Amazon has temporarily shut down the Queens warehouse, coming as the e-commerce giant has been struggling to meet a surge of online orders amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine,” an Amazon rep said in a statement to CNBC. “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 news was first reported by The Atlantic, which said Wednesday’s night-shift workers at the Amazon Queens facility learned of positive COVID-19 test from other employees. According to the report, the company had not informed them to not report to work — which Amazon denied. A company rep told The Atlantic that it has closed the Queens delivery station for “additional sanitation” and have “sent associates home with full pay.”
Amazon on Monday said at least five employees at facilities in Spain and Italy tested positive for the virus, CNBC reported, while two of the e-tailer’s Seattle-area office staff are known to have contracted COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Amazon told suppliers that it will accept shipments only for essential products — like medical supplies and household items — to its warehouses in the U.S. and Europe until at least April 5, to free up inventory for high-demand products.
The company also announced that it is seeking to hire some 100,000 additional full- and part-time workers in the U.S. alone. Amazon is raising minimum wages by $2 per hour in the U.S. (to $17 per hour) through April for all employees, with similar raises in Canada, the U.K., and Europe.
Amazon SVP of operations Dave Clark wrote in a blog post that the company is taking additional steps in its facilities to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, including promoting “social distancing” in its warehouses and stepping up the frequency and thoroughness of its cleaning procedures.