Did Amazon just end criticisms about its COVID-19 safety record?
Amazon.com, which came under criticism from its own employees and scrutiny from media outlets over safety measures it took early in the COVID-19 pandemic, announced that 19,816 of its frontline workers were diagnosed with the virus between March 1 and September 19. The number of infections, according to Amazon, puts it well below the rate among the general U.S. population since the outbreak began.
The e-tailing and technology giant, which has called on other companies to follow its lead in providing similar transparency on case numbers and safety steps taken during the health crisis, reports that the infection rate among its workers has been 1,442 per 100,000. The rate among the general population has been 2,180 cases per 100,000 people, based on figures published by Johns Hopkins University during the period in question. Amazon posits that it would have had nearly 34,000 workers sickened with the virus if its numbers matched those of the country as a whole. Amazon says that it employs 1,372,000 frontline employees in the U.S.
In a blog post, Amazon maintains that it had been “conservative” in its comparative analysis.
“First, we cast a wide net by including both confirmed and presumptive cases in the Amazon figures. Second, actual COVID-19 rates in the general population are greater than the official counts because not everyone in the general public gets screened for symptoms or tested. By contrast, Amazon employees are regularly screened for symptoms and are increasingly being tested at work, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, in order to identify asymptomatic cases. And of course, a positive test does not mean someone became infected as a result of their employment with Amazon — these individuals can be exposed in many ways outside of work.”
Amazon is also calling on other major corporations to join in releasing similar information.
“Unfortunately, there are no standards for reporting or sharing this data, and there’s very little comparable information about infection rates and quarantine rates available from other companies. We all have a vested interest in returning to some version of normal and safely helping our communities and the economy. We hope sharing this data and our learnings will encourage others to follow, and will prove useful as states make decisions about reopening public facilities and employers consider whether and how to bring people back to work.”
- Update on COVID-19 Testing – Amazon.com
- Amazon’s COVID-19 blog: updates on how we’re responding to the crisis – Amazon.com
- Amazon Says More Than 19,000 Workers Have Had Positive Coronavirus Tests – The Wall Street Journal
- Should Amazon, Walmart, others be held liable for workers sickened by COVID-19? – RetailWire
- There go the profits. Amazon to spend $4B on coronavirus response. – RetailWire
- Should working in retail warehouses be safer than stores? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to Amazon’s decision to release data about COVID-19 infections among its frontline workers? Will this silence critics of the company and is it something other large retailers should do, as well?