What Happens If Amazing Gets 'Infected' by Coronavirus?
The company has announced that it plans to hire 100,000 new part-time and full-time employees to work in its warehouses. But are the Amazon locations safe enough to be worth the paycheck?
Amazon has been one of the few beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent economic crisis. As physical stores close, people are cautiously avoiding leaving their homes anyway. Demand for delivered products from Amazon has skyrocketed, along with their shipping prices. The company has announced that it plans to hire 100,000 new part-time and full-time employees to work in its warehouses. But are the Amazon locations safe enough to be worth the paycheck?
Amazon employees at least six different warehouse locations, New York City, Oklahoma City, Kentucky, Florida, Texas and Michigan have tested positive for the coronavirus. The first known case, in New York, was realized one week ago.
That location was temporarily shut down, the man’s coworkers alerted by text message, and Amazon has proceeded to close other facilities that have been affected by the virus. It recommends any employees who have come in contact with individuals who have tested positive to self-quarantine; they will be eligible to receive payment for up to two weeks after the start of their isolation. The company has increased the scheduled cleaning of its warehouses, along with staggering employee shifts in an attempt to conform with social distancing recommendations.
According to an Amazon spokesperson, the company is “following guidelines from local officials, and [is] taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites.”
These assurances haven’t settled every employee, however, despite the announcement this month of a two dollar an hour raise. Over 1,500 Amazon workers (out of 750,000) have signed a petition demanding further steps to ensure health in the workplace.
“We’ve placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled. Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a public letter this past weekend. “It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line. 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.”
Bezos, who is by a large margin the richest man in the world, elaborated on the changes his company is making to meet customer demand and face the coronavirus pandemic head-on. “We’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third-party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies,” he explained. “We’re providing a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable. People are depending on us.”
Hunter DeRensis is a senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.