Amazon released data Thursday showing that 19,816 employees have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The online retail behemoth said in the statement that it chose to share the COVID-19 infection rates among Amazon front-line employees in hopes other companies do the same.
“This is not an arena where companies should compete—this is an arena where companies should help one another,” Amazon stated.
According to the company’s own analysis of 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the country, the 19,816 number is substantially lower than the general population rate, as reported by Johns Hopkins University, “accounting for geography and the age composition of our employees to make the data as accurate as possible.
Amazon said it found that the workforce case count would have been 33,952 using the general population rate.
The company has faced criticism in the past when it comes to COVID-19 and its employees. An NBC report found that a “lack of transparency, combined with the lack of federal protections for U.S. workers who contract infectious diseases” make it nearly impossible to track the spread of COVID-19 at Amazon.
Amazon said in the release that it became clear in March that testing employees would “be of critical importance” and assigned employees from different backgrounds to a team tasked with that mission.
In late March, roughly 100 workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York walked off the job demanding the facility be closed for cleaning after a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19, and they be given paid time off. Amazon fired the worker who organized the strike, saying he repeatedly violated the company’s social distancing guidelines.
The company says it has “hired dozens of lab technicians and others to build a world-class laboratory team” that is now conducting “thousands of tests a day.” The team’s November goal is growing the daily testing numbers to reach 50,000 across 650 sites.
Amazon says it hopes testing will enable the company to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic carriers.
“Those who test positive can be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative can safely do their jobs without the risk of infecting others,” Amazon said in the news release.
Amazon says it provides “comprehensive health insurance from their first day on the job and paid time off to any employee who needs to be quarantined or receive treatment.”
New sanitization procedures, the distribution of more than 100 million face masks, staggered break times and temperatures checks are among the more than 150 changes the company says it has implemented since the start of the pandemic.