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Amazon employee test positive for COVID-19 at BWI5 location, cases also confirmed at Sparrows Point location

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Posted at 2:49 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 14:49:16-04

BALTIMORE — An Amazon employee at the BWI5 location in Baltimore has tested positive for the coronavirus and there have been confirmed cases at the Sparrows Point location.

A company spokesperson confirmed the diagnosis to WMAR-2 News on Sunday and said in regards to the Sparrows Point cases that the confirmed cases are individual cases, and are not linked/related to one another.

Rachel Lighty, a spokesperson for Amazon, said in a statement:

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our teams. Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with health authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and teams. Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances.

What is true is that masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, social distancing measures, increased time off, increased pay, and more are standard across our network because we care deeply about the health and safety of our employees. Our teams are adjusting rapidly implementing policy changes on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis to support our teams and customers and we have made more than 150 process updates to ensure safety at our sites and to support employees with additional wage and paid and unpaid time off options. Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable We encourage anyone to compare the health and safety measures Amazon has taken, and the speed of their implementation, during this crisis with other retailers."

And in regards to pay/benefits extension, Lighty said:

"We’ve extended the increased hourly pay through May 16. We are also extending double overtime pay in the U.S. and Canada. These extensions increase our total investment in pay during COVID-19 to nearly $700 million for our hourly employees and partners. In addition, we are providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures. We continue to see heavy demand during this difficult time and the team is doing incredible work for our customers and the community."

For employees and partners whose work requires their physical presence in their workplace, Amazon said those individuals have access to all of their usual paid and unpaid time-off benefits should they, for any reason, choose not to come to work.

Also, all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of additional time off (this is on top of the up to 5 weeks PTO they already get) to ensure they can get healthy without worrying about lost pay.

Amazon stated if their operations employees are unable to come back to work due to personal circumstances such as school closures or if a family member in their household is at risk, they are providing flexibility with added unpaid time off that employees can use in May and options through their personal leave of absence program, including expanding the policy to cover COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures.

Amazon also stated they have increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites including regular sanitization of all door handles, stairway handrails, elevator buttons, lockers, and touch screens and they continue to explore even more preventative measures to support the health and safety of employees.

When a COVID-19 case is confirmed in one of their buildings, they say they communicate this news to all individuals who work at that site —not just to those who’ve come in close contact with the diagnosed individual.

In reference to the Sparrows Point cases, Lighty said:

"We are supporting the individuals who are recovering. We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site. Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis—we have nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. alone supporting customers and we are taking measures to support each one. We’ve implemented a broad suite of new benefits changes for employees in our operations and logistics network including an additional $2 per hour, 2x base pay for overtime, and paid time off benefits for regular part-time and seasonal employees. We are encouraging those who are unwell to stay home and taking extreme measures to keep people safe in our buildings. And, since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with health authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and teams. We have also implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries."

Amazon said they will alert any associate who had close contact with a confirmed case at one of their buildings and will ask them to not return to the site and to self-quarantine for 14-days, and they will pay them for their time at home.