Friday, 2 October 2020

More than 19,800 Amazon employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, company reveals

 Nearly 20,000 Amazon employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March, the company has revealed. 

The e-commerce giant disclosed the data for the first time on its blog on Thursday, following months of pressure from workers and labor groups to publicly release the figures. 

Amazon said 19,816 of its 1.37million workers, have contracted the virus - a rate of 1.4 per cent. 

Amazon on Thursday revealed 19,816 of its employees have tested positive since March

Amazon on Thursday revealed 19,816 of its employees have tested positive since March

The company analyzed data on 1.37million workers at the e-commerce site and Whole Foods Market across the US from March 1 to September 19

The company analyzed data on 1.37million workers at the e-commerce site and Whole Foods Market across the US from March 1 to September 19

The company said the rate of infection was 42 per cent lower than expected when considering the virus' spread in the general population. 

The Seattle-based company said that it examined data from March 1 to September 19 on 1.37million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market across the US. 

It then compared the COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period.  

Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as that for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce. That is 42 per cent higher that Amazon's actual rate. 


'We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us,' Amazon said. 'This is not an arena where companies should compete - this is an arena where companies should help one another.'
The corporate blog post said the company provided the data as part of its effort to keep employees informed, and to share details and best practices with governments and other companies.

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The company also said it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.

Companies have no legal obligation to publicly reveal how many of their workers have contracted the virus, and few are doing so.

Employers do have to provide a safe working environment, which means they must alert staff if they might have been exposed to the virus, according to guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that enforces workplace safety. 

They are also obligated to keep track of COVID-19 infections contracted on the job, and must report to OSHA if there is a hospitalization or death related to the disease.


A perceived lack of transparency has left workers at various retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, to become amateur sleuths in their spare time. 

Unions and advocate groups have taken up the cause, too, creating lists or building online maps of stores where workers can self-report cases they know about.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press Thursday night, Walmart said that 'we believe that Walmart associates' rate of infection tracks, or is below, the current rate of infection of the general public nationwide.' 

It didn't explain why it doesn't provide numbers.

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