Amazon Temporarily Closes Some Warehouses as Employees Test Positive for Coronavirus

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The growing number of Amazon centers where employees have tested positive has sparked concern from warehouse workers, as well as from Amazon’s technology workers.

The retail giant, which employs some 800,000 workers globally, has not confirmed a total number of its warehouse or delivery staff who have tested positive with COVID-19. Workers and local news reports have flagged positive cases in two facilities in New York as well as in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas.

The first case of COVID-19 that Amazon has confirmed in one of its 14 fulfillment centers in the Inland Empire region of California (just east of Los Angeles) was earlier this week. The cluster is Amazon’s largest concentration of warehouses and fulfillment centers in the world, employing about 18,000 people, according to a study by the Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization.

The Moreno Valley center is the latest warehouse where Amazon workers have tested positive. Amazon has had positive cases of COVID-19 in 10 of its fulfillment centers in various parts of the U.S., CNBC reported Thursday. It temporarily closed a warehouse in the New York City borough of Queens last week after a worker tested positive. Amazon has also closed a facility in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Amazon hasn’t closed the Moreno Valley center, according to two employees who work there and asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

But one of the sites Amazon has closed is a warehouse in Shepherdsville, Ky., until April 1st. This is after several workers there tested positive for the coronavirus — the first prolonged closure of a facility confirmed by the company.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“At the order of the Governor the [Kentucky] site is closed until April 1st,” an Amazon spokeswoman told NPR in an email Thursday. “We will continue to work closely with health department and the Governor to reopen the site.”

Amazon has promised two weeks of paid leave for workers who test positive for COVID-19 or who are asked by health or corporate officials to quarantine at home. However, Amazon’s employees — speaking on social media and in press conferences organized by worker groups — say they feel exposed every time they go to work. And they say they can’t afford to take unpaid leave but also struggle to receive pay without official testing results, which are hard to access across the country.

The virus can last on cardboard for up to 24 hours. That’s noteworthy because many customers are using other online delivery services like Amazon during the coronavirus outbreak instead of going to stores in person. Food products packaged in cardboard could also be a risk.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote last week that the company has…