March 19, 2020 By Allie Griffin
An employee at the Amazon warehouse in Woodside has tested positive for coronavirus, striking fears among hourly workers on the warehouse floor where social distancing is nearly impossible.
The worker tested positive for COVID-19 this week and the warehouse at 1 Bulova Ave. was temporarily closed for cleaning, Amazon confirmed.
The worker is being quarantined and receiving medical care.
“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings.”
The positive case in Queens is the first warehouse worker with the company in the United States to contract coronavirus. At least five workers at Amazon warehouses in Spain and Italy have contracted the virus, the company confirmed Monday.
Workers at the Woodside warehouse were sent home with full pay a spokesperson said.
As more and more people across the United States are staying home to stop the spread of the virus, orders of things like basic goods from the e-commerce site have skyrocketed.
Amazon is hiring 100,000 new workers for its fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the demand, it announced Monday. The company is also adding $2 to its normal hourly pay for workers through April.
The company is trying to balance meeting the increased demand, while keeping its own workers safe.
“We have implemented proactive measures to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries,” the spokesperson said.
All Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined will receive up to two weeks of paid sick leave, the company said. Hourly employees also have unlimited unpaid time off through the end of March.
- However, a group of workers, Amazonians United NYC say this isn’t enough and released a petition signed by more than 1,500 workers. The petition demands Amazon to provide the paid sick leave to employees, regardless of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis due to the scarcity of tests, among other requests.