Amazon Claims Worker COVID-19 Infection Rates below Norm

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Amazon’s critics have made a point of saying the company is endangering its employees by keeping its fulfillment centers active during the COVID-19 crisis. But working for the company doesn’t appear to be more dangerous than working elsewhere, if recent data released by the company is anything to go by.

Johns Hopkins University puts the rate of COVID-19 infection cases in the U.S. population at 22.2 per 1,000 people. Amazon reported Thursday that it had had 19,816 cases among the 1.37 million employees that work for its fulfillment centers and as well as its grocery chain, Whole Foods. That gave the company an overall case rate of 14.4 per 1,000.

“[I]f the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees were the same as it is for the general population rate, we estimate that we would have seen 33,952 cases among our workforce,” the company claimed. That’s after controlling for various factors, such as the age and geography of workers, the company added.

It claims that aggressive screening and testing procedures for workers account for the lower incidence, stating, “Amazon employees are regularly screened for symptoms and are increasingly being tested at work, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, in order to identify asymptomatic cases.”

Its worth noting too, that Amazon has been hiring and expanding during the COVID-19 outbreak, adding 175,000 new workers in the first half of the year. It announced recently that it plans to hire 33,000 more. You’d think that bringing in that many new people would increase infection odds, but Amazon appears to have done it without a spike in cases.