An internal Amazon memo shows how closely it's tracking coronavirus data at warehouses

An internal Amazon memo shows how closely it’s tracking coronavirus data at warehouses

But behind the scenes, Amazon has been closely tracking the spread of the virus inside at least one warehouse, according to an internal memo viewed by CNN Business. And its own data may raise new concerns about the rate of infections in its facilities.

Amazon has Previously claimed that coronavirus cases were “popping up at roughly a general rate just under what the actual community infection rates are,” according to Amazon SVP of global operations Dave Clark. But the internal memo reveals the infection rate at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, is notably higher than the surrounding communities.
The Shakopee facility, known as MSP1, has an infection rate of 1.7%, according to the memo, first reported on by Bloomberg. According to the memo, five local counties had lower rates. Scott County, for example, where Shakopee is located, had an infection rate of 0.1%, per memo; the infection rate in Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is, had a rate of 0.4% during the same period.

The memo, which appears to be updated through May 18, further breaks down the departments, shifts and counties of residence for the 45 workers confirmed to have coronavirus. The granular details highlight just how close the company is keeping tabs on cases, though opting not to disclose this information to workers.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our teams. We have redeployed a large number of our data scientists, technologists, and operations staff to focus on Covid-19 and ensure the safety of our workforce, including thousands of individuals on our health and. safety teams, ”Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman said in a statement to CNN Business. “An in-depth analysis of sites is one of many tools that help us evaluate the full picture in our buildings related to Covid-19,” Cheeseman added.

Amazon, which did not deny the existence of the memo, did not respond to a question about whether it was collecting similar information at its other sites.

“We use a variety of data to closely monitor the safety of our buildings and there is strong evidence that our employees are not proliferating the virus at work – what we generally see is that the overall rate of infection and increase or decrease of total cases is. highly correlated to the overall community rate of infection, ”said Cheeseman in the statement. “Over the past months of Covid-19, thousands of employees and partners have worked at our Shakopee site and we believe strongly that people are not spreading the virus at work given the robust safety measures we put in place.”

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health said 88 workers at the facility has tested positive for coronavirus, revealing a look into the numbers that Amazon has repeatedly refused to make public. The Minnesota Department of Health told CNN Business on Tuesday that 92 workers at the facility are now tested positive, with a total of 198 workers across Amazon’s Minnesota testing facilities positive.

According to the memo, Amazon is “regularly involved” with the Minnesota Department of Health and applicable county health departments in most cases. But the memo also shows a significant desire from workers for more information. In the first two weeks of May, according to the memo, the Shakopee facility chain “64% of safety comments required for transparency in the details regarding the infected Covid. [Amazon Associates], requesting for shift info, total counts, and the most up to date information. ”

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Some workers see newly revealed internal data as validating safety concerns voiced by workers in recent months. Many workers, including at least one at the Shakopee facility, have been fired at various Amazon facilities in the US after being vocal about the alleged company inadequate response to coronavirus. (Amazon previously said the Shakopee worker was fired for “inappropriate language, behavior, and violating social distancing guidelines.)

“This memo shows [Amazon] Know the details, but they’ve been hiding it from us, “said Hibaq Mohamed, who has worked as an Amazon associate for more than three and a half years at the Shakopee facility and has advocated for greater safety precautions. t want to tell us – but this virus is deadly. ”

“The data coming out really does support everything workers have been saying for the last several months about just how serious the spread is at Amazon,” William Stolz, an Amazon associate at the Shakopee facility, told CNN Business.

Amazon has seen soaring demand during the pandemic as people stay home and look to its products and services as a lifeline for household essentials. But it has also become the subject of increasing scrutiny, possibly the workplace conditions of its 110 fulfillment centers across North America with 400,000 employees.

The company has faced pressure from more than a dozen attorneys general who’ve called on Amazon to release a state-by-state breakdown of confirmed Covid-19 cases at its facilities as part of broader demands for worker health and safety. The New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office has interviewed workers from several Amazon facilities in New York City as part of an investigation into worker concerns over coronavirus-related safety measures. The company is also facing a lawsuit over an alleged lack of coronavirus protections at its Staten Island facility.
While the total scope of confirmed coronavirus cases across its facilities is unknown, there have been at least 10 deaths among Amazon warehouse employees who have tested positive for coronavirus. But even as the number of confirmed cases continues to grow across the country, Amazon has eliminated some of its coronavirus-related policies for workers, including unlimited unpaid time off, a $ 2 hourly wage bump and double pay overtime. On Monday, Amazon announced it would give out more than $ 500 million as a “Thank You bonus” to front-line workers who were with the company throughout the month of June.

Amazon has said it shares with employees when it was a confirmed case where they worked, but workers have said that communication was inconsistent. For example, an Amazon spokesperson previously confirmed to CNN Business that while it once included numbers of confirmed cases when notifying workers, it stopped doing so because it didn’t think the number was useful.