Amazon closes some warehouses as coronavirus cases among workers increases
FOX Business’ Susan Li on how Amazon is responding to rising coronavirus cases among warehouse employees.
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Multiple Whole Foods employees working at a popular Washington, D.C., location in the Logan Circle neighborhood have tested positive for coronavirus, the store has confirmed.
At least six employees have come down with the virus, and one worker spoke out against the Amazon-owned company in an anonymous interview with local news outlet WUSA9, saying the store has yet to close for a deep cleaning, and more workers are getting sick.
The employee also forwarded emails and text messages from Amazon's human resources department letting employees know about "an additional" confirmed COVID-19 case and saying they are welcome to take unpaid leave through the end of April if they are "nervous about coming into work."
A cashier wears gloves while scanning the groceries of a customer at a Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA on March 24, 2020. (Photo by Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
"We are meeting any notification of a diagnosis with swift and comprehensive action and communication to our Team Members in the store, and are supporting our diagnosed Team Members as well as those in quarantine," a Whole Foods Market spokesperson told FOX Business.
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The spokesperson added that workers with COVID-19 or those who have chosen to self-quarantine for two weeks will receive up to two weeks of paid leave, which has been Amazon's standard since the start of the pandemic. The two weeks of paid leave comes on top of "unlimited" unpaid leave during the pandemic.
The emails and text messages sent to employees say the Washington location has undergone "multiple enhanced cleanings," but the anonymous employee said the store conducts its "enhanced cleanings" while employees are working.
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"Whole Foods comes back again and says that they’re going to deep cleanse the store," the employee told WUSA9. "Deep cleaning the store? They're doing this while we’re working."
A Whole Food employee sanitizes shopping charts amid coronavirus concerns before they are used by waiting patrons outside the 365 Whole Foods Market in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
"I was like, 'This is out of control.' These people don’t care nothing about us. They just want us to work while people are getting sick," the employee added.
The Whole Foods spokesperson said the Washington location "performed additional deep cleanings on top of the daily enhanced cleanings after learning of confirmed positive cases. These cleanings were done after hours and overnight by third parties."
Whole Foods, like other grocery stores, is considered an essential business amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the company is working to "balance that responsibility with our responsibility as an employer to ensure the health, safety and privacy" of its team members, the spokesperson said.
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The store, under Amazon's guidelines, requires daily employee temperature checks, the use of face masks and gloves, social distancing and crowd control measures, as well as the use of plexiglass at registers.
Amazon Go grocery bag / Amazon Go
Another anonymous employee told WUSA9 that Amazon and Whole Foods' efforts aren't enough.
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"The public doesn’t know that they have employees that came down with the corona in that store. They don’t know these things," the worker said.
Amazon employees across the country have staged walkouts in protest of the e-commerce giant's handling of the coronavirus, saying that even though there are safety measures in place, locations are not enforcing the new policies well enough, causing more workers to get sick.
More than 50 Amazon locations have confirmed COVID-19 cases.
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