Covid-19 Testing for Warehouse Workers: What Does the Future Hold?

Covid-19 Testing for Warehouse Workers: What Does the Future Hold?

Amazon is diligently ramping up their coronavirus testing for workers in their warehouses.

According to experts within Amazon, the company’s plan is to test a majority of the warehouse workers on a 2-week basis. [i] Amazon, like most other retailers, has adopted many safety measures as they continue to stay open and busy through this pandemic. Amazon currently employs 125,000 full-time employees at its North American facilities and many more in various degrees of employment. [ii] Back in April, CEO Jeff Bezos said the company would soon begin “regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms.” [ii]

In addition to collecting results by nasal swabs, Amazon is planning on developing a standalone diagnostic lab in several sites with the first ones being in California and Kentucky. [i] Amazon is looking into other methods of testing workers for COVID-19. Some of these methods include measuring oxygen levels, respiratory symptoms, and more regular and extensive temperature checks. [i] Employees who test positive to COVID-19 are then referred to a company called Grand Rounds, a company that provides online medical consultations where a medical professional offers advice and next steps to those who need it. [i] Grand Rounds can also provide Amazon employees with documentation for a 2-week paid quarantine leave, although there has still be a significant amount of problems with many employees paid sick leave. [i] According to CNBC, at least eight Amazon employees have died across the company, and 50 of its fulfillment centers worldwide have reported positive cases. [iii]

A typical work day for an Amazon employee has changed during this pandemic and experts say there isn’t an end in sight to when this will end. For example, about 80% of employees now use an app to clock in and out for their work day. Scaled down max capacity areas for eating and breaks have been reduced, and hand rails inside the center are wiped down 8 times per shift. [iii] There are mixed reviews from employees on how Amazon has handled decisions during the pandemic, ranging vastly from very angry to very content. Stations are being set up to handle regular employee self-testing for the coronavirus that will all be self-service. [iii] “We utilize a variety of data to closely monitor the safety of our buildings and there is strong evidence that our employees are not proliferating the virus at work,” said Kelly Cheeseman, director of external communications for Amazon worldwide operations. [iv] It is guesstimated that Amazon has racked up at least $4 billion in coronavirus costs. [iv]

“Amazon’s temporary unlimited unpaid time off policy was replaced in May. Now, if employees need to miss work to care for a family member or if they are at elevated risk from COVID-19, they can apply for leaves of absence.” [iv]

As everyone faces testing shortages across the world, companies as large as Amazon are determined to find other ways to test their employees to ensure safety to all staff and customers. Especially now as businesses are being urged to open back up (due to the fact that if they don’t, they will not be able to open back up when the pandemic is over), numbers are beginning to increase again. It is important for employees to get tested regularly and remain healthy.

Amazon described its effort as “building incremental testing capacity” and acknowledged the uncertainty of the venture. “We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others,” the company said. [iv]

Experts say that as people stay indoors but are required to work in the office, this alone is causing the virus to spread more than people being out in public. With more than 5 million Americans infected, congress is talking about another relief package to help American citizens. Staying informed is vital to fighting this virus. Head on over to our blog to read more about industry updates from the experts.