Amazon counts nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases among its frontline workers

BySara Ashley O'Brien, CNN Business, CNNWire
Thursday, October 1, 2020
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Amazon said Thursday that 19,816 of its front-line employees at Amazon and Whole Foods have tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus, shedding light for the first time on how its workforce has been impacted by COVID-19.

Amazon had repeatedly resisted sharing comprehensive data with the public and with its own workers about the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases at its warehouses, which have become crucial hubs for household supplies during the pandemic. Despite numerous confirmed cases at Amazon warehouses across the country, and around the world, the e-commerce giant has downplayed the significance of releasing site or aggregate data, making it difficult to get a clear picture of overall infections at its sites.

In a blog post, the company said it did a "thorough analysis of data on all 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the US employed at any time from March 1 to September 19, 2020."

The Wall Street Journal reports Amazon is in talks with the largest mall owner in the United States, Simon Property Group, to convert former or current Sears and JCPenney stores into new fulfillment centers after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon said it then compared its case rates to the general population during the same period, using reporting from Johns Hopkins University. It claimed that the number of its employees that tested, or were presumed to be, positive was 42% lower than expected based by that comparison.

Dave Clark, Amazon senior vice president of global operations, previously said the total number of cases "isn't particularly useful because it's relative to the size of the building and then the overall community infection rate," in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that aired in May. The company appears to now be taking a different position on the matter.


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