6 Amazon warehouses have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with employees saying the company isn't doing enough to protect their safety

cdavis@insider.com (Charles Davis)
Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos at an event about Blue Origin's space exploration plans in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019.

Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

  • Workers in six Amazon warehouses in the US have tested positive for coronavirus. The latest was in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • A worker at a nearby facility told Business Insider that "Amazon, like Trump, was slow to respond, vague with the truth, and values dollars over lives."
  • Another Amazon employee told Business Insider that they continue to ship non-essential items, such as prom dresses and expensive watches.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Workers at six Amazon warehouses across the US have contracted the novel coronavirus, with the latest report of a positive test coming on Tuesday at a fulfilment center in Jacksonville, Florida.

US employees have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at warehouses in Florida, Michigan, New York, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas, The Washington Post reported.

A worker at a different Amazon fulfilment center in Jacksonville told Business Insider that whispers of a positive COVID-19 test spread through their facility early on Tuesday. The company itself never made a formal announcement.

"Communication is very, very poor," the source said, requesting anonymity out of fear of losing their job. "A lot of unhappy employees," they continued, adding that "Amazon, like Trump, was slow to respond, vague with the truth, and values dollars over lives."

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is "supporting the individuals, following guidelines from local officials," and that it is "taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites." Business Insider asked for additional comments on specific employee complaints and will update as necessary.

The first report of a positive COVID-19 test at an Amazon warehouse came on March 18. In that case, workers at a fulfilment center in Queens received a text informing them of the result, The Atlantic reported.

An employee at the Queens facility, requesting anonymity, told Business Insider that the company has now stopped holding "stand up" meetings at the beginning shifts. Workers had complained that the meetings required them to congregate shoulder to shoulder, in violation of guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control. It has also suspended its per-hour targets for order fulfilment at that warehouse.

That employee also sent Business Insider a photo from their break room which indicates that, at least in one warehouse, employees are being instructed to remain three feet apart, not six, per the CDC. The recommendations are in line with the Word Health Organization's recommendation to "Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing."

A poster at an Amazon warehouse in Queens, New York.

Anonymous

And while online shopping has helped many Americans avoid the risk of crowds, the employee said Amazon's claim that it's only shipping vital goods — which would allow for greater social distancing at its own warehouses — isn't borne out by their experience.

"I wouldn't call a prom dress or a Rolex 'essential items,'" they told Business Insider.

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