- Over 30 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Carteret, New Jersey, have contracted COVID-19, according to sources at the facility. The company said it is “supporting the individuals.”
- “Every other day, it’s the same text message,” one employee said. “I used to feel safe here, but not anymore.”
- It appears to be the worst known outbreak at an Amazon facility.
- The company plans to terminate its policy of unlimited unpaid time off on April 30.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon is confirming a major outbreak of the novel coronavirus at a warehouse outside New York City after an employee told Business Insider that over 30 coworkers had tested positive for COVID-19.
“We are supporting the individuals, who are recovering,” Timothy Carter, an Amazon spokesperson, told Business Insider. In a phone call, Carter said the company is not denying there are more than 30 infected persons, but he declined to state a total number.
On Wednesday, workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Carteret, New Jersey — just across the strait from Staten Island — received a text message informing them of “additional confirmed cases of COVID-19.”
“Every other day it’s the same text message,” one employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said. “Our building during one day shift has over 500 people in the building at once. There’s no way to properly distance yourself when running at that capacity. And every day they’re hiring more and more people.”
“I used to feel safe here, but not anymore,” they added. “They just care about putting out packages.”
The cases have been steadily rising for the past month, according to another worker at the facility who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Unfortunately, they refuse to close,” they said, requesting anonymity due to fear of possible retaliation. “Because I fear infecting my children and mother, who currently has cancer, I am forced to stay home without pay.”
But that — the ability to stay home without pay — will soon change. Earlier this week, Amazon told Business Insider that on April 30 it would terminate its policy of unlimited unpaid time off, which was first announced in March as part of the company’s response to the coronavirus. The company’s $2-an-hour increase for hazard pay is also set to expire.
“I think it means they want people who don’t want to come to work to start quitting,” another employee at a New York-area warehouse said at the time.
The company has stepped up efforts to provide workers with protective gear, such as gloves and masks, and begun checking temperatures at the start of shifts.
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Amazon also recently announced an effort to develop an in-house testing lab, though Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told Business Insider the initiative could result in an unwelcome increase in competition for testing resources.
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