How Amazon is handling first COVID-19 case in its fulfillment system, after N.Y. worker tests positive

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Dupont, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon said it is taking proactive measures to protect employees at its fulfillment centers after a worker at a facility in Queens, N.Y., tested positive for COVID-19.

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The first known case of an infected worker at an Amazon warehouse was reported by The Atlantic on Wednesday. Amazon said in a statement that it is supporting the individual, who is now in quarantine.

“Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We have implemented proactive measures to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.”

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The Seattle-based tech giant added that in addition to enhanced daily deep cleaning, the Queens delivery station has been temporarily closed and associates were sent home with full pay.

Amazon has previously said that any employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay.

Under the strain of high demand as more people turn to online shopping during the coronavirus crisis, Amazon is implementing preventative health measures for employees, delivery and transportation partners at sites around the world. They include:

  • Increased frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites.
  • Requiring employees to stay home and seek medical attention if they are feeling unwell.
  • A move to video-based interviews for the majority of candidate interviews.

The company is also adjusting practices to ensure social distancing within its buildings, including:

  • Maintaining a 3-foot separation.
  • No stand-up meetings during shifts. All business essential information is shared via boards near main areas and through conversations with managers, or HR team members.
  • Chairs and tables are spread out in break rooms.
  • Shift start times and break times are being staggered.
  • Training will take place in small formats and with in-app training tools and other equipment.