According to a report Wednesday morning from CNN, Amazon is currently dealing with positive tests for the coronavirus by employees from at least nine of its warehouses.
The report cites Amazon and local media reports saying the latest case is from an employee who works in the e-commerce giant’s Staten Island, NY fulfillment center, with the company confirming the positive test to CNN late Tuesday. That person was last at work on March 11, and is currently in quarantine and recovering.
That case is the second to affect Amazon warehouses in New York, and the other such cases were all reported within a week prior. Previous cases have come from Amazon facilities in Queens, NY; Moreno Valley, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Shepherdsville, KY; Brownstown, MI; Oklahoma City, OK; Katy, TX; and Wallingford, CT.
CNN reports that, in response, Amazon has temporarily closed some sites, included the Queens facility, but has otherwise refrained from mass closures and is briefing the public that the company is taking “extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site[s[.” Amazon told CNN those measures include regularly sanitizing high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, lockers and touch screens, along with staggering shifts and spreading out chairs in break rooms.
“We are consulting with health authorities and medical experts on how to handle building closures for deep cleaning, if an employee tests positive for COVID-19,” Amazon said in a Tuesday post on its Day One blog. “Our process evaluates where the employee was in the building, for how long, how much time has passed since they were onsite, and who they interacted with, among other items, in determining whether we need to close. We also ask anyone at the site who was in close contact with the diagnosed individual to stay home with pay for 14-days in self-quarantine.”
That blog post goes on to elaborate on the company’s employee safety measures, saying Amazon has adjusted its practices within facilities through physical, virtual and new formats for internal communications. Amazon said it has adjusted its practices so that its fulfillment center employees can maintain a safer distance from co-workers, which includes eliminating stand-up meetings during shifts. Instead, business-essential information is shared via white boards near main areas and through conversations with managers or HR team members.
Amazon said it has suspended exit screening to ensure ease of movement near main entrances. The company has also shifted trainings to avoid having employees gather in one spot, and Amazon said it has adjusted our hiring process to encourage social distancing and paused hosting public guests in our buildings. The blog post adds that Amazon is requiring employees and delivery service partners to clean and disinfect their work stations.
“With guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, we've implemented a series of preventative health measures at our sites around the world to help keep our employees, partners and customers safe,” the blog post said.
In a March 16 blog post, Amazon announced it will invest more than $350 million globally to increase by $2 per hour in the US (C$2 in Canada, £2/hr in the UK and approximately €2/hr in many EU countries) for employees and partners who are in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, stores or those making deliveries so that others can remain at home. That post also announced that the company is hiring 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the US in its fulfillment centers and delivery network.
Amazon said that all associates within its operations and delivery network within the US will receive double their regularly hourly base rate of pay for every overtime hour worked in a workweek from March 15 through May 9.