Amazon considering COVID-19 tests for its warehouse workers, report claims

Trevor Mogg

Amazon’s recently announced coronavirus safety measures for its warehouse workers could be bolstered by rapid testing for the virus, officially known as COVID-19.

Amazon has been in contact with Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher Scientific about the possibility of using the companies’ testing kits to screen workers for the virus, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

Details are scarce at this time, but Reuters says the company is interested in trialing a testing procedure at one of its warehouses close to its headquarters in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon is yet to confirm any such plan, but Abbott Laboratories said on Saturday that it had been in touch with the online shopping giant about the idea of providing testing kits for its employees.

Reuters’ report notes that while Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher Scientific are believed to be interested in assisting Amazon, “the U.S. government is taking up all of their testing capacity at present,” with priority given to frontline health care workers in outbreak hot spots.

As more communities around the world are put into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus, so increases the importance of delivery services like Amazon as people go online in greater numbers than ever to buy food and other essential items.

But the increased work pressure and risk of contracting COVID-19 recently prompted Amazon employees to voice concerns over warehouse safety, with some going on strike. A number of workers have already tested positive for the virus.

Keen to keep its workers on side, and for its massive shipping operation to remain efficient, Amazon last week announced new safety measures that include regular temperature checks for warehouse personnel, the distribution of millions of masks, and a more reliable supply of disinfectant wipes and sanitizer.

In addition, a worker who is diagnosed with the virus will now receive extra paid time off. The company says it’s also set up a system where people who are known to have been in close proximity with a diagnosed individual will be given paid leave so that they can isolate at home for 14 days. Testing workers more rapidly would enable Amazon to better understand how the virus is affecting its workforce, at the same time allowing it to send infected workers home for rest while stopping healthy workers from becoming infected.

Digital Trends has reached out to all three companies for more information on Amazon’s reported plan to secure testing kits and we will update this article if we hear back.