Coronavirus cases confirmed in at least six US Amazon warehouses

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The coronavirus outbreak has impacted at least six Amazon warehouses in the U.S. as the retail giant works to address a surge in shipments from Americans staying home during the pandemic.

Employees at Amazon warehouses in New York City, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan and Oklahoma City have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Tuesday Washington Post report based on information from Amazon and local news reports. 

The news comes about a week after Amazon confirmed that its first warehouse employee had contracted the disease, causing a temporary shutdown at a New York delivery station. The company has shuttered other warehouses affected by the disease’s spread and has asked workers who were in close contact with individuals who tested positive to self-quarantine. 

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

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman told The Hill in a statement that the company is “supporting the individuals, following guidelines from local officials, and [is] taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites.” 

Many workers, however, have reportedly voiced problems with Amazon’s efforts to protect its employees amid the pandemic. More than 1,500 employees have signed on to a petition urging Amazon to take additional steps to ensure worker safety, the Post noted. 

The petition was crafted after warehouse workers in Spain and Italy, two countries hit especially hard by the virus, tested positive for the disease. The coronavirus has infected more than 400,000 people worldwide and more than 52,000 people in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University database tallying confirmed cases

This month, Amazon announced a range of changes to keep up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The company said that it will hire 100,000 additional warehouse employees, increase hourly pay by $2 and suspend shipments of nonessential items to its warehouses in the United States and the United Kingdom because of shortages caused by the worldwide outbreak.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a letter to employees over the weekend that the company had also placed an order for millions of face masks for individuals who can’t work from home. He added that “very few of those orders have been filled” because masks remain in short supply. 

Updated at 8:08 a.m.

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