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A Kroger employee who worked at a King Soopers in Denver has died from coronavirus. Randy Narvaez worked at the grocery store located at 9th Avenue and Downing Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. There are 12 known cases of COVID-19 among employees at the King Soopers where Narvaez worked. The store has been hit hard. Around a dozen employees have been quarantined after testing positive. The King Soopers is affectionally known as “Queen Soopers” by local queer folks because of the neighborhood it is nestled in.

King Soopers

Steve Gieside is one of the King Soopers employees who worked with Narvaez. “Randy was a good guy, a good person to talk to, helped people out when they needed it.” The store was Randy’s home away from home.

Narvaez leaves behind a daughter. He worked at King Soopers for 30 years and was an avid Denver Broncos fan. United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 President Kim Cordova grew up with him. “He was just the sweetest guy; everybody loved his smile. He was a huge Denver Broncos fan.”

Cordova is demanding the Capitol Hill grocery store be shut down to be properly cleaned and disinfected to ensure customer and employee safety. The union is also requesting that every employee be tested before the store can reopen.

The company says it recently did a deep cleaning and sanitization. Employees have their temperatures taken; cashiers are behind clear acrylic, and all workers are given gloves and masks.

Glen Hunter regularly shops at this store. Unlike him, he sees a number of customers who don’t put on a mask. “It’s going to get to the point that when people come in there and don’t have a mask on, people are going to get verbally biased,” he said.

King Soopers released this statement to press:

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, King Soopers has taken extensive measures to safeguard our associates, customers, and supply chain, ensuring local communities always have access to fresh, affordable food.

Currently, 11 associates out of the store’s total 166 associates have tested positive for COVID-19, all of whom have been self-quarantining per the company’s Emergency Leave Guidelines. The store was thoroughly deep-cleaned by a CDC-approved third party on May 16, and another sanitization was performed last night as an added precaution.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our King Soopers family member who worked at the Capitol Hill store in Denver. The associate had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 in early May. Our associates are part of our family and we, along with their families, are mourning this loss deeply. Additionally, we are in communication with our associates that have tested positive to assist in their needs. Our thoughts are with them as they recover, and we wish them well. We have made mental health and grief counselors available to support our associates.

Through regular communication with the Denver County Health Department, we’ve affirmed that our processes continue to live up to our high safety standards in protecting our more than 27,000 associates and the millions of customers that visit our 152 stores each week.”