Nearly 20,000 frontline Amazon workers have tested positive or been presumed positive with Covid-19 in the US, the company has revealed.

The disclosure comes after months of pressure from employees and union groups calling for the company to divulge the coronavirus numbers.

The online retailer said the infection rates were well below that seen in the general US population.

In a blog post, it said the information was released to keep workers informed, and to share details and best practices with governments and other companies

”We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us,” Amazon said.

“This is not an arena where companies should compete — this is an arena where companies should help one another.”

The Seattle-based company examined 1.37 million workers’ data from March 1 to September 19 and compared it to Johns Hopkins University records for the same period in the US.

Based on that analysis, Amazon said if the rate among employees were the same as that for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce which is 42 per cent higher that Amazon’s actual rate.

It also said it is conducting thousands of tests each day, which will grow to 50,000 tests per day across 650 sites by November.

Companies have no legal obligation to publicly reveal how many of their workers have contracted the virus and few are doing so.

Employers do have to provide a safe working environment, which means they must alert staff if they might have been exposed to the virus, according to guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that enforces workplace safety.

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents grocery and meatpacking workers, called Amazon’s disclosure as “the most damning evidence we have seen that corporate America has completely failed to protect our country’s frontline workers in this pandemic”.

UFCW is calling for immediate action by federal regulators and a full congressional investigation.

Source: Evening Standard