Nearly 20,000 Amazon and Whole Foods workers got COVID-19, company says

Nearly 20,000 Amazon and Whole Foods workers got COVID-19, company says
Posted at 7:30 AM, Oct 02, 2020

NEW YORK — Amazon says nearly 20,000 of its workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Amazon says in a corporate blog it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 for its 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market.

It said it compared COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as it is for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce.

The company says it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.

In their blog, Amazon said they provide paid quarantine for employees identified as coming into close contact with positive cases. They said in March, an average of roughly 3-to-4 employees needed to quarantine for each positive COVID-19 case.

"Since then, our enhanced social distancing measures and video-based contact tracing across our sites have reduced that number to a fraction of a person being required to quarantine per confirmed case. This means that our employees are at a very low risk of transmission in the workplace," the company's blog stated.

They also called on other major employers to release similar data.

"Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries," Amazon stated, adding that there are no standards for reporting or sharing this data currently.

Companies have no legal obligation to publicly reveal how many of their workers have contracted the virus, and few are doing so.

However, employers must provide a safe working environment, which means they must alert staff if they might have been exposed to the virus, according to guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are obligated to keep track of COVID-19 infections contracted on the job, and must report to OSHA if there is a hospitalization or death related to the disease.

A state-by-state breakdown from Amazon is here.