More than 19,000 Amazon employees have caught the coronavirus since March, the company said as it revealed the first comprehensive count of infections among its workers.
The e-commerce titan identified 19,816 Amazon and Whole Foods staffers who tested positive for COVID-19 or were presumed to have the bug from March 1 to Sept. 19, Amazon said in a blog post-Thursday.
That number accounts for about 1.44 per cent of Amazon’s frontline workforce of more than 1.3 million people. The company contends it would have been 42 per cent higher at 33,952 if the infection rate among its employees matched that of the general population.
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The revelation followed months of pressure from labour groups and public officials for Amazon to release a complete count of how many employees had contracted and died from the coronavirus. Amazon did not include a tally of deaths in its blog post, but there have reportedly been at least eight fatalities among its workers.
While Amazon initially resisted those calls, it now says other companies should follow its lead and release similar data on infection and quarantine rates, which “would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries.”
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“This is not an arena where companies should compete — this is an arena where companies should help one another,” Amazon said.
Amazon has stood by its efforts to protect workers from COVID-19 amid criticism from staffers who said the company was failing to keep them safe as they grappled with a surge in online shopping sparked by the pandemic. Before Amazon released an official infection count, workers had reported hundreds of cases through an online tracking system launched by the nonprofit United for Respect.
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