Exclusive: Amazon in touch with coronavirus test manufacturers for potential employee screenings

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc has been in touch with the CEOs of two coronavirus test manufacturers to think about how to screen staff and reduce the risk of infection in its warehouses, according to internal meeting notes consulted by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Worker wearing face mask walks in trucks parked at Amazon facility as global coronavirus epidemic continues at Bethpage on Long Island in New York, United States, March 17, 2020 REUTERS / Andrew Kelly / File Photo

The chief executives of Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc have told Amazon they would like to work with the e-commerce company, although the US government is currently using all of its testing capabilities, the notes said.

The company also discussed the possibility of launching such tests in at least one warehouse near its Seattle headquarters, whose status was unclear. The nature of Amazon’s conversations with testers and the exact assistance they could offer was unclear.

The document says separately that Amazon is investigating the possibility of testing more than one person for the virus at the same time, and that it also wants to partner with a medical organization in its testing efforts. He did not give more details about the tests to several people nor did he name a partner.

In a statement released on Saturday, Abbott Laboratories confirmed that it had been contacted by Amazon and other companies to provide workforce testing.

“We know it is important for many industries that their workforce is secure, but as we said, right now, we have prioritized front-line workers in hot spots epidemics and have been working with the White House Task Force, FDA, FEMA and CDC and state officials must ensure that they travel to these areas, “said an Abbott spokesperson. .

Thermo Fisher did not return a request for comment on Friday evening. Amazon declined to comment.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is rolling out face masks and temperature controls for workers at all of its US and European warehouses by next week.

In the longer term, however, he wants to test workers for the virus and hopes other companies will follow suit, according to the notes, in which Amazon’s general counsel also criticized an employee who was laid off on Monday.

The notes reveal how focused the company is on coronavirus testing that is important to its operations and to supporting the US economy. They also show how Amazon remains in the early stages of figuring out how to start virus checks and fix a test shortage.

Attempts to increase screening measures come at a time when high-profile protests have hit several Amazon warehouses, as workers increasingly fear getting the virus from work. COVID-19 has already been reported among at least 19 personnel in its US warehouses.

More than one million people worldwide were infected and more than 58,000 died during the pandemic.

Abbott has US marketing authorization for a diagnostic test that can give results to patients in minutes, for use in doctors’ offices and other community health settings. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved a Thermo Fisher test.

The type of assessment Amazon was considering was also unclear, whether it was a diagnostic test for current infections or an antibody test to see if anyone could be immunized.

Amazon is becoming more and more interested in healthcare. Two years ago, the company announced a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co to reduce the health costs of their employees, a company now known as Haven.

Meanwhile, other retailers, including rival Walmart Inc, have been working with the White House on driving tests for first responders.

Report By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, and Krystal Hu and Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Pravin Char and Daniel Wallis

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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