- Amazon has temporarily shut down a delivery center in New York after a worker tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
- A spokeswoman told Business Insider the facility had been closed for a deep cleaning.
- This marks the first confirmed case among Amazon’s US blue-collar workforce. It has also seen multiple cases in three European warehouses but has refused to close those facilities.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon has shut down a US facility that for the first time saw a worker test positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Atlantic first reported that employees at Amazon’s Queens, New York, delivery station received a text Wednesday that said: “We’re writing to let you know that a positive case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was found at our facility today.”
The text was sent by a worker to a group called Amazon Workers United rather than management, but the company has now confirmed that one of its employees in Queens has the illness COVID-19.
“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine,” a spokeswoman told Business Insider. “Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings.”
She added: “We have implemented proactive measures to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries. 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.”
One Queens employee told The Atlantic that management had not alerted the workers and that some workers were expected to report in for the night shift. Amazon’s spokeswoman denied this.
Amazon isn’t shutting European warehouses despite confirmed infections
This marks the first Amazon blue-collar employee to be confirmed to have the virus in the US.
In its facilities in Europe, however, Amazon has detected at least five cases of the virus in three warehouses. Two warehouses in Spain and one warehouse in Italy have confirmed cases, but all three facilities have remained open.
Workers in the affected warehouses have expressed their concerns, and in Italy workers went on strike Tuesday to protest the company’s response to the crisis.
Julian Marval, a worker at the Madrid warehouse, told Business Insider on Thursday that Amazon had been reported to Spain’s Labor Inspectorate, an independent labor-law watchdog.
“I think the measures they claim they have taken since day one are just simply not enough,” he said, adding: “In other companies they are limiting the presence of so many workers at once, and they are cleaning more efficiently. Here the cleaning is poor.”
A worker in the affected Italian warehouse told Business Insider on Tuesday that the sanitation offered to workers on-site was not sufficient.
“Hand gel, for example — it’s there but it’s not available because sometimes, unfortunately quite often, the dispensers are empty,” the worker said. “Or the spray bottles with the correct alcoholic percentage to kill the virus, unfortunately even they’re not always available.”
Two Amazon workers in the company’s Seattle headquarters were confirmed to have coronavirus earlier this month, prompting the company to ask office employees to work from home.
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