Amazon employee at Seattle-area warehouse tests positive for COVID-19

(GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

A worker at Amazon’s Seattle-area warehouse in Kent, Wash. tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the first known COVID-19 case at an Amazon warehouse in Washington state. The news was first reported by The Seattle Times. We’ve reached out to Amazon for more details, and will update this story when we hear back.

Workers in at least 17 of Amazon’s U.S. warehouses have tested positive, according to Reuters. Some workers have complained that Amazon is not doing enough to keep employees safe. More than 1,000 workers have signed a petition demanding more protections.

Under the strain of high demand as more people turn to online shopping during the coronavirus crisis, Amazon is implementing preventative health measures for employees, delivery and transportation partners at sites around the world. They include increasing frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites; adjusting practices to ensure social distancing; requiring employees to stay home and seek medical attention if they are feeling unwell; and more.

Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay, in addition to unlimited unpaid time off through the end of March.

Here’s how the company decides whether to close a warehouse:

We are consulting with health authorities and medical experts on how to handle building closures for deep cleaning, if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Our process evaluates where the employee was in the building, for how long, how much time has passed since they were onsite, and who they interacted with, among other items, in determining whether we need to close. We also ask anyone at the site who was in close contact with the diagnosed individual to stay home with pay for 14-days in self-quarantine.

U.S. lawmakers have sent multiple letters to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos this month outlining their concern for the safety of employees who help pack and ship customer orders. Amazon has called the accusations “simply unfounded.”

Amazon plans to add a whopping 100,000 warehouse workers to keep up with orders. It also increased pay by $2 per hour through April and is doubling base pay for each overtime hour worked through May 9.

Earlier this month Amazon said it will donate $25 million to help its network of independent delivery drivers, Amazon Flex workers, and seasonal employees deal with disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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