Amazon has released a blog post confirming that 20,000 of its workers have contracted COVID-19, with the company facing criticism for keeping its warehouses open and potentially spreading the virus within its staff.
The news comes after Amazon last week released a blog post updating the public on its COVID-19 testing procedures. In the post, Amazon said that 19,816 of its staff had tested positive or “presumed positive” for COVID-19. Amazon has previously said that at least ten of its workers have died since the beginning of the pandemic from COVID-19, but did not update this figure with its latest release.
The company says that this is just 1.44% of its total 1.3 million staff across the Amazon and Whole Foods line up between March 1 and September 19. Amazon says that this is 42% lower than it originally expected when comparing infections to that of the “general population rate” released by the Johns Hopkins University.
If Amazon’s infection rate was the same as the general population rate of infection, the company would have had around 34,000 infections.
According to a report from CNBC, “Amazon previously declined to share the data, saying it would be misleading and lacked context.” Upon sharing the data, Amazon said that “wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries.”
It says the company is testing tens of thousands of its staff each day, and hopes to grow its testing infrastructure to 50,000 tests per day across its 650 facilities by November, 2020. Amazon has stated previously that it intends to invest a significant portion of its $4 billion fourth-quarter profits into its COVID-19 strategy for the prevention, cleaning and testing of the virus.
A report from The Verge interviews an Amazon warehouse worker from Indianapolis, Indiana who says that “cleaning has been uneven and that the site has been too crowded for appropriate social distancing in May.” This is in addition to “three warehouse workers that sued the company in June, claiming that working conditions put them at risk of COVID-19 infection.”
Amazon concluded its blog post by stating that “this information would be more powerful if there were similar data from other major employers to compare it to.”
“Unfortunately, there are no standards for reporting or sharing this data, and there’s very little comparable information about infection rates and quarantine rates available from other companies.” The company ended the post by saying that “we hope sharing this data and our learnings will encourage others to follow, and will prove useful as states make decisions about reopening public facilities and employers consider whether and how to bring people back to work.”