Amazon says 19,000 workers contracted coronavirus

Amazon on Thursday disclosed that more than 19,000 workers, or 1.44 percent of the total employees, contracted the coronavirus this year. India jobsBetween March 1 and Sept. 19, Amazon counted 19,816 presumed or confirmed Covid-19 cases across its roughly 1.37 million Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the U.S.

Labor groups, politicians and regulators pressed Amazon to disclose how many of its workers were infected by Covid-19. Warehouse workers raised concerns that Amazon wasn’t doing enough to protect them from getting sick and called for facilities with confirmed cases to be shut down.

Amazon previously declined to share the data, saying it would be misleading and lacked context.

In Thursday’s blog post, Amazon said the total number of infections would be powerful if other companies released similar data. “Wide availability of data would allow us to benchmark our progress and share best practices across businesses and industries,” Amazon said.

There have been at least eight confirmed Amazon worker Covid-19 deaths this year, but Amazon did not give an updated figure in its announcement Thursday.

Amazon rival Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S., said in April that fewer than 1 percent of its roughly 1.5 million U.S. employees had gotten sick with the coronavirus. The company has not released a total number or an updated percentage.

Walmart’s total revenue rose 8.6 percent to $134.6 billion in the first quarter ended April 30.

Walmart’s online business increased 74 percent in the first quarter, as its investments in store pick-up and delivery paid off at the time when demand for such services soared.

Walmart said uncertainty brought by the coronavirus called for prudence in its investments and cost savings. As part of that the group would discontinue, the online start-up it bought in 2016 for $3.3 billion.

“Walmart is a ‘pandemic winner’ that is likely to pick up share from the distress taking place across retail, particularly small businesses, department stores, and others levered to shopping malls,” CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson said.

Amazon’s total does not include its network of third-party delivery drivers, which handle a portion of last-mile deliveries. It’s unclear how many contracted drivers make up Amazon’s third-party delivery network, but the company previously said it has added nearly 85,000 jobs across the U.S., Canada, UK, Spain, and Germany, CNBC reported.

Amazon gave an update on its progress providing coronavirus testing to front-line workers. Thousands of tests are being conducted daily, Amazon said, and it expects that to grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 facilities by November.

Amazon previously said it would invest its expected Q2 profit of $4 billion into its Covid-19 response and will spend $1 billion on testing throughout the year.

Walmart earlier said it would spend another $428 million on bonuses, to compensate its US employees for catering to a surge in online demand for essential goods during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amazon has already built a team of research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists and software engineers to scale up its testing capabilities. It has built its own lab to develop coronavirus testing capacity, with teams focused on these efforts in Sunnyvale, California, and Hebron, Kentucky.