Amazon coronavirus death toll climbs as 2 Indiana workers die


Two Amazon warehouse workers in Indiana have died of the coronavirus, pushing the company’s death toll to at least seven.

The e-commerce giant said it learned Wednesday that COVID-19 had killed an employee at its facility in Jeffersonville, near Louisville, Kentucky.

The unidentified worker was diagnosed with the disease on April 25 but had not worked since April 1, Amazon said, adding that it did not learn he had tested positive until May 11.

Amazon was told that another warehouse worker in Indianapolis had died of the virus about two weeks earlier, on April 30, the company said. The Verge first reported that death on Thursday.

Amazon said it communicated the worker’s death to all other employees in the building, where the man last worked on April 19.

“Like most global companies, we’ve had employees affected by this, and we’re doing all that we can to protect our employees and take the proper precautions” recommended by the World Health Organization, Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said in an email.

Amazon also confirmed the April death of a worker at its Long Island warehouse on Thursday. At least four other Amazon workers have died in Staten Island, California and Illinois.

The reported deaths came as Amazon workers and activists urged the Seattle-based giant to better protect its staff from the deadly virus amid a surge in online shopping.

Workers had reported hundreds of coronavirus cases at Amazon facilities around the country as of Friday morning, according to United For Respect, a nonprofit that’s tracking the disease among the company’s employees.

Striking workers of an Amazon warehouse in Leipzig, Germany
Striking workers of an Amazon warehouse in Leipzig, GermanyGetty Images

Amazon has not released an official tally of how many workers the virus has infected. Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, recently told “60 Minutes” that the number is not “particularly useful.”

But more than a dozen attorneys general urged Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods to release a state-by-state breakdown of how many workers have contracted and died from COVID-19.

“It is incumbent upon Amazon and Whole Foods as businesses and employers not to worsen the emergency by failing to take every possible step to protect their employees and their customers,” officials from 12 states and the District of Columbia wrote in a Monday letter to the companies.

Amazon has stood by its efforts to protect employees from the coronavirus, saying it expects to invest about $4 billion in coronavirus-related initiatives from April to June. The company also alerts staffers when someone in their building has tested positive for the virus, Lighty said.

“We are going to great lengths to keep the buildings extremely clean and help employees practice important precautions such as social distancing and other measures,” Lighty said in a statement. “Our rates of infection are at or below the rates of the communities where we operate.”

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