Amazon confirmed its first case of COVID-19 at a U.S. warehouse back in March 2020 when the pandemic was just starting to take hold in the country. Since then, it won’t surprise you to learn that many more workers at the company have contracted the illness.
The e-commerce giant said on Thursday that after a “thorough analysis” of data on all 1,372,000 front-line Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees throughout the U.S., employed at any time between March and September, 19,816 employees (excluding delivery drivers) have tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus.
As part of an effort to offer more transparency about how the pandemic is impacting its workforce following widespread criticism regarding its handling of the situation, the company also posted a state-by-state chart showing case rates among its front-line employees, together with information on its methodology and data sources.
For locations where data is available, Minnesota came out worst with 31.7 COVID cases per 1,000 Amazon workers — a state where virus-related company practices came in for heavy criticism in June. Florida places second with 24.9 cases per 1,000 workers.
The lowest rates were in Amazon’s home state of Washington with 5.8 cases per 1,000 workers, and neighboring Oregon with 5.9 cases per 1,000 workers.
Amazon said its data showed that the rate of infection among its workers was 42% lower than expected when compared with the infection rate in America’s general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. It added that it would have expected to have seen a total of 33,952 cases if the infection rates were in line with the community rate.
When asked about worker deaths related to COVID-19, Amazon told Digital Trends that it was “not releasing additional information other than what was in the blog post.”
Early on in the pandemic, there was much disquiet among Amazon warehouse workers who complained that the company wasn’t doing enough to protect them from infection.
Amazon said this week that employees are now “regularly” screened for the coronavirus, “regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, in order to identify asymptomatic cases.”
It was also keen to point out that even in the event of someone testing positive, it “does not mean someone became infected as a result of their employment with Amazon — these individuals can be exposed in many ways outside of work.”
Amazon, which has seen a big uptick in business since the pandemic took hold, started rolling out measures to protect its warehouse workers earlier this year. But following an outcry from workers regarding perceived failures in the safety improvements, an Amazon executive admitted that “there may be instances where we don’t get it perfect.”
In the months since, the online shopping firm has been continuing with efforts to improve the situation.
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