Amazon Confirms First Coronavirus Case in US Warehouse
Text message was sent workers at a warehouse in Queens, New York
Multinational retail giant Amazon has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in one of the company's U.S. warehouses, according to reports.
On Wednesday, a text message was sent to workers at a warehouse in Queens, New York, the Atlantic reported:
“We’re writing to let you know that a positive case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was found at our facility today."
Amazon's hourly warehouse employees make up a large portion of Amazon’s 600,000-strong workforce in the US.
Amazon management sent the message to inform workers they needed to be sent home so the facility could be cleaned.
One worker said he had not been informed of the closure by management and instead heard about it through other employees.
The employee, Jonathan Bailey, claimed workers believed they were still expected to work night shifts.
But Amazon later denied the claim.
“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine,” Rena Lunak, an Amazon spokesperson, said.
“In addition to our enhanced daily deep cleaning, we’ve temporarily closed the Queens delivery station for additional sanitation and have sent associates home with full pay.”
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Earlier this week, Amazon said that employees diagnosed with the coronavirus or were in quarantine would receive two weeks of sick pay.
The company added it would give hourly workers unlimited unpaid time off through the end of March.
The news comes after Amazon announced it was hiring 100,000 new workers in the United States, and thousands more worldwide, as the online retailer battles to cope with the massive surge in orders amid the coronavirus.
The retail giant is reporting soaring online orders as people all over the world are staying home and avoiding public places to ride out the global pandemic.
A steep increase of orders for this weekend is putting its operations under unprecedented pressure, according to the Seattle-based company.
Shoppers are now being warned that it could take longer than usual to receive packages as staff work around the clock to fulfill orders.