Earlier this week, Amazon informed staff members at its Staten Island fulfillment center that a worker had died from COVID-19. The news was first noted by The Verge. The employee began to exhibit symptoms in early April, before being placed on quarantine April 11. He never returned to the site.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues.”
Amazon says it doesn’t believe any of the individual cases at the Staten Island facility are directly linked. It notes that the employee was not contact-traced to any others in the warehouse.
Classified as an essential service, Amazon never shut down operations amid local stay at home orders. Last month, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post reported in mid-April that workers in at least 74 of Amazon’s warehouse and fulfillment centers have tested positive for the virus. In late-March, an employee at the company’s facility in Hawthorne, Calif. died from the virus a few days after exhibiting symptoms.
The company has been criticized for failing to provide proper protection against the spread of the virus, as workers push to get packages out to house-bound consumers. It’s an accusation Amazon has flatly denied, both in statements and in Jeff Bezos’s shareholder letter, which laid out safeguards and plans to build a testing facility exclusively for Amazon employees.
The company began offering guidelines after a Staten Island worker tested positive in mid-March. It’s not clear how many workers have tested positive for or died from the virus.
The company was one of several prominent retailers targeted in last Friday’s May Day protests, while earlier this week, VP Tim Bray left the company out of protest over the firings of multiple whistleblowers.
JFK8, the massive Staten Island facility that serves as a hub for New York City, has been a focal point for multiple Amazon protests during the pandemic.