NATIONAL NEWS

Amazon Warehouses Are Getting Hit With Coronavirus Cases

Mar 25, 2020, 1:31 PM
Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least nine facilities hit ...
Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least nine facilities hit so far, according to Amazon and local media reports. Orders move down a conveyor belt at the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City, on February 5, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
(Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least nine facilities hit so far, according to Amazon and local media reports.

One person who works in Amazon’s Staten Island, New York, fulfillment center tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the online retail giant told CNN Business late Tuesday. The person, who was last at work physically on March 11, is in quarantine and recovering, Amazon said.

That case marks the second to affect Amazon warehouses in New York. It comes a week after the first reported case at any US Amazon facility, in Queens, NY. Other positive cases have been reported at Amazon facilities in Moreno Valley, Calif.Jacksonville, Fla.Shepherdsville, Ky.Brownstown, Mich.Oklahoma City, Okla.Katy, Texas; and Wallingford, Conn.

Amazon has temporarily closed some sites, such as the Queens location, but has largely refrained from mass closures. The company told CNN that it is taking “extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site[s].”

That includes regularly sanitizing door handles, elevator buttons, lockers and touch screens, Amazon said, as well as staggering shifts and spreading out chairs in break rooms.

The spread of the virus within Amazon’s massive logistics operation may only add to the anxiety among workers who previously told CNN Business they felt Amazon should be doing more to protect the hundreds of thousands in its warehouse facilities across the US.

The additional cases also threaten to disrupt shipments and delay deliveries even as millions of Americans are becoming more reliant on the service as they are told to leave their homes as little as possible. The company is already warning visitors to its website of longer delivery times, and encouraging customers to select no-rush shipping if their needs are not urgent.

A CNN Business review of Amazon’s website Wednesday morning showed delivery dates in mid-April for Amazon’s white-label toilet paper. Digital thermometers, the site said, could be delivered by early May.

Amazon is witnessing spikes in demand that are comparable to the surge surrounding peak holiday periods such as Black Friday, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview last week. In response, the company is ramping up hiring.

“We’re boosting employment by 100,000 in the way that we do for seasonal periods like the holiday, when we need extra workers,” Carney said.

Before the dramatic rise in confirmed cases across the United States, Amazon represented a whopping 39% of the e-commerce industry, according to research firm eMarketer. Now that figure could rise even higher as Americans stop visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

That’s put increasing strain on Amazon workers themselves, some of whom have accused the company of “recklessly endangering” employees by not granting them paid time off. Earlier this week, Chicago-area warehouse workers said they successfully petitioned for paid time off, in a policy update affecting part-time and seasonal Amazon workers nationwide, but are still fighting to have that leave count separately from sick leave.

One worker at the Staten Island facility told CNN Business Wednesday morning that despite confirming the positive case to the media, Amazon had not notified workers at the site through email, text message, call or update in the company’s employee app — pointing to a lack of internal transparency.

“I realize we’re all in uncharted territory but yes, I would have appreciated learning about the infected person from Amazon’s HR Dept. and not from Reddit or Vice,” the worker said.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business, “We communicated to the employees verbally in socially distanced small group meetings.” The spokesperson has not yet responded to a follow-up question about how the company had communicated with employees who’d yet to come in for their next shift.

Workers previously told CNN Business that Amazon’s social distancing policies are unrealistic in warehouses, where tight conditions in locker areas force employees to “walk sideways” to pass one another.

Rita Cummings, a worker at the Staten Island facility, told CNN Business she felt a lack of control about the situation, saying few are washing their hands and that “nobody is really coming around to ask people if they’re OK, if they’re feeling sick. I feel like they’re not as proactive as they should be.”

This month, Amazon said all employees placed in quarantine would receive two weeks’ pay, and that Amazon contractors who tested positive for the virus could apply for up to two weeks’ pay from a $25 million relief fund the company has established.

In an internal memo posted to Amazon’s corporate blog dated Saturday, CEO Jeff Bezos said the company has placed orders for “millions of face masks” meant for employees and contractors.

“Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics,” he said. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.”

For now that means Amazon warehouse workers and delivery people remain some of the most exposed, working on the front lines of the crisis in hopes of earning a paycheck and ensuring households can continue to get soap and paper towels delivered to their door.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

The American destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (Pearl Harbor)...
Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press

Hawaii remembrance to draw handful of Pearl Harbor survivors

A handful of centenarian survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor are expected to gather at the scene in Hawaii to commemorate those who perished 81 years ago in the Japanese bombing.
9 hours ago
Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) answers questions from the med...
BILL BARROW and JEFF AMY, Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Warnock wins Georgia runoff against Walker

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia.
1 day ago
Four University of Idaho students were found dead Nov. 13 at this three-story home on King Road in ...
Veronica Miracle, Stella Chan and Jason Hanna, CNN

Investigators have quality leads in the killings of 4 students, police say

Investigators have "a lot of quality leads" about last month's killings of four University of Idaho students in an off-campus house police said.
1 day ago
District of Columbia Police Chief Robert Contee looks on as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) passe...
MARY CLARE JALONICK, FARNOUSH AMIRI and LISA MASCARO, Associated Press

Jan. 6 ‘heroes’ honored for defending Capitol from Trump mob

Top House and Senate leaders have bestowed Congress' highest honor on law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
1 day ago
The U.S. flag flies at half staff over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC on May 12, 2022 ...
Madison Swenson

Gov. Cox orders flags lowered for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has ordered all flags be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday as part of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
1 day ago
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Legacy Sports USA on October 09, 2...
MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press

Trump Organization convicted in executive tax dodge scheme

Donald Trump’s company was convicted of tax fraud on Tuesday in a case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Amazon Warehouses Are Getting Hit With Coronavirus Cases