Leaked email reveals CVS district leader instructed pharmacy staff not to tell patients their medications were filled by someone who tested positive for COVID-19

Irene Jiang/Business InsiderStaff said that CVS has ignored illnesses and exposure incidents.
  • A leaked email from a CVS district leader told staff not to inform patients that their prescriptions were filled by someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis told Business Insider, “It is not our policy to prohibit our pharmacies from informing patients if their prescription was filled when an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 worked in the pharmacy.”
  • The Georgia CVS technician who shared the email with Business Insider said workers were threatened with discipline or termination if they told customers about confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Fourteen CVS employees across the US told Business Insider that CVS has a pattern of bullying staff and flagrantly disregarding the safety of customers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A leaked email revealed a CVS district leader instructed employees not to tell patients that their medications had been filled by someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis told Business Insider, “It is not our policy to prohibit our pharmacies from informing patients if their prescription was filled when an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 worked in the pharmacy.”

A Georgia CVS technician shared the internal email with Business Insider. The email from the district leader asked employees to track down which prescriptions were filled by a COVID-19-positive employee and pull them from the shelves. However, if a patient had already picked up one of those prescriptions, the standard policy was to “NOT make an outreach call.”

The technician said workers were threatened with disciplinary action or termination if they told customers that someone in the store had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We were told not to contact anyone or let anyone know,” the technician told Business Insider.

At least 14 CVS employees across the country have reached out to Business Insider and said CVS has a pattern of “bullying” staff, as well as flagrantly disregarding the safety of both staff and customers. Business Insider granted anonymity to all sources over job-security concerns and confirmed their identities.

Staffers said CVS has ignored incidents of potential coronavirus exposure.

DeAngelis confirmed to Business Insider last week that it is CVS’s policy to allow employees to work if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive. DeAngelis said CVS allows asymptomatic employees who have not tested positive for COVID-19 to work if they wear surgical masks, self-monitor for symptoms, and have their temperature taken before and after every shift for 14 days after exposure.

Workers are also allowed to request time off to quarantine if exposed to a coworker who tested positive, DeAngelis added.

But after the Georgia technician’s coworker showed symptoms and tested positive, staff who’d worked in close proximity with the coworker were instructed not to get tested “because they couldn’t have anyone else out of work,” the technician said.

Gag rules where employers prohibit workers from speaking out about COVID-19 cases are becoming common, Bloomberg reported. Workers often live in fear of being punished or fired for informing customers of a COVID-19 case at their place of work.

“In many places, workplace exposures are driving the pandemic,” David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University, told Bloomberg.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it was CVS’s policy to allow employees who tested positive for COVID-19 but were asymptomatic to keep working. CVS does allow employees who are exposed to COVID-19-positive individuals to continue working, while also self-monitoring for symptoms. Positive COVID-19 asymptomatic patients are offered 14 days of paid leave.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article implied that an email instructing employees not to tell patients that their medications had been filled by someone who tested positive for COVID-19 came from CVS Health corporate. The email came from a district leader, not from CVS Heath corporate.

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