In a letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said regular testing may be a critical component in protecting Amazonians.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll, Amazon has become a critical lifeline for many individuals and organizations. The company recently hired an additional 100,000 warehouse workers, only to announce it would hire an additional 75,000 more to help keep up with demand.
At the same time, the company is facing challenges keeping its workers safe. As workers become infected, there is an ever increasing threat of the virus spreading and shutting down entire warehouses and distribution centers, threatening the entire supply chain. To help reduce the risk, Amazon already has a team working on building out incremental testing capacity.
“A next step in protecting our employees might be regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms,” writes Bezos. “Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. For this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available. If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus. Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence.
“We’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity. A team of Amazonians—from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers—moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative. We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon. We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn.”
Bezos’ announcement is good news and will hopefully help ensure Amazon is able to keep its employees safe, and keep the supply chain running.