Amazon says more than 19,000 workers got Covid-19

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Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon on Thursday released comprehensive data on the spread of the coronavirus among its employees, revealing for the first time that more than 19,000 workers, or 1.44% of the total, had contracted the virus this year.Between March 1 and September 19, Amazon counted 19,816 suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 among its approximately 1.37 million frontline employees at Amazon and Whole Foods Market in the United States.

The information comes months after task forces, politicians and regulators repeatedly urged Amazon to reveal how many of its workers have been infected with Covid-19. At the start of the pandemic, warehouse workers expressed concern that Amazon was not doing enough to keep them from falling ill and called for facilities to close with confirmed cases. Lacking data from Amazon, warehouse workers compiled a database of crowdsourced infections based on notifications of new cases at facilities across the United States.

Amazon previously refused to share the data, saying it would be misleading and lack context. In Thursday’s blog post, Amazon said the total number of infections would be “more powerful” if other companies released similar data. “Wide availability of data would allow us to compare our progress and share best practices between companies and sectors,” the company said.

Walmart, the largest employer in the United States, said in April that less than 1% of its roughly 1.5 million American employees had fallen ill with the coronavirus. The company has not released an updated total number or percentage. Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The total does not include Amazon’s network of third-party delivery drivers, who handle a portion of last mile deliveries. It is not known how many contracted drivers make up Amazon’s third-party delivery network, but the company previously said it has created nearly 85,000 jobs in the US, Canada, UK, Spain and in Germany.

Amazon said the infection rate among employees was 42% lower than expected, compared to the “general population rate” in the United States. If Amazon’s infection rates were in line with those in the community, the total number of cases would have reached 33,952, the company said. .

The company has long argued that the rate of infection in its warehouses is lower than rates in surrounding communities, although this has been disputed by workers, particularly at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota, where rates d infection exceeded community levels.

Amazon also took stock of its progress in providing coronavirus tests to frontline workers. Thousands of tests are done daily and Amazon plans to grow to 50,000 tests per day at 650 installations by November.

CNBC previously reported that Amazon’s goal was to test the bulk of its frontline workers every two weeks, with employees testing themselves with nasal swabs. The company had previously said it would invest its expected second-quarter profit of $ 4 billion in its Covid-19 response and spend $ 1 billion on testing throughout the year.

Amazon has established a dedicated team of researchers, program managers, purchasing specialists, and software engineers to rapidly develop its testing capabilities. He’s built his own lab to develop coronavirus testing capability, with teams focused on those efforts in Sunnyvale, Calif. And Hebron Kentucky.

– CNBC’s Melissa Repko contributed to this article.

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