Workers In 14 Amazon Warehouses Test Positive For Coronavirus

by Julie Scagell
Sebastian Kahnert/Getty Images

The virus is impacting 14 of Amazon’s locations prompting concern for workers and customers

As more and more people practice social distancing and look to order from companies like Amazon for essential goods, the company announced that 14 of its locations have employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

In recent days, warehouse workers at two separate sites in New York City (Staten Island and Queens), and workers in Jacksonville, Fla.; Oklahoma City; Brownstown, Mich.; Katy, Tex.; Wallingford, Conn.; and Shepherdsville, Ky., have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Amazon officials. Yesterday, four additional locations in Houston; Edison, New Jersey; Romulus, Michigan; and Shelby Township, Michigan were reported. Amazon operates over 110 warehouses in the US.

Not only is this a problem that could impact deliveries for customers, but lawmakers are calling for additional safety measures for employees who are showing up to work every day in the midst of this pandemic. Amazon responded to claims it wasn’t putting the health and safety of its workers as a number one priority.

“The safety and well-being of Amazon’s employees must be paramount, and given the nature and scope of Amazon’s business, the safety and well-being of the millions of Americans who are Amazon customers are also at stake,” Kristin Lynch, a spokeswoman for Cory Booker, said. Others like Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar echoed their concern.

“Any accusations that we are not properly protecting our employees are simply unfounded,” Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items that they need in this crisis.” Amazon has announced recently they plan to hire another 100,000 workers to keep up with the increased demand.

On Monday, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, also sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to discuss specific recommendations for customers who may be concerned about receiving packages from Amazon. One recommendation is to wipe down all packages with a disinfectant. The second (if it contains non-perishable items) is to leave the packages outside for longer than the virus can survive, which is believed to be 24 hours on cardboard. Customers should also open packages outside and throw the boxes away immediately.

The retail giant also stated that it has increased how often its warehouses are being cleaned and changed some of its internal practices to ensure social distancing, like staggering shifts and break times. Some facilities that have reported coronavirus cases have been shut down for deep cleaning and others asked to self-quarantine if they were in contact with someone who has been infected. The company is also giving all of its workers in quarantine two weeks’ paid leave.