As online orders for household goods and groceries skyrocket amidst the coronavirus quarantine, Amazon employees have found themselves in a difficult place lately between doing their jobs and protecting themselves from contracting the virus. Some were so worried that they staged walkouts nationwide to demand more protective measures from Amazon. So, on Wednesday, CEO Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit to an Amazon fulfillment center and a Whole Foods store in Dallas to show that the company cares about its employees.
Photos of Bezos donning a face mask, jeans and a white shirt first emerged on social media, and a video clip of the visit was tweeted by Amazon’s official news account on Thursday. In the footage, the world’s wealthiest man was seen walking by fulfillment stations and Whole Foods lanes, greeting employees and joking that he couldn’t shake their hand.
Then, just one day after Bezos’ visit, the Dallas warehouse reported a COVID-19 case, Bloomberg confirmed on Thursday. The employee inflected with the coronavirus was last at the site on Monday, Amazon said, and the facility “has undergone enhanced cleanings since the associate’s last day.”
Nationwide, dozens of Amazon facilities have now reported COVID-19 cases. Earlier this week, more than a dozen employees at an Amazon warehouse outside Philadelphia walked off their jobs upon learning that one of their colleagues had tested positive for COVID-19. Workers complained that Amazon had only started providing face masks this week and didn’t run enough tests in locations with confirmed cases.
Amazon says it is enforcing social distancing guidelines in all facilities and checking employee temperatures at the beginning of shifts. It has also temporarily raised hourly pay by $2 and doubled overtime pay.