An Amazon worker at a shipping facility in Queens, New York, tested positive for COVID-19, the company's first known case of the novel coronavirus for a warehouse employee. The conglomerate temporarily shut down the Queens warehouse at a time when it has been struggling to meet a surge of online orders amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine," an Amazon representative said in a statement to CNBC. "Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we're following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings." Amazon also said that the affected employee is receiving medical care and is in quarantine. It's unclear when the facility will reopen.
The Atlantic first reported the news, saying that Wednesday's night-shift workers at the Amazon Queens facility learned of the positive COVID-19 test from other employees. According to the report, the company had not yet informed them not to report to work, although Amazon denied that the The Atlantic. A company representative told the publication that it closed the Queens delivery station for "additional sanitation" and have "sent associates home with full pay."
On March 11, Amazon announced that all employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine would receive two weeks of sick pay. In addition, Amazon gave hourly workers unlimited unpaid time off through the end of March.
On Monday, Amazon said that at least five employees at facilities in Spain and Italy tested positive for the virus, according to CNBC, while two of the company's Seattle-area office staff are known to have contracted it.
Earlier this week, Amazon told third-party sellers that it will accept shipments only for essential products — like medical supplies and household items — to its warehouses in the U.S. and Europe until at least April 5, to free up inventory for high-demand products.
The company also announced that it's seeking to hire 100,000 additional full- and part-time workers in the United States alone, and will be raising minimum wages by $2 per hour in the U.S. (to $17 per hour) through April for all employees, with similar raises in Canada, the U.K. and Europe.
For the most up-to-date information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, check the CDC's website.