April 13—Amazon revealed it is building a laboratory to test its employees for COVID-19 infection in a blog post published last week. The firm explained it is taking action because testing for the disease is not widely available, and a vaccine has yet to be released.
The e-commerce giant also announced plans to hire 75,000 new logistics staffers to meet increased demand generated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Amazon’s COVID-19 Testing Lab
Although Amazon noted it has introduced 150 process changes at its facilities to clamp down on COVID-19, the outbreak has had a significant impact on its operations.
As of this writing, more than 50 of the corporation’s sites have reported confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. The company’s Pennsylvania facility employs 21 workers who tested positive for the severe respiratory disease. As a result, the conglomerate’s frontline workers have grown increasingly anxious about coming to work. Notably, staffers at Amazon’s Illinois, Michigan, and New York warehouses have staged walkouts to motivate the company to deep clean their workplaces.
As a result, Amazon is stepping up its COVID-19 response by building a new employee testing facility. The company noted it has re-tasked research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists, and software engineers to work on the project. The corporation also stated while it does not have the timeframe for bringing the facility online, it has already assembled equipment for its lab and hopes to begin medical evaluations soon.
Earlier this month, Amazon said it would institute new health and safety measures at its warehouses and Whole Foods locations. The company’s efforts included distributing face coverings to all team members, conducting temperature checks at its logistics facilities, and remotely monitoring employees to ensure their compliance with its social distancing policies.
Amazon’s Second Hiring Spree
Last month, Amazon announced its intent to hire 100,000 logistics staffers to bolster its U.S. delivery infrastructure. Because of statewide stay-at-home orders, Americans have increasingly relied upon the company to get their groceries and essential household items. Despite employing over 250,000 U.S. residents, the company significantly expanded its delivery personnel headcount to maintain continuity of service.
However, Amazon revealed it needs more operational support and wants to take on 75,000 more frontline workers. Moreover, the firm said it expects the cost of its two hiring drives to exceed $500 million. In March, the company said adding 100,000 employees to its ranks, as well as raising warehouse staffer wages by $2 an hour, would cost $350 million.
Notably, Amazon took steps to optimize its operational efficiency before initiating another hiring spree.
On March 17, the firm told its third-party sellers it would temporarily prioritize the stocking and shipment of essential goods. On March 26, the company announced it would increase the delivery capacity of its Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh stores. The corporation even delayed its annual Prime Day sale to give itself more breathing room.
However, Amazon’s decision to build a coronavirus testing lab and expand its U.S. logistics workforce from 250,000 to 425,000 in two months suggests COVID-19’s impact on its operations hasn’t abated. Hopefully, nationwide efforts to flatten the curve will allow the American people and its largest corporations to get back to normal sooner rather than later.