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N4T Investigators: Coronavirus concerns

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TUCSON – A photo purportedly shows four Amazon workers standing elbow-to-elbow in the online giant’s warehouse on S. Kolb Road.

Another photo shows six Amazon employees who are not social distancing, as they are certainly much less than six feet apart, and at least two of them have their masks on their chin, leaving their mouth and nose exposed.

“Nobody’s going around and enforcing the social distancing rules,” said a man who works at the warehouse.

He spoke with the News 4 Tucson Investigators under the condition of anonymity because he’s afraid he will get fired if identified.

He also told us that at least five warehouse workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee gave us five text messages he says he received from a warehouse manager, announcing each case.

The texts are dated from April 8 to April 20. 

“Once you get past security itself, and you start going to your workstation, that’s when social distancing is no longer being enforced," the employee said. "You could be in your workstation and you can have a couple groups of people within three feet of each other.”

Another Amazon employee at the warehouse told us on the phone she has the coronavirus and is under quarantine.

She claimed that a dozen employees have tested positive.

Furthermore, she and two other Amazon employees confirmed to the News 4 Tucson Investigators the man’s claims about what’s going on at the warehouse.

However, they don’t put all the blame on Amazon.

The employees said supervisors can’t constantly watch hundreds of workers in the huge warehouse to make sure they’re wearing protective masks, as required by the company. 

The worker News 4 Tucson Investigators interviewed said management has people closely watching employees when they are on break outside the warehouse but added, “If  you’re not going to enforce social distancing throughout the warehouse then why are you going to enforce social distancing in front of the warehouse? It’s ridiculous.”

An Amazon spokesperson did not answer our specific questions or respond to the employees’ allegations.

However, he did send us a lengthy statement.

The spokesperson, Timothy Carter, said management has made employees aware of the confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, Carter didn’t confirm the number of cases.

Carter said the company investigates immediately when it hears that social distancing isn’t being followed.

He said no stand-up meetings during shifts are allowed, thought that doesn’t appear to be the case in the photos we were given.

“We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site. We are encouraging those who are unwell to stay home and taking extreme measures to keep people safe in our buildings.”  

Timothy Carter, spokesperson for Amazon

Carter pointed out that all Amazon employees are having their temperature taken upon entering the warehouse.

The worker who spoke with News 4 Tucson Investigators said that’s true, but regardless, the pandemic has affected morale.

“The minute you walk in there, you can feel it,” the employee said. “I mean everybody’s afraid, either afraid with what’s going on at work or what’s going on at home.”

If you’re concerned about Amazon workers or any other shippers with COVID-19 touching your packages, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization said there’s a low risk for the disease to spread from packages. 

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

Matthew Schwartz

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