The coronavirus outbreak in the United States has spread to at least six Amazon warehouses, infecting employees working to deliver massive volumes of packages for consumers worried about leaving their homes to shop.
In the past few days, Amazon workers tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus, in New York City; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; Jacksonville, Florida; Katy, Texas; Brownstown, Michigan; and Oklahoma City, according to Fox Business and Amazon.
In some cases, Amazon shut down facilities for cleaning, and some co-workers who were in close contact with their infected colleagues have been quarantined.
More than 1,500 Amazon workers from around the world have signed a petition that calls on the company to take additional steps to ensure safety in the workplace.
Some Amazon employees complained that the company pushes them to meet the per-hour rate at which it wants orders fulfilled, a practice that employees worry discourages safe sanitary practices like washing hands after a cough or sneeze. Others have complained about “stand-up” meetings, where workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the start of each shift.
“We are supporting the individuals, following guidelines from local officials, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites,” Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski said in a statement.
The company has recently adopted new policies for its warehouses including more regularly cleaning door handles, stairway handrails, touch screens and more, Levandowski said.
Amazon has more than 175 warehouses around the globe, with over 110 of those being in North America. Levandowski declined to say if workers at any other Amazon facility have tested positive for COVID-19.