Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Amazon staff test positive for coronavirus at US warehouses

Workers at distribution centers rushing to meet consumer demand have succumbed to the illness.

Workers at Amazon warehouses across the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 at the same time the online marketplace is trying to hire new staff to meet a surge in demand. 

As reported by the Washington Post this week, staff members at a minimum of six US warehouses have tested positive for the respiratory illness at the center of a global pandemic, economic crash, closed country borders, and lockdowns. 

At the time of writing, there are over 435,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. 

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Warehouses in New York City, Shepherdsville, Jacksonville, Katy, Brownstown, and Oklahoma City have been affected. Amazon closed down some facilities for a deep clean and co-workers thought to have been in contact with those suffering from COVID-19 have been quarantined. 

Staff at Amazon have previously complained that Amazon is pushing them too hard to cope with a massive surge in demand by consumers, and a combination of overtime -- together with a lack of protective equipment -- is impacting mental and physical health. 

Warehouse workers diagnosed with COVID-19 -- or placed into isolation -- receive sick pay. However, at the same time, Amazon is attempting to hire roughly 100,000 new workers. 

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A spokesperson for the e-commerce giant said that Amazon has recently adopted new policies to improve hygiene; thorough cleaning of furniture and doors, the break-up meetings to boost social distancing, and suspending staff screening to remove queues and possible chains of infection. 

"Millions" of face masks have also been ordered by the company to protect staff, but as there is a global shortage and a critical need for these items to go to healthcare professionals first, there are delays. 

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"We are supporting the individuals, following guidelines from local officials, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of all the employees at our sites," the spokesperson told the Washington Post. 

In related news this week, a study conducted by Which? found listings springing up in their droves for overpriced hygiene-related products on both eBay and Amazon. Hand wash, tampons, thermometers, and baby formula are among the products being listed with markups as high as 1,000%, and despite Amazon and eBay attempting to remove such listings, some consumers are still willing to purchase these items at massively-inflated prices. 

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