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Amazon employees throughout the United States. are worried about going to work as the number of Amazon warehouses affected by the coronavirus has climbed to 19.
A handful of workers at the e-commerce corporation's Staten Island JFK8 warehouse staged a walkout Monday to demand a shutdown to their facility. so that it can be disinfected after at least two workers tested positive for the virus and other demands.
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"It's very scary because Amazon people come from everywhere. They take the MTA, take the ferry," JFK8 employee Barbara Chandler told FOX Business. "Once a person tested positive, they should have closed it down, made everyone take a test. … Clean out the whole facility."
Chandler tested positive for the virus last week after going to work on Tuesday. She's recovering and said she didn't have a fever when she first started feeling symptomatic.
Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company’s Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Amazon said coronavirus cases at JFK8 were not related as the infected workers did not have contact with one another. Chandler says JFK8 is the only place where she could have contracted the virus since she drives herself to work and had been staying home when she wasn't at work.
"We’re continuing to monitor the situation in our facilities and corporate offices, and we are taking proactive measures to protect employees and associates who have been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed or becomes ill," an Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business on Wednesday. "Like most global companies, we’ve had employees affected by this, and we’re doing all that we can to protect our employees and take the proper precautions as stated in WHO guidelines."
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Chandler says she plans to be back at work by mid-April because she needs the income, especially because her first paycheck since she was quarantined was short 15 hours although Amazon said she'd be paid in full.
Her former JFK8 coworker Christian Smalls won't be at work when she returns, however. Smalls, who spearheaded Monday's walkout, was fired for "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk." He had returned to JFK8 after being asked to self-isolate by the company because he had come in contact with Chandler on Tuesday.
Barbara Chandler works for Amazon at its Staten Island facility. Photo: Barbara Chandler
"Many more people are supposed to be home" Chandler said abut workers who should have self-isolated. She came in contact with coworkers other than Smalls while possibly contagious.
In Baltimore, another metropolitan area with a climbing number of coronavirus cases, Amazon delivery driver Maurice Baze told FOX Business he's scared every day he drives. Baze, who has HIV, typically makes 100 stops a shift, he said.
"It’s really rough for me," Baze said. "We don't know the effects of people with HIV and the virus yet."
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He said he needs the work but that Amazon's $2 per hour increase for hazard pay doesn't cut it.
"$18 an hour is not enough for me to be going out there risking my life," Baze said.
He said Amazon does provide him with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes but he was only directed to disinfect the cargo area of his van before and after each shift last week.
Amazon has distributed upwards of an additional 450,000 canisters of disinfectant wipes and 50,000 hand sanitizer bottles to employees in the past few weeks, according to the company.