Amazon will not shut down its e-commerce operations despite lacking enough face masks to protect all employees and contractors in its warehouses. In an open letter, co-founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the status of Amazon’s logistics and supply chain amid the coronavirus outbreak. It continues to distribute orders in most regions, but Bezos confirmed the people behind these processes to gather, ship, and deliver items are unable to work from home. So they’re now left vulnerable as Amazon can’t obtain face masks due to the global shortage.
Bezos didn’t hide the fact that Amazon relies on these people significantly. Since they’re responsible for the distribution of orders, employees and contractors located in warehouses can’t remain at home and do their job. Amazon needs them if it plans on fulfilling customers’ orders while the coronavirus outbreak carries into the next few weeks and months. It does put employees and contractors’ health at risk, though.
It appears Amazon will just wait until face masks are available again. Bezos said purchase orders for millions of units were submitted, but few of them have been fulfilled. Governments around the world are directing the supply of face masks to hospitals, clinics, and other high-priority medical providers.
“There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone,” Bezos said in his note. “My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.”
Last week, one employee located in New York City tested positive for the coronavirus. Amazon closed the warehouse that measures 80,000 square feet and oversees 200 workers. It has since reopened the Queens-based facility after a deep cleaning, but workplace organization Amazonians United New York City still feels the workers’ health can get compromised.
Amazon announced on Saturday it’ll raise overtime pay to double an employee or contractor’s hourly rate, according to Reuters.