Updated- 06 Oct 2020 | 17:16 IST
Amazon said Thursday that almost 20,000 of its front-line U.S. workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
But the web retail behemoth, revealing the info for the primary time, said that the infection rate of its employees was well below that seen within the general U.S. population. The disclosure comes after months of pressure from Amazon workers and labor groups calling for the corporate to divulge the COVID-19 numbers.
Amazon said during a corporate blog that it provided the info as a part of its effort to stay employees informed, and to share details and best practices with governments and other companies.
”We hope other large companies also will release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all folks,” Amazon said. “This isn’t an arena where companies should compete — this is often an arena where companies should help each other .”
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The Seattle-based company said that it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 on 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market across the U.S.
It said it compared the COVID-19 case rates to the overall population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for an equivalent period. supported that analysis, if the speed among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were equivalent to that for the overall population, it estimated it might have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce. that’s 42% higher than Amazon’s actual rate.
The company also said it’s conducting thousands of tests each day, which can grow to 50,000 tests each day across 650 sites by November.
Companies haven’t any legal obligation to publicly reveal what percentage of their workers have contracted the virus, and few do so.
Employers do need to provide a secure working environment, which suggests they need to alert staff if they could are exposed to the virus, consistent with guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency that enforces workplace safety. they’re also obligated to stay track of COVID-19 infections contracted on the work, and must report back to OSHA if there’s a hospitalization or death associated with the disease.
A perceived lack of transparency has left workers at various retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, to become amateur sleuths in their spare time. Unions and advocacy groups have haunted the cause, too, creating lists or building online maps of stores where workers can self-report cases they realize.
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press Thursday night, Walmart said that “we believe that Walmart associates’ rate of infection tracks, or is below, the present rate of infection of the overall public nationwide.” It didn’t explain why it doesn’t provide numbers.
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Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents grocery and meatpacking workers, called Amazon’s disclosure as “the most damning evidence we’ve seen that corporate America has completely did not protect our country’s frontline workers during this pandemic.”
UFCW is looking for immediate action by federal regulators and a full congressional investigation.
“This titanic safety failure demands the very best level of scrutiny,” Perrone said.