Many Amazon workers infected with coronavirus as expert warns cantagion can live on packages for up to 24 hours
While it is unclear how many workers for the online retail giant have been infected, it is reported that employees at warehouses in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut and Oklahoma have tested positive for the virus
A number of Amazon employees working in US warehouses have tested positive for the coronavirus amid fears that the contagion can live on packages for up to 24 hours.
While it is unclear how many workers for the online retail giant have been infected, it is reported that employees at warehouses in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut and Oklahoma have tested positive for the virus.
Amazon confirmed one case at their Queens fulfillment center last week, saying they were "supporting the individual who is now in quarantine." A Staten Island warehouse employee tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an individual was at Amazon's Jacksonville, Florida facility on March 18 is receiving medical care and has been quarantined, according to British newspaper Daily Mail.
Amazon workers have been playing an instrumental role in providing food and other basics for millions of people who are self-isolating under government directives, as the global pandemic has infected more than 430,000 and claimed nearly 20,000 lives.
During an appearance on the Today show, Dr John Torres cautioned people receiving deliveries to be careful of how they handle the packages.
According to the medical expert, the virus can stay alive on various surfaces for various time-periods. "Anywhere from copper around four hours to stainless steel and plastic two-three days. Cardboard is right down the middle 24 hours is how long it could live on there and still be what we call viable, meaning it could still pass on coronavirus," Torres said.
People who are yet to receive deliveries are advised to remove the outside packaging and wash hands right after, according to Torres. "With the inside package you can do two things: You can let it sit there for 24 hours. It should go away at that point. If you need it now you can disinfect it on the outside which should help to some extent, but the main thing is once you handle that wash your hands before you touch your face," Torres said.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to his employees last weekend saying he believes things are going to take a turn for the worse before they get better.
"This isn't business as usual, and it's a time for great stress and uncertainty. It's also a moment in time when the work we're doing is its most critical," the billionaire shared on his Instagram. "Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I'm sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better."
Bezos said Amazon is doing everything they can to protect their workers, including contracted drivers.
These measures include "tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances."
According to the e-commerce giant, contracted delivery companies are being supplied with hand sanitizer and wipes so drivers can clean their vehicles.
Furthermore, Bezos announced plans for hiring 100,000 new workers to handle surging demand as the crisis deepened last week.
That said, these openings will probably be filled by thousands of employees who've been laid off from other hard-hit sectors such as the restaurant industry. Also, Amazon is among the select few companies hiring in the midst of the crisis.