"I told some of the workers back there — I said, 'You guys are kind of like us farmers a little bit. We had to keep things going during the pandemic. Nothing changes for you too much on the farm,'" Parson said. "You've still got to be able to deliver product. You've still got to be able to raise crops. You've still got to be able to raise the food that people eat every day."
More importantly, he said, people have to go into grocery stores every day and deliver services.
Supermarket employees had to go to work every day during the past nine months, do their jobs and deliver products to Missouri consumers.
"I can tell you from my position — one as a governor, and two as an everyday person — I appreciate everything you've done for the people of this state during this time," Parson told several dozen Hy-Vee employees.
Supermarket employees showing up for work every day made a difference in people's lives.
"The last time I was up here, you people that work here were out there delivering food to them out there when they drive in so they could go home and feed their families. Honoring you — it doesn't seem like it is enough," Parson said.
Missourians like to eat. And the only way they can do that is if supermarket employees are on the job, he said.
Parson also noted the state surpassed 1 million of COVID-19 vaccine doses injected into people's arms over the weekend, and that 700,000 Missourians have received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
He said data show Missouri had the second-lowest COVID-19 positivity rate Monday morning in the United States.
"Stay the course. We're not out of this yet," Parson said.
Hy-Vee store director Rod Dolph said the country has 6 million grocery store workers.
"I just want to take a brief opportunity and thank the 88,000 Hy-Vee workers who have worked so diligently over this past year, during this pandemic," Dolph said. "They've worked overtime. They've worked in departments that are not necessarily their home departments. They've stocked trucks. They've worked nights, weekends, overnight — whatever it takes to make sure we're taking care of that customer."
As part of a federal program, doses of the Pfizer vaccine were to ship to the Hy-Vee pharmacy in Jefferson City beginning Monday. Store management expect vaccinations to begin this week.
Dawn Buzynski, Hy-Vee director of strategic communications, said the volume of doses it is to receive is uncertain, but the pharmacy intends to vaccinate somebody every four minutes.
It has set up special waiting areas that provide room to social distance for customers who arrive for vaccinations. The vaccinations are to be given to people 65 and older.
Patients must visit hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine to schedule an appointment for a vaccination at Hy-Vee. Staff ask that you make an appointment for your first vaccination and an appointment for the second dose three weeks later.
The Jefferson City store has three pharmacists and five certified technicians who will be allowed to provide the vaccinations. When appointments are available, they will provide vaccinations 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily.