BREAKING NEWS Woman killed as she was walking across Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford Full Story

Amazon warehouses are getting hit with coronavirus cases

Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least 11 facilities hit so far, according to Amazon and local media...

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 6:14 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2020 9:45 AM

Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least 11 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. The company also confirmed a case at a facility in Joliet, Ill. and at an Edison, NJ facility Wednesday. 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.

Rina 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.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1323312

Reported Deaths: 42134
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens1651787958
Kings1622028176
Suffolk1340572677
Nassau1199332604
Bronx1105945327
Westchester884041836
New York791053490
Erie540971409
Richmond468611405
Monroe45706816
Rockland32948821
Orange30012661
Onondaga28797547
Dutchess17623336
Oneida17540369
Albany17287270
Niagara12718253
Broome11804270
Saratoga984289
Schenectady9131137
Ulster8129200
Rensselaer7349110
Putnam682476
Chautauqua594772
Chemung5782111
Oswego512375
Ontario490483
Steuben4740132
Cayuga465575
Sullivan399451
St. Lawrence393864
Herkimer389670
Wayne384556
Genesee3834102
Cattaraugus358162
Jefferson347629
Madison328876
Livingston284442
Tompkins281125
Cortland273855
Columbia269374
Allegany244275
Montgomery240078
Clinton236018
Tioga231354
Wyoming230344
Fulton229156
Warren224542
Greene217863
Orleans202471
Chenango188845
Otsego184324
Washington164427
Lewis161325
Seneca129847
Franklin12979
Delaware110027
Essex102521
Schoharie9606
Yates87522
Schuyler75110
Hamilton1611
Unassigned71110
Out of NY0168
Rome
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: -4°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
13° wxIcon
Hi: 21° Lo: 6°
Feels Like: -2°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 2°
Feels Like: -4°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
wxIcon
Hi: 13° Lo: -9°
Feels Like: -4°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
2021 Golfer's Paradise Card - 21 Courses for only $99.99
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve