The coronavirus may delay your Amazon Prime shipment by a few more days. On Saturday, the company warned that the surge in online shopping from the ongoing outbreak is straining its delivery services.
“In the short term, this is having an impact on how we serve our customers,” the company said in a blog post. “In particular, you will notice that we are currently out of stock on some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories. You will also notice that some of our delivery promises are longer than usual.”
Indeed, we placed an order on Sunday using an Amazon Prime account, which will typically deliver purchases in one or two days. However, the service told us to expect our delivery on Thursday. In San Francisco, we also tried to buy a bag of chips on Amazon Fresh, which can bring you groceries in two hours. But the service showed us no delivery windows for the next three days.
Yesterday, the flood in online orders also sparked a technical glitch in Amazon’s systems, which caused delays in Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods. The company’s websites for the services now warn that “inventory and delivery may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand.”
Despite the warnings, the company told PCMag the services remain in operation. “We’ve contacted customers, issued concessions, and are working around the clock to quickly to resolve the issue,” an Amazon spokesperson added.
The delays arrive as the coronavirus outbreak has sparked panic buying, leaving many store shelves empty of household goods. On Amazon’s own website, numerous items from top brands offering hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and masks, along with toilet paper, have mostly been sold out.
However, Amazon says it’s “working around the clock” to keep products in stock. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported the the e-commerce giant is planning to hire an additional 100,000 workers to address the surge in demand.
An Amazon fulfillment center in New York
In addition, the company has been instituting more cleaning at Amazon warehouses. But it remains unclear what Amazon will do if a warehouse reports a coronavirus case among its workers. We’ve asked Amazon and we’ll update the story if we hear back. In the meantime, an online petition is demanding Amazon shut down a warehouse site if a worker tests positive for the virus.
“It’s dangerous and wrong that Amazon hasn’t made it easier for people to stay home and told us —workers, customers, small-business sellers, and neighbors— what to expect if Amazon workers or facilities are exposed to COVID-19,” says the petition from Athena, a coalition of groups that’s been helping Amazon workers organize. If a shutdown occurs, all affected warehouse workers should be compensated, the petition adds.
Medical experts say it’s likely the coronavirus can survive on a contaminated surface for a few hours to three days, depending on the surrounding conditions. To stay safe, you can wash your hands after discarding the packaging on a product.