1.44 percent of Amazon’s front-line employees, or 19,816 workers, have tested positive or been “presumed positive for COVID-19,” Amazon said in a blog post published Thursday. The company says it employs 1,372,000 front-line employees across both Amazon and Whole Foods.
The blog marks the first time Amazon has disclosed how many of its workers have contracted COVID-19, and comes after months of demands for increased transparency from workers, governments, and Amazon investors. Amazon warehouse workers have reportedly even worked amongst themselves to attempt to determine how many of their colleagues have contracted the disease. The disclosure is also notable following comments from Amazon senior vice president of worldwide operations Dave Clark in May, who said that the “total number of cases isn’t particularly useful” in a 60 Minutes interview.
Amazon points out that its 19,816 cases are lower than the 33,952 it estimated it would have seen, when comparing its total employee count with a general population case rate reported by Johns Hopkins University. But while that might paint Amazon in a positive light, at least 10 employees have died from the disease, NBC News confirmed with Amazon in an article published yesterday. The company didn’t discuss those deaths in today’s blog post.
Amazon says it conducts thousands of COVID-19 tests per day, with a goal of doing 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November. The company also says it has distributed more than 100 million face masks, instituted temperature checks, and introduced “enhanced cleaning procedures” at its sites.
However, workers at a warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana told The Verge that cleaning has been uneven and that the site has been too crowded for appropriate social distancing in May. And three warehouse workers sued the company in June, claiming that working conditions put them at risk of COVID-19 infection.