Amazon’s warehouses are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases according to a number of workers while the company pushes ahead with plans to scrap onsite testing and relax mask rules.
According to NBC News, which spoke to 11 Amazon workers across the US, cases across the company are spiking and many are concerned about their own welfare during work hours.
Amazon has allowed workers to attend its fulfilment centres without a mask if they are able to prove that they are fully vaccinated by uploading their vaccination card to the internal worker app known as “AtoZ”.
The ecommerce giant is now planning to relax rules even further, including scrapping its social distancing enforcement crew, stopping on-site testing and dropping rules requiring all employees to wear masks.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the new wave of delta variant cases is being spread almost entirely by unvaccinated people.
One worker who regularly trains new staff at Amazon’s facility in Dallas-Fort Worth said that she has seen many unvaccinated workers flouting COVID safety rules and removing their masks.
Another worker told NBC News that unvaccinated workers have found ways to get around adhering to safety rules by stealing stickers which are placed on the ID badges of workers so they can be identified as vaccinated.
“I saw people that found the roll of stickers and started passing them around. Nobody was paying attention. So he grabbed a roll of stickers off of a desk,” he said, adding: “It’s not really monitored.”
Meanwhile NBC has reportedly seen growing evidence of a surge in cases at some facilities.
Emails sent to a worker in Dallas seen by NBC suggest that Amazon has told workers on 10 separate days in July that there has been at least one confirmed case at the facility, up from just three in June.
Another worker from a facility west of St. Louis said he had received 18 notifications from about new cases this month.
“I get those (notifications) daily, it’s almost every day at 6pm,” he said.
“This is crazy.”
In response, Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti said in an emailed statement that the company does “strongly encourage” employees to be vaccinated, offering $40 per dose, regardless of where they receive a vaccination.
“As our employees and communities continue to get vaccinated and health authorities evolve guidance, we are continuously evaluating the temporary measures we implemented in response to COVID-19 and making adjustments in alignment with public health authority guidance.
“As a result, we will begin ramping down our U.S. testing operations by July 30, 2021.”