Amazon warehouses are getting hit with coronavirus cases

A person working in Amazon's Staten Island, New York, fulfillment center tested positive for the new coronavirus, told online store giant CNN Business late Tuesday. The person, who was last physically at work on March 11, is quarantined and is recovering, Amazon said.

That case marks the second one affecting Amazon stores in New York. It comes a week after the first reported case at any US Amazon facility, i Queens, NY. The company also confirmed a case at a plant in Joliet, Illinois, Wednesday afternoon. Other positive cases have been reported at Amazon sites 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 site, but has largely refrained from mass closures. The company told CNN that it is taking "extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees on our site[s]. "

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This includes regular disinfection of door handles, elevator buttons, cabinets and touch screens, Amazon said, in addition to staggering shifts and the spread of chairs in break rooms.

The spread of the virus in Amazon's massive logistics operation can only heighten concern among workers who previously told CNN Business they felt that Amazon should do more to protect hundreds of thousands in US warehouses.
Amazon warehouse workers fear catching coronavirus just to get you your packages

The additional cases also threaten to disrupt shipments and delay deliveries, although millions of Americans become more dependent on service when asked to leave their homes as little as possible. The company already warns website visitors about longer delivery times, and encourages customers to choose free 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 in early May.

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Amazon is witnessing spikes in demand comparable to the surge around high holiday periods like Black Friday, Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president for global business affairs, told CNN's Poppy Harlow in an interview last week. In response, the company is hiring.

"We increase employment by 100,000 in the way we do during seasonal periods like the holidays, when we need extra workers," Carney said.

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Prior to the dramatic rise in confirmed cases across the United States, Amazon represented as much as 39% of the e-commerce industry, according to the research firm eMarketer. Now, that number may rise even higher as Americans stop visiting brick-and-mortar stores.
It increases the burden on Amazon workers themselves, some of whom have accused the company of "reckless endangerment" to employees by not giving them paid leave. Earlier this week there were workers in the Chicago area said they succeeded in requesting for paid leave, in a policy update that affects part-time and seasonal Amazon workers across the country, but is still struggling to get that leave separately from sick leave.

A worker at the Staten Island plant told CNN Business Wednesday morning that despite confirming the positive case against the media, Amazon had not notified on-site workers via email, text message, call or update in the company's employee app – something that pointed to a lack of internal transparency.

"I realize we are all in unfamiliar territory, but yes, I would have loved to learn about the infected person from Amazon's HR department and not from Reddit or Vice," the worker said.

An Amazon spokeswoman told CNN Business, "We communicated verbally to employees in socially distanced small group meetings." The spokesperson has not yet answered a follow-up question about how the company had communicated with employees who had not yet reached the next shift.

workers previously told CNN Business that Amazon's social distance policy is unrealistic in store, where tight conditions in the locker rooms force employees to "walk sideways" to pass each other.

Rina Cummings, a worker at the Staten Island plant, told CNN Business she felt a lack of control over the situation, saying that few wash their hands and that "no one really comes around to ask people if they are okay, if they & # 39; I feel like they're not as proactive as they should be. "

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This month, Amazon said so All quarantined employees will receive two weeks 'pay, and 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 created.
In a internal note posted to Amazon's corporate blog dated Saturday, CEO Jeff Bezos said the company has placed orders for "millions of face masks" intended for employees and contractors.

"Masks are still in short supply globally and are currently being led by governments to facilities with the highest needs such as hospitals and clinics," he said. "When our turn into masks comes, our first priority will be to get them into the hands of our employees and partners who work to bring important products to people."

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Currently, this means that Amazon warehouses and delivery people are still some of the most vulnerable, working on the front lines of the crisis in hopes of earning a pay cut and ensuring that households can continue to have soap and paper towels delivered to the door.

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