Amazon developing lab to test workers for COVID-19

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Amazon is developing a lab to test all of its workers for coronavirus, the tech giant announced Thursday evening.

The announcement comes as employees in at least 64 of its warehouses have tested positive for the disease as of Thursday.

Amazon is developing a diagnostic test to determine whether a person has the virus, as opposed to a blood test that could detect antibodies made by the immune system when a person is exposed. 

The corporation is one company that is still able to operate during the pandemic, and with everything from books to toilet paper in high demand, the company has increased hiring in the past month. 

“We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The company said aggressive testing is the most effective way to stem the spread of the disease both in the company and around the country. 

“Until we have an effective vaccine available in billions of doses, high-volume testing capacity would be of great help, but getting that done will take collective action by NGOs, companies, and governments,” the company added.

Last week, Reuters reported that Amazon was in talks with the chief executives of Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher Scientific to look into obtaining equipment to screen workers for the virus.

Even at the scale Amazon is suggesting, mass testing is an extremely ambitious endeavor. State and local officials have consistently expressed concerns over a lack of tests for their area, though public health officials have said mass testing is a critical part of phasing out social distancing measures. 

“Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running,” Amazon wrote in its blog post. “But, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available.”

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