PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The coronavirus crisis continues to impact the economy, with retailer JCPenney announcing Tuesday it will extend the temporary closure of its stores and temporarily furlough the majority of its hourly associates.

The company said it will continue to follow guidance from local, state, and federal officials as it anticipates gradually reopening stores and offices in markets when it is safe to do so.

“These are difficult days all across the country and the globe. At JCPenney, we are making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our Company,” said Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of JCPenney. “We remain optimistic about JCPenney’s ability to weather this pandemic. We also believe these short-term solutions will have a long-term benefit for our associates, customers, and key stakeholders as we look forward to the day that we reopen our doors.”

The company said all furloughed workers currently enrolled in the JCPenney benefits program will continue to receive full health benefits.

The company will also cover 100% of employee-paid premiums for the duration of the furlough.

“Our thoughts are with our valued associates and their families who are all being affected as we face this troubling time together. This is a true public health crisis, so we are maintaining health benefits and paying premiums for associates,” Soltau said. “We are in conversation with our associates and endeavoring to answer every one of their questions.”

JCPenney also suspended 2020 merit increases and is evaluating other financial options.

The retailer’s ecommerce distribution centers and customer care will remain open, fulfilling online orders and answering customer questions.

On Monday, The Gap and Macy’s also announced they were furloughing a majority of employees as the industry takes a massive hit from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Latest Coronavirus News | Coronavirus Resources