Amazon COVID-19 Outbreak Reaches Into Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove
The Amazon coronavirus outbreak that impacted the Shakopee fulfillment center has also impacted workers at the company’s warehouses in Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove.
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted at least 88 employees at the 860,000-square-foot Shakopee facility, according to Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials. In addition, the outbreak has reportedly impacted at least 14 Amazon workers at the Brooklyn Park warehouse and at least another five workers at the company’s Maple Grove facility.
“The bulk of the cases occurred in May,” said Kris Ehresmann, MDH’s infectious disease division director. “There have been a couple of cases since then.”
Workers at the Shakopee plant demanded Wednesday that Amazon temporarily close the facility so it can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. They also asked Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to step in if the company doesn’t take action. Approximately 1,000 people work at the Shakopee facility. Across all Amazon sites in Minnesota, the company has more than 15,000 hourly employees and partners.
Amazon Statement to CCX News
Amazon officials addressed concerns about whether the spread of the novel coronavirus was the result of safety protocols and procedures at the company’s facilities. Jen Crowcroft, Amazon spokesperson, provided the following statement Wednesday evening to CCX News.
We utilize a variety of data to closely monitor the safety of our buildings and there is strong evidence that our employees are not proliferating the virus at work—what we see generally is that the overall rate of infection and increase or decrease of total cases is highly correlated to the overall community rate of infection. Over the months of COVID-19, thousands of employees and partners have worked at our Shakopee site and we believe strongly people are not spreading the virus at work given the robust safety measures we’ve put into place.” – Jen Crowcroft, Amazon spokesperson.
MDH Conducted Site Visit to Amazon
Ehresmann said Wednesday at MDH’s press briefing that a state workplace team reached out to Amazon management to work on steps to improve safety of company employees.
“They have taken those steps. And we’ve seen a reduction in cases,” said Ehresmann.
According to MDH officials, the state went over a range of safety protocols, including whether Amazon workers had 6 feet of distance between them to how the company handled breaks, making sure a large number of employees weren’t taking them at the same time. MDH also made recommendations in how they screen employees and looked at whether the company can put up physical barriers between workers, said Ehresmann.
Crowcroft says state health and safety regulatory agencies have inspected 91 of its facilities across the country since March and all on-site inspections have passed.
“Each time, Amazon has been praised for going beyond current compliance requirements,” Crowcroft said.
Amazon also now requires workers to wear face masks and conduct temperature checks. The company lists its safety steps here.
MDH officials also have answered questions about whether Amazon packages can transfer the virus to customers. Ehresmann has said that risk is low. She also said some studies have shown cardboard is not a good surface for keeping the virus viable, compared to plastic and stainless steel surfaces. You can read one of those studies here.