Amazon coronavirus delays: Shipping employees test positive for COVID-19

Several Amazon employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at shipment and/or fulfillment centers in the United States. Amazon seems to be enacting quarantine measures for these employees and asking that employees who had any "close contact" with their infected co-workers to self-quarantine for 14 days. There have also been notable delays in shipments of non-essential items in the last couple of weeks due to COVID-19 and the fallout.

Oklahoma City

A report from Oklahoma City via Oklahoma News 4 showed an Amazon fulfillment center center employee test positive on March 23, 2020. Steven Newton worked at the Amazon OKC1 Fulfillment Center in southwest Oklahoma City. According to Newton, he had "flu like symptoms," but didn't initially get tested for COVID-19. He got tested for the flu, his flu test came back negative, and he went back to work.

He suggested that the symptoms came and went, so he went back to work. "I think that's where I got it because I don't really have much of a social life," said Newton. "I go to work, come home, go to work, come home: that's it."

He went back to work. Because he wasn't initially tested for COVID-19, he wasn't eligible for "the two weeks paid time off Amazon is offering for those who do test positive." Once he returned to work, his "flu-like symptoms" returned, and he got the COVID-19 test, which returned positive. He's now in quarantine for approximately two weeks, at which point he'll be tested again.

Further measures to curb the spread at this facility have not yet been shared by Amazon.

Brookshire, near Houston, Texas

An Amazon employee in Brookshire, Texas tested ccording to ABC 13 (Houston). UPDATE: An updated report from ABC 13 points to the Katy area (right next door to Brookshire) – the site's precise location is just between the two cities, so to speak – HOU3 Amazon Fulfillment Center and the Amazon Distribution Center just off E highway 90 to Houston.

An Amazon statement on this case suggested that they "are supporting the individual who is recovering in quarantine." Amazon's statement continued, "We are following all guidelines from local officials about the operation at our building and taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of those at the building."

According to ABC 13, Amazon's assured them that they've "contacted employees at the site and asked for anyone who had close contact with this person to self-quarantine for 14 days."

Kentucky warehouse

An Amazon warehouse in Shepherdsville, Kentucky has been closed entirely until further notice. According to the Courier Journal, a spokesperson for Amazon said the facility was shut down "for additional sanitization" after "several" workers tested positive for COVID-19.

An Amazon statement on this case gave a statement almost identical to that of the statement given for the case near Houston. "We are supporting the individuals who are now in quarantine and recovering. We are following all guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site."

Amazon also seems to have enacted the same 14-day self-quarantine request for all employees who had "close contact" with any of the employees that tested positive for COVID-19. UPDATE: This location was Amazon's SDF-9 warehouse on Thomas P. Echols Lane, Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Amazon issues warehouse limits

According to NBC News, Amazon is not accepting new products to its warehoues service "except houeshold staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand items through April 5."

"We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock," said the statement from Amazon to its Seller Central platform. "With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers."

What's going to happen?

Amazon's attempting to hire massive numbers of new employees to deal with the overwhelming demand created by quarantine for COVID-19 – but quarantine isn't likely ending any time soon. Amazon also suspended Prime Pantry temporarily for COVID-19. Testing a vaccine for COVID-19 could take a full year – we're looking at a few months AT LEAST.

Here in the United States, things are expected to get worse before they get better, not least of all because people can't afford to say home. But when the alternative is getting sick and potentially dying anyway – what kind of choice is there? Stick around SlashGear's Coronavirus (COVID-19) tag portal for continuing coverage on tech, transportation, and public health.