Amazon announced more than 19,800 of its US employees have contracted COVID-19

Amazon constructing COVID-19 testing lab for employees
Image: Amazon

Amazon announced 19,816 of its U.S. direct and Whole Foods employees tested or presumably tested positive for the coronavirus. The corporation’s disclosure covers data collected from March 1, 2020 to September 19, 2020.

The e-commerce giant also noted it would be able to conduct 50,000 coronavirus tests per day by November.

Amazon and the Coronavirus Pandemic

In early 2020, Amazon saw a massive usage spike for its services in the United States because of the pandemic. As local governments initiated lockdown orders to slow the viral outbreak, consumers increased their grocery and household goods orders. The corporation responded by temporarily adding over 175,000 people to its American workforce to keep up with demand.

The Seattle-based corporation also initiated social distancing, temperature checks, and enhanced cleaning measures at its warehouses and Whole Foods.

In all, Amazon said it introduced over 150 new procedures to protect the health of its staffers. The firm distributed more than 100 million face coverings to its front-line teams and changed its paid time off policies to give coronavirus positive employees more time to recover. The online retailer also pledged to direct $4 billion of its profits to fight COVID-19.

Despite the corporation’s best efforts, almost 20,000 of 1.372 million of its U.S. team members contracted or presumably contracted the aggressive respiratory disease.

That said, Amazon initially predicted the pandemic would affect a much larger portion of its workforce. Using internal information and data from Johns Hopkins University, the firm anticipated 33,952 of its staffers would catch the coronavirus.

Amazon’s Next Steps

In April, Amazon revealed it would establish a laboratory to expand its coronavirus testing capacity.  The company explained it had tasked its researchers, program managers, and procurement specialists to get the facility up and running as quickly as possible. The corporation also hired dozens of lab technicians and other workers to bolster its viral screening program.

Because of that decision, Amazon will conduct 50,000 coronavirus tests daily at 650 locations next month.

Though it did not list hard numbers, the e-commerce company said it spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” on its new health and safety program.

A Positive Development

On the one hand, it is easy to view Amazon’s recent actions through a cynical lens. The firm faced employee walkouts and public criticism for its handling of the coronavirus earlier this year. The company could have revealed its infection rate and testing plans to rehabilitate its image.

In addition, Amazon benefits from maintaining a healthy and, therefore, productive workforce.

On the other hand, the Big Tech giant’s public disclosures and testing ramp up are undeniably positive developments. The company’s decision to publish its coronavirus case data will help researchers better understand the disease and how it spreads.

By enhancing its screening procedures, Amazon will help more people get treatment for a serious medical condition as soon as possible. Moreover, its workers can slow the spread of the pandemic by self-isolating after getting their test results. That could prevent more the general American population from contracting the illness.

Amazon is not perfect, but it deserves credit for stepping up to protect its employees.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here