Nearly 20,000 Amazon workers tested positive for COVID-19

Amazon mentioned Thursday that just about 20,000 of its front-line U.S. workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

But the web retail behemoth, revealing the information for the primary time, mentioned that the an infection rate of its workers was nicely under that seen within the common U.S. inhabitants. The disclosure comes after months of stress from Amazon workers and labor teams calling for the corporate to expose the COVID-19 numbers, which up till now the corporate has declined to substantiate.

Amazon mentioned in a company weblog that it offered the information as a part of its effort to maintain workers knowledgeable, and to share particulars and finest practices with governments and different firms.

“We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us,” Amazon mentioned. “This is not an arena where companies should compete — this is an arena where companies should help one another.”

The Seattle-based firm mentioned that it examined information from March 1 to September 19 on 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market throughout the U.S.

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Focus on case charges

Amazon mentioned it in contrast the COVID-19 case charges to the final inhabitants, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the identical interval. Based on that evaluation, if the rate amongst Amazon and Whole Foods workers have been the identical as that for the final inhabitants, it estimated it will have seen 33,952 instances amongst its workforce. That is 42% greater that Amazon’s precise rate.

The firm mentioned it’s conducting 1000’s of checks a day, which is able to develop to 50,000 checks a day throughout 650 websites by November.

Companies haven’t any authorized obligation to publicly reveal what number of of their workers have contracted the virus, and few are doing so.

Employers do have to offer a protected working atmosphere, which implies they need to alert employees if they may have been uncovered to the virus, based on tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal company that enforces office security. They are additionally obligated to maintain monitor of COVID-19 infections contracted on the job, and should report back to OSHA if there’s a hospitalization or demise associated to the illness.

Employment practices underneath scrutiny

Amazon has come underneath scrutiny for its employment practices throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with workers strolling off the job at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse often called JFK8 to attract consideration to what they claimed was foot-dragging on defending workers from an infection. 

Online petitions even have referred to as on the corporate to close warehouses for cleansing after outbreaks of COVID-19 at a few of the retailer’s roughly 500 services within the U.S., together with a warehouse in Hazel Township, Pennsylvania, and a achievement heart in Eastvale, California.

Amazon workers filed a lawsuit June 3 in New York, accusing the e-commerce big of failing to adjust to labor legal guidelines and of counting on “oppressive and dangerous” practices that heighten dangers to workers, even with no pandemic. 

A perceived lack of transparency has left workers at varied retailers, together with Amazon and Walmart, to turn into novice sleuths of their spare time. Unions and advocate teams have taken up the trigger, too, creating lists or constructing on-line maps of shops the place workers can self-report instances they learn about.

In an announcement emailed to The Associated Press Thursday night time, Walmart mentioned that “we believe that Walmart associates’ rate of infection tracks, or is below, the current rate of infection of the general public nationwide.” It did not clarify why it does not present numbers.

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents grocery and meatpacking workers, referred to as Amazon’s disclosure “the most damning evidence we have seen that corporate America has completely failed to protect our country’s front-line workers in this pandemic.”

UFCW is asking for fast motion by federal regulators and a full congressional investigation.

“This titanic safety failure demands the highest level of scrutiny,” Perrone mentioned.


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