Almost 20,000 Amazon workers have contracted COVID-19, shedding light on the true cost the virus has had on the world’s largest retailer.
Affecting Amazon and Whole Foods Market frontline employees across the US, a total of 19, 816 staff tested positive or were presumed positive to the deadly virus.
In a corporate blog post by Amazon, the multinational claimed it assessed its 1.3 million frontline workers employed between 1 March and 19 September 2020.
However, the US-based enterprise noted the substantial figure of positive cases was “42% lower than the expected number”.
“We compared COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by John Hopkins University for the same period, accounting for geography and the age composition of our employees to make the data as accurate as possible,” Amazon said. “Based on this analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Food Market employees were the same as it is for the general population rate, we estimate that we would have seen 33,952 cases among our workforce.”
— Reuters Business (@ReutersBiz) October 2, 2020
Amazon explained it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into its COVID-19 testing initiative since the global epidemic.
“We cast a wide net by including both confirmed and presumptive cases in Amazon figures,” the company stated. “A positive test does not mean someone became infected as a result of their employment with Amazon – these individuals can be exposed in many ways outside of work.”
To meet the needs of the virus outbreak in March, Amazon assembled a team of research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists and software engineers to focus their efforts on the pandemic.
“We’re conducting thousands of tests a day and growing to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November as part of our effort to keep our frontline employees safe,” the company said.
From distributing more than 100 million face masks, implementing temperature checks, social distancing to sanitising door handles and communal touchpoints every 90 minutes, the strenuous efforts provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the very impact the disease is having on the largest US enterprises.
“We’ve eliminated stand-up meetings during shifts, moved information sharing to bulletin boards, staggered break times and spread out chairs in break rooms, among other steps,” Amazon said. “Since the beginning of this crisis, we’ve worked hard to keep our employees informed, notifying them of every new case in their building.
“We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us.
“This is not an arena where companies should compete – this is an arena where companies should help one another.”