Employees at 6 Amazon facilities in Southern California have tested positive for coronavirus
Workers at six Amazon facilities in Southern California have tested positive in the last week for the virus that causes COVID-19. Four of those cases were confirmed and disclosed to workers at the facilities involved on Wednesday and Thursday.
The newly affected facilities are fulfillment center ONT2 in San Bernardino, the LGB8 inbound cross-dock warehouse in Rialto, delivery center DLA8 in Hawthorne, and a smaller Amazon Prime Now warehouse in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Hawthorne and Glassell Park facilities both handle the final stage of deliveries to customers in Los Angeles, with the Hawthorne facility handling deliveries for much of L.A.’s West Side.
Two other facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties had reported cases in late March.
In a statement, Amazon said that all employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed to quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay to ensure they can self-isolate without worrying about lost income. The company is also offering unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of April.
“We are supporting the individuals who are recovering,” said Timothy Carter, an Amazon spokesman. “We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site.”
The company said it had informed other employees at the affected sites about each case. At ONT2 in San Bernardino and LGB8 in Rialto, employees were informed via prerecorded voice messages from their managers.
The company’s Eastvale warehouse in Riverside County, which was the first to report an employee testing positive for COVID-19, now has its third case as of Thursday, The Times confirmed.
Warehouse employees were notified about the most recent case on Wednesday, according to a worker who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. Company communications The Times reviewed confirmed that while Amazon is not paying workers for the missed shifts, the company is allowing them to take time off without penalty if they feel uncomfortable coming in to work.
“When I look at the operations leadership team who are making $100,000 to $150,000 a year, and they get to go home without worrying about if they’re going to get paid, that bugs me,” the Eastvale warehouse worker said. “Because we’re still here and if we go home, we don’t get paid.”
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Amazon said it is taking measures to reduce infection in its facilities, including increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces such as door handles and screens that multiple employees touch during a workday. It is also staggering shift times to promote social distancing, and suspending exit screenings, which the company typically performs to check if employees are stealing merchandise, to reduce traffic jams at exits and entrances.
But Amazon warehouse and delivery workers across the country have called for the company to do more to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 or compensate them for the health risks associated with working during the coronavirus outbreak.
As The Times reported, workers were told to stay only three feet apart — half of what the CDC recommends — as recently as March 24. On Monday, Amazon warehouse workers in New York staged a walkout over the lack of protective gear and other safeguards. After the walkout, Amazon said it would provide masks to all warehouse workers and perform daily temperature checks on all arriving employees.
At the Eastvale warehouse, one of Amazon’s largest on the West Coast, the company notified workers of the second case, via text message, on March 29. “The affected individual was last on site on 26 March and consistent with our daily processes, the site has been undergoing multiple enhanced cleanings during this time,” the message read.
Southern California Amazon workers have begun circulating petitions in response, demanding the company shut the affected warehouses down for two weeks because social distancing there “is almost impossible.”
Instacart workers are asking for better pay and benefits in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Amazon is trying to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the fact of the matter is we work with so many people every single day that we are in constant danger,” the petition read.
In addition to paid sick leave, the petition demanded hazard pay of 150% of the usual rate, child care pay and subsidies, as well as free testing for the virus.