Two workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Middletown, Delaware, have come down with COVID-19, the company told Business Insider. The confirmation follows an internal leak to the press. "We are supporting the individuals, who are recovering," a company spokesperson said. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
At least two workers at an Amazon warehouse in Delaware have been infected by the novel coronavirus, Business Insider confirmed Tuesday, following a tip from an employee there. Amazon informed workers at its facility in Middletown, Delaware, on April 6 that a person on-site March 22 was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19. Another confirmed case of the disease was discovered on April 7. "We are supporting the individuals, who are recovering," company spokesperson Timothy Carter told Business Insider. "We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site." Dozens of Amazon facilities have now reported cases of COVID-19, but the online retailer has declined repeated requests to furnish a complete list of facilities where cases have been reported. The New York Times reported that at least 50 warehouses have seen cases. On Monday, the company confirmed cases at two separate facilities outside Cleveland, Ohio, after an employee reached out to Business Insider. Last week, Amazon confirmed another case at a warehouse in Indiana now under internal investigation, Amazon said, after Business Insider reported that some managers appeared to be failing to adhere to guidelines on social distancing. The retailer also told Business Insider about an infected worker at a fulfillment center outside Washington, DC, following another tip from an employee who expressed concern for their safety. Business Insider's Hayley Peterson previously reported that Amazon plans to hire 100,000 additional workers to meet delivery demand during the coronavirus pandemic. Many around the world and 97% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, and The Times reported that "orders for Amazon groceries, for example, have been as much as 50 times higher than normal, according to a person with direct knowledge of the business." The company is hiring warehouse employees, delivery drivers, and shoppers. Thousands of employees, who have been deemed essential and are continuing to work while many people stay home, are on the frontlines and working to organize for better pay and benefits, The Times reported. Have a news tip? Email this reporter: email@example.comJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Camel milk can cost $30 a litre. Why is it so expensive?
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An Amazon warehouse worker in New York has died from COVID-19, as first reported by The...An Amazon warehouse worker in New York has died from COVID-19, as first reported by The Verge and confirmed to Business Insider. A spokesperson told Business Insider the company is "deeply saddened by the loss," that it's in the process of notifying coworkers, and that it doesn't believe the case is linked to others in the facility. Workers at the Staten Island location organized multiple strikes in April to protest pandemic working conditions, and the state's attorney general said Amazon's safety response has been "so inadequate" it may have violated workplace safety regulations. Amazon defended its warehouse conditions, saying it has implemented various new health and safety measures and that infection rates in its facilities are lower than rates in the broader community. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. An Amazon employee who worked in the company's warehouse in Staten Island, New York, died from COVID-19, as first reported by The Verge and confirmed to Business Insider. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues," an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider, adding that the company has told his team members individually and is in the process of notifying others who work at the facility. Amazon said the employee was last at work on April 5 and remained in quarantine after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 11. The spokesperson also said Amazon doesn't believe the employee came into contact with any coworkers and that his case is not linked to others at the facility. Workers at the Staten Island warehouse have gone on strike multiple times in the past month, accusing Amazon of failing to take adequate steps to look out for their health and safety during the pandemic. In a letter to Amazon in April, New York's attorney general said the company's safety measures implemented in response have been "so inadequate" that they may violate federal and state workplace safety rules. Amazon has repeatedly defended working conditions its warehouses, with a spokesperson saying the company has taken various steps to protect workers and that COVID-19 infection rates at its Staten Island facility have remained below rates within the broader community. Amazon has refused to share numbers around how many of its employees have gotten sick or how widespread outbreaks have been at different facilities, though an Amazon insider who has been tracking reports of cases in a public post on Reddit claims more than 600 employees across 148 warehouses have been diagnosed with the disease. Amazon reported it had 798,000 employees globally at the end of 2019 and that it hired 100,000 additional workers in March to meet surging demand. As workers have become increasingly vocal, Amazon has been aggressive in its response, firing at least six workers since the pandemic began who have spoken out about working conditions. A leaked memo revealed that Amazon executives discussed mounting a PR campaign against Christian Smalls, a Staten Island worker who had organized a protest over working conditions, calling him "not smart or articulate." Amazon's firings have brought renewed scrutiny from lawmakers and labor regulators, who are seeking more information about whether the company unlawfully retaliated against workers for raising alarms. The company is also facing pushback from its corporate employees, with longtime Amazon engineer and vice president Tim Bray resigning over Amazon's firing of whistleblowers, calling the company's actions "chickenshit" in a blog post. SEE ALSO: Amazon employees say they're scared to go to work, but they're not alone — here are 9 big companies facing worker criticism over their coronavirus safety response Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Over 600 Amazon warehouse workers at 148 facilities could have gotten COVID-19, but total numbers are hard to determine because Amazon hasn't been telling its warehouse workers about all cases, multiple employees say
