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Report: Game X Change keeps stores open, gives staff bogus advice for facing COVID-19

Report: Game X Change keeps stores open, gives staff bogus advice for facing COVID-19

April 2, 2020 | By Alex Wawro

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Kotaku reports southeastern U.S. game retailer Game X Change is keeping its stores open and giving its employees bogus advice on how to avoid getting sick.

This is significant because many people are dying every day due to complications caused by the coronavirus, and Game X Change's decision to remain open in the face of urging by federal and state authorities to shutter all non-essential businesses may well lead to more deaths.

In fact, Kotaku reports that a Game X Change employee wrote an anonymous letter to company owner Grant Wetherill this week complaining about Game X Change's guidelines for keeping stores open during the pandemic (which include curbside pickup options and limiting the number of customers in stores) and begging for him to reconsider.

“Some of your employees have families at home they need to be worried about,” reads a portion of the email, a copy of which was obtained by Kotaku.

“They may already have children at risk of sickness, some have infants on the way, and some of us even personally have or knows [sic] someone close with auto-immune disorders—which are some of the people who are extremely susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus. This is almost a guaranteed fatality. Is this something you condone? Just for the store to earn a few extra dollars at the end of the day?”

Kotaku reports that Wetherill responded and pushed the employee to reveal their identity, but did not promise to make any changes. 

Worse, Kotaku reportedly obtained a copy of an email sent out Tuesday by a GXC VP which purports to give GXC employees advice on how to diagnose and prevent coronavirus. While some tips seemed sound, others (like gargling with antiseptic daily, avoiding eating or drinking "cold things", and using sunlight to help sterilize clothing) have been debunked by the World Health Organization and other medical authorities. 

Game X Change chiefly maintains storefronts across the southeastern U.S. (in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere), though it also has several locations in Connecticut.

By remaining open in the face of calls from authorities to shutter, the business is following in the footsteps of GameStop, which ruled itself "essential retail" last month. Under mounting pressure from authorities and employees, GameStop quickly recanted and announced it would temporarily suspend in-store operations in favor of retailing games via online channels and curbside pickup.

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