Workers sent home after Amazon warehouse employee tests positive for COVID-19

Brian Heater

It was, it seems, only a matter of time before something like this happened. As we noted in yesterday’s FreshDirect story, not everyone has the ability of being able to shelter in place during the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the more of us who stay put, the more strain we’re going to put on workers who play a role in getting products and supplies to our doors. 

Amazon today confirmed that an employee in its Queens, N.Y. fulfillment center has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The company texted employees at the facility about the case yesterday. The text, obtained by The Atlantic reads, “We’re writing to let you know that a positive case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was found at our facility today.”

It may be the first of its kind in the facility, but it almost certainly won’t be the last. Even as companies encourage workers to stay home at the first sign of sickness for both their benefit and that of customers, many will no doubt come to work. And then there's the matter of those who are largely asymptomatic. 

We’ve reached out to Amazon to comment on the incident. The company noted in the text that workers at the DBK1 facility were sent home, while the sorting facility was disinfected. Amazon has denied reports that, while day shift workers were sent home, those on the night shift were still expected to come in.

In spite of the company’s massive footprint, Amazon has been forced to limit certain shipments, including non-essentials through its Fulfillment by Amazon program, along with the temporary pausing of shipments from Prime Pantry.