An Amazon insider has been keeping a list of all the COVID-19 cases at the company's...An Amazon insider has been keeping a list of all the COVID-19 cases at the company's warehouses on a public post on Reddit. As of April 29, the public list tallied over 600 cases at 148 U.S. facilities and two confirmed deaths, with the latest cases reported on Monday, April 28 at least 5 facilities. The list is necessary because warehouse employees have not been told of all the cases they've been exposed to, multiple people tell Business Insider. An Amazon spokesperson says that the company was at first verbally alerting employees who directly worked with affected workers but now it promptly texts all workers at the facility when it learns of new confirmed cases. Some Amazon's warehouse workers remain concerned that they are not being promptly notified. They continue to report new cases to the keeper of this list. "There's no transparency at all," a warehouse worker in New York said about COVID-19 case information. "The first case, we didn't hear about it from management. We heard about it from the workers from that shift." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The first place many Amazon warehouse workers go every morning is Reddit. A list on the site, maintained by an anonymous individual who claims to be an Amazon insider, catalogs every case of COVID-19 confirmed at the company's numerous warehouses. The list has become a vital resource for a group of people on the frontlines of the pandemic— the hourly workers who package goods and ship them to millions of homebound Americans — as they desperately seek up-to-date information about the safety of the facilities they report to everyday. Amazon provides updates to its workers on confirmed COVID-19 cases, but the information has often been slow to get released and spotty, multiple people have confirmed to Business Insider. As of April 30, the Reddit list shows more than 600 cases of coronavirus infections at 148 US Amazon facilities and three confirmed deaths. The list, maintained on a website more often associated with not-safe-for-work content than vital workplace safety data, is the latest example of how the pandemic is reshaping the importance of technology across society and testing the ability of even the most formidable companies to adapt. Amazon has emerged as a critical utility supplying the world with food and other essential items in the pandemic, but at the same time the company has become a target of criticism over reports that its policies and actions are putting its workers at risk. Workers at Amazon warehouses have organized walkouts in recent weeks. And on Friday, a coalition of workers from Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, Target, Instacart, and Whole Foods is going on strike to protest working conditions. Meanwhile, the Reddit list keeps growing with new cases being reported almost daily. An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the company initially shared info on confirmed cases verbally with shift workers, believing that such in-person notifications were more humane. That approach, however well meaning, left many workers saying they were not being informed, and Amazon says it is now texting all employees at an affected facility. "While some companies have cited HIPAA compliance as a reason to not be transparent about the number of confirmed cases in their buildings, we have taken a different approach and are sharing with all employees when a confirmed case occurs in one of our buildings," the Amazon spokesperson said. The keeper of the Reddit list tells Business Insider that much of the information they compile comes from these official texts and other formal communications from the company. But the person says, it also comes from people with direct knowledge of sick workers that don't seem to be included in Amazon's official communications. "I try not to go by hearsay," the list keeper said. "But sadly it seems that Amazon, while they did try to enforce a protocol to notify their employees of cases, there seems to be a thing where some [cases] are going unofficial." Sources tell Business Insider that Amazon is doing a few things that have alarmed warehouse workers. At some warehouses, the company alerted only certain workers of a new case, just the people who share the same shift with the sick person, not the rest of the workers in the facility. Amazon says it has changed this approach and is now alerting everyone. If a warehouse has many cases — some of them have now had dozens — Amazon's texts don't say how many new cases have been reported, so workers don't know the total number of cases at the facility. Workers say that sometimes the text is sent days or weeks after new cases have been confirmed, rolling up all the new cases in one alert. A warehouse worker tells a harrowing tale "What we've heard from workers is that it was taking them often times over a week to be notified of COVID cases. And we heard just last week that they sometimes announce total cases but at the end of people's shifts," fired Amazon tech worker Emily Cunningham told Business Insider. Cunningham is one of the leaders of the employee activist group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) who has been pressing the company over warehouse worker conditions, among other issues. Amazon fired her and another leader of the group, 15-year Amazon veteran Maren Costa, earlier this month for violating Amazon's external communications and no solicitation policies after the company learned the group was organizing an event to support warehouse workers. Cunningham and Costa organized a virtual "sick out" on Friday to support warehouse workers. During that event, one New York warehouse worker who identified himself only as "Mike" told a harrowing first-person account. "There's no transparency at all," Mike said about COVID-19 case information. "The first case, we didn't hear about it from management. We heard about it from the workers from that shift, where that worker got a call, got a positive diagnosis, told management and went home." That first case happened about