‘I’ve lost my world:’ Market Basket worker dies from coronavirus as grocery employees call for more protection

SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - Family and co-workers are mourning a Salem Market Basket worker who died of coronavirus-related illness, while grocery employees from across the area gathered in Boston Tuesday to call for more safety and better pay during the pandemic.

David Williams said his wife Vitalina, 59, died of the virus.

“I’ve lost my world, she created her own world. I’ve been happily lost in Vitaworld for the last 19 years,” Williams said. “I’m trying to get my head out of the horror of it all.”

“Look around you, look at the people you care about, love, know,” Williams said. “Remember how fleeting it is. We’ve lost an insurmountable amount when we lost her.”

Williams last worked at the store on March 26, according to Justine Griffin, spokesperson for Market Basket.

“Vitalina Williams was a part-time Market Basket associate who served in our Salem store for eleven years,” Griffin said. “Our hearts go out to her husband Dave who is also a member of our Market Basket family.”

Griffin added counseling services were available for co-workers.

Two other associates at the Salem store have tested positive for the virus and have quarantined themselves and their close contacts, Griffin said, and public health officials have been notified. A specialized cleaning crew has been brought in to clean and disinfect the store as an added precaution.

In Boston, dozens of workers from across the region protested outside a Whole Foods, saying they need more PPE and hazard pay. Organizers said other workers were afraid to join the protest for fears of being fired.

Whole Foods said it is providing more PPE and an extra $2 an hour for employees, but workers said their jobs are still dangerous.

“We’re essential employees but we’re people first,” said worker Lisa Wilson, who fears getting the coronavirus while on the job. “I feel like they forgot that a long time ago and it’s time for them to remember that.”

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

Click here for more coronavirus coverage.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)