Amazon is ramping up hiring in the U.S. to meet demand even as new cases of coronavirus have emerged in ten of its warehouses throughout the world. The company is receiving pressure to temporarily shut down from unions as well as workers rights groups.
The company plans to hire 100,000 new workers for warehouse and delivery jobs according to Business Insider. Walmart is taking similar steps and is looking for around 150,000 new workers.
Seven confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in Amazon warehouses across the U.S. including locations in New York, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and Connecticut.
The company’s delivery station in Queens, New York was the first U.S. facility to report a case and was temporarily shut down. Rights advocacy group—Athena—noted that employees at Amazon’s New York warehouse needed to continue working during a cleaning of the factory after the case was reported.
The company has already mentioned cases of the virus in three of its locations in Europe—two cases in Spain and a case in Italy. Those warehouses were also kept open and a strike was started in Italy to protest the situation.
Workers have noted that while Amazon is adding more people to its workforce, it is not providing proper protection for them.
In a release, Athena said, “As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no plan to shut down the [Staten Island, New York] facility.”
Amazon has made temporary closures to some of its facilities to clean them but has not completely stopped operations in any.
When referring to the recent New York case, a spokeswoman for Amazon said, “We are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site.”
She also said that the employee who tested positive was working up to March 11. Amazon asked employees who were in contact with the person to take two weeks of paid leave.
Amazon has introduced a rule that workers have to keep at least three feet apart The company also put out many more bottles of hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial spray added that it is also keeping the facilities as clean as possible.
Some of the workers noted that they still have to work in tight spaces with each other and the sanitizing equipment is often empty or stolen.
One employee in Jacksonville Florida said that communication about COVID-19 was “very, very poor” when speaking with Business Insider.
“Amazon, like Trump, was slow to respond, vague with the truth, and values dollars over lives,” the worker said.