coronavirus

Riverside County Amazon Facility Responds to COVID-19 Safety Concerns

IE Amazonians Unite says Amazon has "incrementally" made changes, but positive cases continue to pop up.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Some Amazon employees in the Inland Empire say the company is not doing enough to keep them safe from COVID-19.

For the first time, the NBC4 I-Team got a look at how Amazon is responding to those safety concerns; getting access to the company's 885,000 square foot fulfillment center in Eastvale.

Chris Turner, the General Manager of the facility showed our cameraman around, pointing out the changes made since the pandemic started, including more than 180 sanitization stations spread throughout the building.

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"We do have the sanitation stations available for everybody all the time," said Turner, "Which include the alcohol wipes, the spray sanitizer and the hand sanitizer, to make sure that everybody is comfortable." Other changes made include thermal temperature checks for anyone entering, mandatory masks and social distancing, staggering schedules, and creating seven open-air break rooms. The company has also created a group of workers Turner calls the Social Distancing Ambassador Team, whose job it is to circulate through the facility to make sure employees are adhering to the new safety procedures and protocols.

"They're very big on safety, I feel comfortable here, and I come to work every day and I don't have any worries," said Doug Larson, an employee Amazon provided to speak to NBC4.

Larson's opinion is in stark contrast to some Inland Empire employees posting on Facebook. They have created a group called IE Amazonians Unite, a page filled with criticism of the company for allegedly not being transparent about COVID-19 outbreaks.

In fact, the company has not confirmed how many positive cases of Covid-19 they've had at this facility or any other in Southern California.

When the I-Team asked Turner, the General Manager, he said, "I would say, I don't know. I think it's an interesting question. I really couldn't tell you." However, Turner said that if there is a confirmed positive case, the company notifies workers right away.

"The text message usually goes out within a couple of hours and it notifies everyone within the building," said Turner. "So everybody gets the same text message that says 'Hey, we do have a confirmed case of Covid-19 here at LGB3 and the last time the person was on site was x date.'" Turner said that anyone who comes into contact with an employee who tests positive for Covid-19 would be asked to quarantine at home, with pay.

The Facebook group, IE Amazonians Unite says more needs to be done. It is now circulating a petition calling, in part, for any facility with a positive case to be shut down for a minimum of two week while employees get their normal pay and everything is thoroughly sterilized.

Turner says he is confident the facility is safe and that the majority of employees feel the same.

"I think like any company in the country, everybody is dealing with it. I think our goal is really just make sure we're doing everything we can for the health and safety of our associates." The I-Team reached out to the Riverside County Health Department who told us its aware of positive cases of Covid-19 at Amazon locations within Riverside County, but could not provide specific numbers.

IE Amazonians Unite responded to the I-Team on Friday, saying Amazon has "incrementally" made changes, but positive cases continue to pop up.


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