Downtown Weirton dealing with life without Kroger

WEIRTON, W.Va. — Downtown Weirton residents are learning what it’s like to live in a so-called food desert. The Kroger that was within walking distance closed nearly 2 weeks ago.

The company still holds the lease and said it will hand the store over in the first quarter of next year. The property owner said he’s had discussions with a few potential tenants, one of which is a grocer.

In the meantime, residents must figure out transportation for their shopping needs. “There’s some people that’s gonna have a hard time, there’s people that don’t drive, don’t have nobody,” Weirton resident Paul Kukich said.

“They’re gonna have to catch the bus and stuff, I don’t know how that’s gonna work out because that’s a lot of bags and stuff. Hopefully it’ll work out for them, but it’s going to be hectic around here.

About 50 percent of the people, it’s gonna really hurt.” Weirton Transit is offering free return trips for riders and has made some other accommodations to help.

The Kroger Co., through its Kroger Health arm, today launched a coronavirus testing solution for employers.

Called COVIDCare Plus, the plan comprises Kroger Health’s FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which became available in July, and access to clinical services offering primary health and wellness care.

The program is now available in 17 states, with plans to roll it out to more states soon, Kroger said Thursday.

We know testing continues to be a critical pillar in the fight against COVID-19,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a statement.

“And yet, our country faces ongoing challenges to keep pace with demand. At Kroger Health, we are grateful to be part of the solution by providing employers with COVID-19 testing that has a short turnaround time.

This is paramount to keeping American businesses open and people at work.” Kroger’s COVID-19 home test kit collects samples via mid-turbinate nasal swabs, the same process that Kroger Health uses at its drive-thru coronavirus testing sites.

The kit includes a telehealth consultation with a licensed health professional to supervise the specimen collection, which Kroger said improves the quality of the sample, increases accessibility and reduces patient anxiety.

This is helping to provide a higher level of testing accuracy. Results are delivered in 24 to 48 hours through Kroger Health’s partnership with CLIA-certified laboratory Gravity Diagnostics.

Related: Kroger launches COVID-19 testing for frontline workers Kroger Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz visits one of Kroger’s drive-thru test sites, which have administered 150,000 COVID-19 tests in 19 states.

COVIDCare Plus also provides employers and their workers access to basic health care services such as vaccinations, telehealth and telenutrition.

Currently, Kroger Health is offering a Base Care option that includes the home test kit, program management, telehealth consultation, a re-testing protocol and reporting.

Coming soon are a Complete Care plan that include the Base Care services plus enhanced reporting, digital screenings, an employer web portal and prescriptions discounts as well as an Advanced.

Care option including the Base and Complete Care services plus Kroger Health immunizations, biometric screenings, ongoing telehealth and telenutrition access, and Welsana meal-kit boxes.

Thermal scanners, digital thermometers and personal protective equipment (PPE) also are available upon request.

Kroger said the expanded health services are designed to drive behavior change to improve well-being and stem the tide of chronic disease, which affects nearly half of Americans.

During the pandemic, medical experts have said chronic conditions and poor health have contributed to more severe COVID-19 cases as well as deaths.

Kroger reported that 72% of Americans are overweight or obese, more than 100 million have diabetes or prediabetes, and a poor diet has become the chief cause of poor health in the United States, according to the 2020 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health.

The company said that, as the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, it offers an array of health, wellness and nutrition solutions.

That includes Kroger Health’s expertise in “food as medicine,” in which licensed dietitians can provide personal nutrition counseling and food recommendations in line with a physician’s guidance.

Kroger Health nurse practitioners, pharmacists and technicians provide professional services for the drive-thru tests.

Kroger said its Kroger Health unit is the nation’s fourth-largest retail health care organization, with more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states serving more than 14 million customers.

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