Nearly 20,000 of Amazon’s employees working in the US have tested positive for coronavirus in the last six months, according to the company.
“We have done 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 retailer said in a blog post on Thursday. “In reality, 19,816 employees have tested positive or been presumed positive for Covid-19 – 42 per cent lower than the expected number.”
The disclosure from the company comes as the number of coronavirus cases rises in the US. As of Friday, the number of infections in the country reached more than 7.4 million with more than 200,000 deaths, according to Worldometer.
Amazon has been assembling a team consisting research scientists and programme managers to procurement specialists and software engineers to focus on testing since the outbreak of the pandemic in March.
It also built a “world-class” laboratory team by hiring dozens of lab technicians to carry out testing.
“We're investing hundreds of millions of dollars in this initiative, but testing is just one of the things we're doing to keep our front-line employees safe. We provide our employees comprehensive health insurance from their first day on the job and paid time off to any employee who needs to be quarantined or receive treatment.”
The company also said it is currently conducting thousands of tests a day and is planning to ramp up to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November. It is also taking other measures like implementation of staggered break times as well as eliminating stand-up meetings during shifts, among other things, to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
"We've decided to publicly share the Covid-19 infection rates among Amazon front-line employees - something few if any companies and no other major retailers have done. We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us.”
Amazon has seen its business boom after stay-at-home directives to contain Covid-19 prompted people to shop online. Its shares have surged almost 70 per cent this year, lifting its market value to $1.56 trillion.
To meet the growing demand, the company has been on a hiring spree.
Last month, Amazon said it is adding 10,000 new permanent jobs and 20,000 seasonal positions in the UK this year.
Amazon's net income increased 100 per cent year-on-year to $5.2 billion in the second quarter due to increased sales.