a month ago, he said. According to Mike, he didn't receive a text alert about that case until after he had already arrived at work. And, he said, workers on the shift that followed his shift were not included in the alert. Workers at that facility organized several walk-outs that shut it down for a few shifts, Mike said. After that, the company promptly texted workers when the second and third confirmed cases emerged. But, when Amazon said nothing about new cases for much of April, Mike cornered a manager demanding an update and was told that the warehouse had five or six cases, he said. "Just yesterday, they sent out another text and said there had been another case," Mike said. "That was the 4th text, the fourth time they actually notified people. But even last night, I talked to people at other shifts and not everyone got that text." When Mike asked the manager about the lack of alerts for each new case, he was told that sometimes the texts represent multiple new cases, he said. Warning texts 'go to only select employees' The Reddit list keeper told Business Insider a similar thing. For instance, the text messages sent to employees at the warehouse in Easton, Pa., known internally as ABE4, stopped including the specific number of cases after the 11th confirmed case, the insider said. "MEM1 had their first and second case verbally confirmed and they didn't see any texts until the 3rd case. HOU2 has at least 19, they also stopped giving a number in their texts. Same with JFK8, LGA9, EWR9, EWR8, BOS5, and MOB5 had their texts only go to select employees instead of the entire FC [fulfillment center]," the list keeper told Business Insider. One relative of an Amazon worker at the Hazel Park, MI, location told Business Insider that the worker had not heard of any cases at that location, but had merely overheard workers talking about a case. The Reddit list says that the facility has confirmed 6 cases through texts, with the latest text sent on April 22. But that facility is rumored to have 12 or more cases because the texts stopped listing the number of cases after the 5th one. Although an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is now alerting every worker at the facility as soon as it hears of a new case, warehouse workers feel distrustful that this is actually happening, one worker said. Enforcing social distancing policies While Amazon is now providing its workers with masks and still has social distancing policies in place, some workers say that not everyone follows them and enforcement of these policies is not uniform. An Amazon spokesperson says the company is doing all it can to ensure social distancing policies are followed and that an employee who violates such policies can be fired. "We have adjusted practices to ensure social distancing is happening throughout the buildings. We are taking intense measures to ensure the health and safety of employees across our sites and recently implemented a new policy: individuals who intentionally violate our social distancing guidelines will receive two warnings – on the second documented offense, termination may occur," the spokesperson says. But there are still loopholes that can be easily sidestepped. While Amazon checks the temperatures of warehouse employees at the start of their shift, the same does not always occur for every driver that visits every facility, according to multiple people. Delivery drivers are often contractors. "We are conducting temperature checks across our US and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores, testing hundreds of thousands of employees daily. If people have a fever, we'll ask them to go home and return to work when they are without fever for at least three days," the spokesperson said. Amazon also has dedicated social distancing enforcement employees roaming the floors with a six-foot stick to measure and remind employees to stay far apart. But Mike, the Amazon worker from the virtual protest, says that, in the last two weeks, as Amazon has hired thousands of new workers, there are times when some facilities get so busy with orders and workers, that they wind up temporarily working closer than six feet together on the packaging lines. Some workers fear their exposure situation will get worse before it gets better because on May 1, Amazon is ending its policy of allowing unlimited, unpaid time off. "Unlimited and paid time off is ending," says Costa. "Amazon is always saying what they're doing. But the measures put in place are not consistently enforced. I get emotional. It bothers me the way warehouse workers are treated by the company." The spokesperson said that even though the blanket policy of time off is ending, employees may still qualify for unpaid, or paid, time off on a doctor mandated quarantine, on a case-by-case basis. Are you an Amazon insider with insight to share? Contact Julie Bort via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on encrypted chat app Signal at (970) 430-6112 (no PR inquiries, please). Open DMs on Twitter @Julie188. Now read: Airbnb has postponed new grad hires until August 2021 but is giving them 10% of their offered salary right now — even if they turn down the job For the first time, customers can't — or won't — pay their cloud software bills, which could forever change the once-reliable subscription model A 'nanofiber' mask fabric manufactured in Oklahoma filters 9 times as many tiny, potentially dangerous particles as a bandana, independent tests show. Here's how you can buy it. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
Amazon has stopped shipping or receiving heavy products that need 2 people to move at warehouses in Canada and Europe to limit worker contact — read the note it sent to sellers (AMZN)
