A worker from Amazon's Staten Island fulfillment center has died from coronavirus, Amazon has confirmed to NY1. This is the first coronavirus-related death at Amazon's Staten Island facility.
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This comes after Amazon has seen mounting pressure from their workers to better protect them from COVID-19. As reported by NY1’s Amanda Farinacci, one Amazon worker was fired after organizing a COVID-19 walkout — though Amazon disputes the reason for the employee’s dismissal.
According to the company, the employee who died from the virus was last on site April 5 and received a positive COVID-19 test result on April 11. The company says the employee remained in quarantine after that confirmation.
Amazon says they have reached out to the employee’s team individually and are in the process of updating the rest of the site’s workers, as well as offering support and counseling to those who need it.
The company claims the employee has not been found to have spread the virus to any other employees while working on site.
"Yesterday's death of a worker at Amazon's Staten Island facility is especially tragic,” said the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in a statement. “Nobody should have to put their life at risk when they go to work. They need to know that their employer is providing them a safe work environment - but Amazon has failed to do that.” The union goes on to call for Amazon to “immediately close the Staten Island, New York facility and disinfect it.”
In a response to RWDSU's statement, Amazon Spokespoerson Lisa Levandowski said that the company's top concern is ensuring the health and safety of their employees.
"We expect to invest approximately $4 billion from April to June on COVID-related initiatives to get products to customers and keep employees safe," Levandowski said. "This includes spending more than $800 million in the first half of the year on COVID-19 safety measures, with investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and developing our own COVID-19 testing capabilities, etc."
Amazon declined to comment on the number of their who employees tested positive for coronavirus.