An Amazon employee from its Staten Island fulfilment centre has died of COVID-19, raising serious concerns about the safety of its workers.
Amazon’s JFK8 facility in New York’s Staten Island has been at the forefront of the controversy surrounding the online giant’s protection of staff during the outbreak.
In late March Amazon sacked Chris Smalls, a worker at the Staten Island facility who had organised strikes to protest working conditions and safety measures at the facility during the outbreak, sparking an investigation by New York’s commission on human rights.
According to The Verge, an unnamed employee has now died of the illness, while at least 29 workers at the site have contracted the virus.
The employee had not visited the site since April 5 and was confirmed to have contracted the virus on April 11.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
“His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues.”
Amazon has implemented a range of measures to help prevent infection in its warehouses, including introducing social distancing and testing workers for fevers.
Last week it said that enforcing these measures, alongside hiring new staff and paying existing staff bonuses would essentially wipe out its $4 billion profits next quarter.
However, these measures have done little to quash criticism of the company’s response to the virus, and many staff have said its near impossible to maintain social distancing in such busy warehouses.
This is also sadly not the first death of an Amazon worker, with at least five reported since March 31.
Amazon has only closed one facility in the US after the governor of Kentucky ordered it to do so.
It has also been forced to shut all of its warehouses in France after a national court ruled against the online giant, arguing that deliveries must be limited to essentials like groceries.