Amazon told sellers in Canada this week that it would temporarily stop shipping and receiving bulky...Amazon told sellers in Canada this week that it would temporarily stop shipping and receiving bulky products that require two people to carry — or that weigh between 49 lbs and 99 lbs. The move is to reduce close contact among warehouse employees and to "protect the well-being and safety of our employees," Amazon said in the note to sellers. The new rules only apply to warehouses in the Canadian and European regions, as the US warehouses have special equipment that allow shipment of those products without close contact, Amazon's spokesperson said. The change comes at a time when Amazon warehouse workers are calling for safer work conditions, staging walkouts across multiple facilities across the country. For sellers, it's another restriction they have to deal with, coming a month after Amazon said it would stop accepting non-essential products at its warehouses, a policy that started loosening last week. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Amazon has stopped shipping and receiving heavy products that require two people to move in and out of its warehouses in the Canadian and European markets, as it looks to reduce close contact among its warehouse workers amid the coronavirus outbreak. In a note sent to sellers in Canada this week, seen by Business Insider, Amazon said it would no longer receive or ship bulky products in and out of its warehouses if they "require two people to pick, pack or ship." The new restrictions, applying to products weighing between 49 lbs and 99 lbs (22.2 kg to 44.9 kg), are intended to "protect the well-being and safety of our employees" and adhere to social distancing guidelines set by local health authorities, the note said. A similar note was sent to European sellers a few weeks ago. "We understand that this is a change to your business, and we appreciate your understanding as we take steps to protect the well-being of our employees," the note said. Amazon's US-based warehouses, however, won't have the same restrictions because its warehouses in the region have special equipment and machinery that can handle bulky items without close contact among its employees, Amazon's spokesperson said. The company is still enforcing the ban of two-person lifts at its warehouses in the US. "We continue to make every effort to help sellers get their products to customers who need them," Amazon's spokesperson said in a statement. "We are waiving monthly storage fees for affected products." The change doesn't mean shoppers can no longer purchase bulky items, like furniture and electronics on Amazon. Sellers using their own storage facilities or third-party logistics services are still able to ship and restock those products. John Ghiorso, CEO of Orca Pacific, an agency that helps Amazon sellers, said that the new restrictions on heavy items show the difficulty in keeping a balance between worker safety and product selection as the coronavirus outbreak brought unexpected changes to its supply chain. "It represents Amazon's continued efforts to balance the health of their employees and their ability to get products to customers," he said. "It's a line they will need to walk for months to come." The new policy is the latest in a series of moves Amazon has made in its warehouses worldwide, as it grapples with growing safety concerns for its workers that pack and ship its packages every day. More than 70 Amazon facilities are reported to have at least one infected employee, and last week, Business Insider reported the first confirmed case of death of an Amazon employee from coronavirus disease. Amazon previously said it doesn't keep track of the exact number of infected employees. Groups of warehouse workers have called out Amazon's loose workplace safety measures over the past month, staging multiple protests across the country. Just this week, more than 300 warehouse workers pledged to call off work, according to the nonprofit United for Respect. In an email to Business Insider, Amazon's spokesperson said the reports of employee protests have been "grossly exaggerated," saying more than 250,000 people came to work on Tuesday. The spokesperson said ensuring the health and safety of Amazon employees is "our top concern." "We encourage anyone to compare the health and safety measures Amazon has taken, and the speed of their implementation, during this crisis with other retailers," the spokesperson said. Amazon has made dozens of policy changes to ensure the safety of its warehouse workers during the pandemic. Earlier this month, it announced it would provide face masks and regular temperature checks to its workforce. It's also started disinfectant spraying and enhanced cleaning procedures across its facilities. Meanwhile, workers are getting an increase in their regular and overtime pay throughout April and unlimited unpaid time off if they feel sick. For the sellers that use Amazon warehouses to store and ship their products, this week's change is just one more restriction. Last month, Amazon stopped accepting non-essential products at its warehouses to prioritize high-demand products, like medical supplies and household staples. Although Amazon loosened those restrictions last week, multiple sellers told Business Insider that they're still only able to ship in very limited quantities of non-essential products. Here's the full note sent to sellers this week: Hello from Amazon, In order to protect the well-being and safety of our employees, and to ensure our continued adherence to guidance from local health authorities regarding social distancing, we are temporarily limiting receiving, restocking, and shipping for products that require two people to pick, pack or ship. This applies to parcels and individual products weighing between 49 lbs and 99 lbs (22.2 kg - 44.9 kg). For products and parcels already on their way to our fulfillment centers and that are between 49 lbs and 99 lbs (22.2 kg - 44.9 kg), we will make every effort to receive these products while adhering to guidance from health authorities. This includes using mechanical means to receive and process the order. Any shipment rejected will be sent back; however we expect these cases will be limited. If you have already created a shipment for products weighing between 49 lbs and 99 lbs (22.2 kg - 44.9 kg) and it has not already been shipped, please cancel the shipment. For products weighing under 49 lbs (22.2 kg), please limit your total parcel weight to 49 lbs (22.2 kg). Please note that Amazon (including our Support Associates) does not have further information to share on limitations of products weighing between 49 lbs and 99 lbs. We understand that this is a change to your business, and we appreciate your understanding as we take steps to protect the well-being of our employees. Thank you for your patience, Amazon teamSEE ALSO: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' annual shareholder letter, once an insightful must-read, has turned cautious and promotional as the company faces more scrutiny Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak