Amazon warehouse closes after first worker tests positive for coronavirus

Amazon is temporarily closing a New York delivery station after one of its workers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday that the individual is now in quarantine and that the warehouse, DBK1, has enhanced its "daily deep cleaning" at the location as a precautionary measure.

"We’ve temporarily closed the Queens delivery station for additional sanitation and have sent associates home with full pay," the spokesperson said, adding that Amazon is following guidelines from local officials about the operations of its buildings.

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The Atlantic first reported the development. It is unclear when the warehouse will reopen.

The coronavirus outbreak has gripped the U.S., causing mass closures of businesses and schools and forcing many to be asked to stay in their homes. Amazon announced earlier this week that it would suspend shipments of nonessential items to its warehouses in the United States and the United Kingdom because of shortages caused by the worldwide outbreak.

The retail giant has also said that it will hire 100,000 additional warehouse employees to help respond to a "significant increase in demand."

Amazon's Queens facility is reportedly one of the company's smaller warehouses. Warehouses normally employ between 100 and 200 workers who sort packages for delivery routes. Package orders have experienced a massive surge in recent weeks. 

Employees in Queens were notified Wednesday evening that a co-worker had tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement reportedly rattled some employees and prompted concerns about how working in warehouse facilities could affect their health amid a pandemic.

Amazon has increased the frequency of cleaning at all of its sites around the world and has staggered its warehouse shifts to comply with social distancing recommendations. 

The coronavirus, which first appeared in China, has infected more than 200,000 people around the world, including more than 9,000 in the U.S. At least five Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for the virus in Europe, though the facilities have yet to permanently close, Bloomberg News reported.

Updated at 10:09 a.m.