Grocery workers are key during the virus. And they’re afraid

FILE - In this March 27, 2020, file photo, a worker, wearing a protective mask against the coronavirus, stocks produce before the opening of Gus's Community Market in San Francisco. Grocery workers across the globe are working the front lines during lockdowns meant to keep the coronavirus from spreading. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

By JIM VERTUNO

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Grocery workers across the globe are working the frontlines during lockdowns meant to keep the coronavirus from spreading. Their stores are deemed essential, and their work puts them close to the public and therefore at risk. Often in low-wage jobs, the workers have earned praise from Pope Francis and former U.S. President Barack Obama. But with infection and death rates climbing, workers are demanding better pay, protections and access to testing. Some major chains like Kroger and Walmart are providing bonuses and protective gear. But that doesn’t always alleviate workers’ fears, especially when customers don’t practice social distancing.