Jeff Bezos is wealthier by $24 billion in 2020, as Amazon reports at least 74 COVID-19 US warehouse cases and its first death

insider@insider.com (Isobel Asher Hamilton)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is richer to the tune of $23 billion in 2020, cementing his position as the world's wealthiest person.
  • Amazon has seen a massive surge in demand during the last four months, due to the coronavirus pandemic leading to people staying home and switching to online shopping.
  • The $1 trillion company has hired thousands more staff to deal with demand, but has struggled to keep the virus out of its warehouses. 
  • Many Amazon workers have voiced concerns about their safety, and this week Business Insider confirmed the first death of a warehouse worker from COVID-19.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Amazon has scrambled to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, CEO and world's richest person Jeff Bezos has seen a $23.6 billion boost to his personal finances.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos is one of the few billionaires to have seen an increase to his net worth since the beginning of 2020.

Bezos' wealth has increased by roughly 20% over the last four months to $138 billion in April. 

Amazon has experienced increased customer demand as the coronavirus keeps people indoors, on lockdown, and on their devices.

Demand has reportedly soared to match that of peak holiday season, and one analyst forecast a sales increase of 23% for the first three months of 2020. The retail giant also announced this week it will to resume shipping non-essential items into its warehouses, a practice it temporarily paused after demand for medical and household items skyrocketed.

Amazon's stock price hit an all-time high on Tuesday, closing at $2,283.32 and lifting its market cap to $1.14 trillion.

Amazon wants an additional 175,000 workers to meet demand but staff say they don't feel protected

The huge surge in demand has put significant strain on Amazon's army of warehouse workers, who now find themselves on the frontlines and packed into warehouses where COVID-19 can easily spread.

Amazon has hired 100,000 extra US workers to cope with demand, and is looking to hire a further 75,000.

But more than 74 US warehouses alone have now reported cases of the virus, and concerns from workers about safety and sanitation have ballooned, leading to employee walkouts and protests. 

On Tuesday, Business Insider broke the news that Amazon had seen its first warehouse worker death, an operations manager who worked at the company's Hawthorne, California warehouse. The man died on March 31.

Amazon has brought in various measures inside its warehouses including a 6-foot distancing rule, supplying cleaning materials and hand wipes for workers, and introducing temperature checks.

Multiple Amazon warehouse workers have told Business Insider they still do not feel safe going into work, saying social-distancing measures are impossible inside the warehouses and sanitary supplies frequently run out.

"I am feeling like I'm forced to make a decision whether I have to go to work or pay my bills," one worker told Business Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider