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First Amazon warehouse worker dies of coronavirus

First Amazon warehouse worker dies of coronavirus
© Getty Images

An Amazon warehouse worker in California has died of the novel coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the online retail giant told The Hill on Tuesday.

The worker, an operations manager at Amazon's Hawthorne facility, died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on March 31.

"We are saddened by the passing of a member of our management team in Hawthorne, California," Kristen Kish, the Amazon spokeswoman, told The Hill. "His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues."

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The worker's death was first reported by Business Insider.

It is unknown where the worker contracted COVID-19. He was last on-site on March 6 and was not exhibiting symptoms at the time, according to Amazon.

He went on vacation March 7 to March 20 but began to feel unwell when he returned to the U.S. and did not return to the Amazon warehouse where he worked.

The Amazon spokeswoman told The Hill that the company updated all site employees on March 31 when it became aware of his death.

Amazon has faced scrutiny over its treatment of workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the death is likely to intensify that attention even though questions remain over when the worker contracted the disease.

More than 70 Amazon facilities have had at least one employee who tested positive for COVID-19, according to Athena, a coalition of advocacy groups that focuses on working conditions at Amazon. 

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Workers at several of those facilities have walked out to protest Amazon's efforts to protect them.

The company has pledged to increase cleaning and enforce social distancing policies at its facilities.

This story was updated at 6:18 p.m.