Amazon said in a blog that the number of employees who got sick included its workers in its chain store Whole Foods Market. In total, 19,816 employees had covid-19 between March 1 and September 19, it said, or about 1.44 percent of the 1,372,000 front-line workers for Amazon at the time.
(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The tech giant has had a year of extreme ups and downs due to the pandemic. Its sales increased as people shopped more online, especially as lodging measures were implemented in many states. But some employees pushed the public into its working conditions, and delays in shipping caused customers to release their failures online.
Amazon stressed that the infection rate is lower than the U.S. population, citing Johns Hopkins University figures.
The numbers do not include the company’s delivery drivers, which are typically contracted by workers, according to Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman.
The numbers only reflect Amazon’s infection rate in the United States, and only include front-end employees, such as warehouse workers and Whole Foods cashiers. The total number of workers on the Amazon frontline includes people working for the company at any point from March 1to September 19 – including workers who have already left the company. Warehouses have a known high turnover rate among workers.
In March, workers in Spain and Italy tested positive for the virus and joined those in the United States and across Europe in signing a petition calling on Amazon to use stricter safety guidelines, The Washington Post.
More than 1,500 workers signed the petition and one employee called the working conditions “completely inadequate” to keep people safe.
Since then, Amazon has released stricter safety measures and has started its own coronavirus testing lab to screen workers. Amazon said Thursday it is conducting “thousands” of tests per day, and aims to get to 50,000 tests daily at 650 sites by November.
Amazon has released state-by-state destruction of cases. In most states, the Amazon infection rate is lower than the population as a whole. But not Minnesota and West Virginia.
In Minnesota, Amazon employees have a 3.17 percent infection rate, compared to 1.58 percent for the state as a whole. In West Virginia, the Amazon count was 1.31 percent, compared to 0.94 percent for the state.
Amazon has urged other companies to also disclose their coronavirus infection rates.
“We all have an interest in returning to some version of normal and safe helping our communities and economy,” he said on its blog.
Amazon’s shipping and safety struggles during the pandemic have resulted in some strengthening among competitors including Target and Walmart. But Amazon’s revenue jumped 40 percent to $ 88.9 billion in the first full room affected by the economic-boosting coronavirus.
The company takes all year to keep pace with increasing demand. It announced in advance of the pandemic that it would hire a total of 175,000 seasonal workers to keep pace with rising demand. It later said it would keep 125,000 of those jobs as permanent positions.
Last month, it said it would take on 100,000 full-time and part-time jobs in the US and Canada as the holiday season approaches.
Geoffrey Fowler contributed to this report.