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Amazon closes NJ warehouse days before Christmas after rise in asymptomatic coronavirus cases

Amazon closes NJ warehouse days before Christmas after rise in asymptomatic coronavirus cases
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Amazon said it is closing a warehouse in New Jersey until Dec. 26 after an increase of asymptomatic coronavirus cases was detected through the company’s in-house testing program.

An Amazon spokesperson said workers will be paid for all shifts they miss and the company is not expecting any delivery delays as a result of the temporary closure at the warehouse known as the PNE5 facility.

“Through our in-house COVID-19 testing program, we detected an increase in the number of asymptomatic positive cases at our PNE5 facility in northern New Jersey and have proactively closed the site until December 26th out of an abundance of caution,” Amazon spokeswoman Leah Seay said in a statement Monday to The Hill.

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Seay did not respond to questions about how many Amazon workers tested positive at the warehouse or whether the company is planning to temporarily shutter any other facilities.

The online retail giant has come under scrutiny from worker advocates and warehouse employees in general over health and safety conditions during the pandemic. The company has defended its actions to protect workers, including providing protective equipment and enhancing cleaning protocols.

Amazon temporarily shut facilities in Queens, N.Y., as well as in Kentucky due to coronavirus cases among workers earlier this year.

Earlier this month, Amazon reportedly wrote a letter to the federal government asking to prioritize essential works at its warehouses, grocery stores and data centers to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Vaccine rollouts have begun across the country, starting with health care workers and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended Sunday that people age 75 or older, as well as certain front-line essential workers, be next in line for the vaccines.