- Amazon on Thursday said an employee at its Jeffersonville, Indiana, distribution center has died from COVID-19.
- The company previously said it was investigating the warehouse after Business Insider obtained a photo that appeared to show that social-distancing measures were not being followed.
- At least seven Amazon employees are now confirmed to have died from the coronavirus.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
A worker at an Amazon warehouse in Indiana has died from COVID-19 after several employees there told Business Insider that the company was failing to enforce social-distancing measures.
After one worker provided a photo on April 1, showing managers huddled around a small table, Amazon said it would investigate the situation there. Days later, the facility reported its first confirmed case of an employee infected with the coronavirus.
The employee who died was last inside the distribution center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on April 1. The company began checking workers there for signs of fever two days later.
"We are saddened by the loss of an associate who had worked at our site in Jeffersonville," Amazon spokesperson Timothy Carter said in a statement to Business Insider. "His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues."
At least seven Amazon employees are now confirmed to have died from COVID-19, including another death, announced Thursday, of an associate at a warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"Upon finding out, I cried," an employee at the Jeffersonville facility told Business Insider, asking not to use their name because they fear losing their job.
"I didn't even find out via Amazon directly contacting me," they said. "I found out because of an online article."
They credited Amazon with taking steps to protect workers, but argued the company "refuses to do everything they can to ensure the safety of employees because there are so many customers ordering items."
"I'm terrified just going to work and doing my job could literally kill me, or my family members if I bring it home," they said. "I do not feel like they care about me as much as they care about their money."
A number of Amazon's facilities have reported dozens of cases as the company enjoys skyrocketing sales to customers who are sheltering in place; numerous workers have said in interviews that while their employer has instituted some measures to protect them — and recently began testing some employees itself — they believe that it values profits over the individual lives of its workers.
Amazon has said it has increased social distancing measures, implemented employee temperature checks, and provided some protective equipment such as masks.
One employee who spoke to Business Insider in early April, requesting anonymity out of fear for their job, complained about the Jeffersonville facility, saying, "there is still no way to not come into contact with others," despite posted guidelines encouraging social distancing.
The employee also lamented that their work did not feel socially necessary. "Our building barely ships any potential essential goods," they said. It's mostly "clothing and jewelry."
"The warehouse is not operating safely at all," said another worker in early April, requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation. "We ask for hand sanitizer daily and get told that they don't have any," they claimed. "Almost everyone I talk to at work [is] scared to come in, but the only we have is to stay home without pay."
Amazon eliminated that option on May 1: employees who fear entering a potentially contaminated workplace now risk termination, as the company ended its policy of unlimited but unpaid time off, despite a plea from a local public health official in New Jersey where one warehouse allegedly had dozens of cases. Amazon also said that it will soon eliminate hazard pay for workers.
Workers were individually informed of the latest death, according to one employee who spoke to Business Insider.
"I really feel sorry for his family," the employee said, requesting anonymity out of fear of retaliation for speaking to the press. "They use the same robotic response for his death that they do for all the confirmed cases."
The employee said social distancing is still not enforced, nor are there hand-washing stations, as promised, with workers pressured to unload products by internal deadlines, "no matter what the cost."
"I do fear for my life," the worker added, "but I have bills to pay."
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