Since the pandemic began its spread around the United States, Amazon has become something of a necessity for millions of Americans under lockdown. Shopping on the site allows people to buy everything from food to toilet paper to PPE without risking going out into the world to shop themselves.
Due to the surge in orders, Amazon is one of the few companies doing gangbusters during the pandemic. Matter of fact, it’s hired hundreds of thousands of workers just to keep up with orders. Sadly, however, those workers are putting their lives on the line every day in Amazon warehouses to ensure our orders are filled.
And as of today, the seventh Amazon worker is known to have died from COVID-19. As The Verge reports, a warehouse worker at an Amazon distribution center known as IND8 died on April 30 after contracting the disease. IND8 is in Indianapolis, and the worker’s death represents the second Amazon employee to have died in the state. Amazon workers in Jeffersonville, Indiana; Staten Island and Bethpage, New York; Waukegan, Illinois; and Hawthorne and Tracy, California, are also confirmed to have died after contracting COVID-19.
Amazon has maintained that it takes aggressive steps to make sure its workers are working under safe conditions, such as cleanings and temperature checks. But as The Verge notes, workers say such cleanings are ineffective and conditions at the warehouses make it hard for workers to social distance.
One IND8 worker even reported, “Before we had the unlimited UPT [unpaid time off] so if people didn’t feel safe, they didn’t have to come to work. When that went away, we went from having one hundred twenty five people back to four to five hundred people per shift. It’s really crowded.”
Amazon has been texting its warehouse workers whenever someone tests positive for COVID-19 at their facility, but workers say the notifications aren’t specific—only mentioning that there have been one or more positive cases; the texts do not reveal specific figures. Announcing the seventh worker’s death to its employees, Amazon said, “We are saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Indianapolis, IN. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues in the days ahead.”
As of the time of this writing, at least 800 Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for COVID-19.