Amid the call to shut its warehouses and protect front-line employees from the COVID-19 disease, Amazon has announced to build its own coronavirus testing lab and test more employees at its warehouses and other facilities. According to the company, a team of Amazonians with a variety of skills – from research scientists and programme managers to procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.
"We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our front line employees soon," Amazon said in a statement late Thursday. The e-commerce giant admitted it is not sure how far it will get in the relevant timeframe. "We think it's worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others," said Amazon.
To date, Amazon has made over 150 process changes at sites around the world to ensure the health and safety of its teams. A next step might be regular testing of all employees, including those showing no symptoms. Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running, said the company.
More than 50 Amazon-owned facilities have confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US, several with multiple instances of the deadly coronavirus. Amazon has largely remained open throughout the pandemic. To meet surging demand, Amazon has hired additional 80,000 workers.
To lift the mood of its frontline workers, the company posted a video of Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos visiting a fulfilment center and Whole Foods superstore where he is seen, wearing mask, interacting with the staff. "We're all incredibly proud of the thousands of our colleagues working on the front lines to get critical goods to people everywhere during this crisis," said the company.
After being slammed by legislators, unions and employees about health safety across its workforce at warehouses amid the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon said that it is taking major steps to protect the workers.