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Amazon says nearly 20,000 workers have tested positive for COVID-19

The company said it is conducting thousands of tests each day and plans to expand the rate to 50,000 per day at 650 sites by the end of this month. File Photo by Friedemann Vogel/ EPA-EFE
The company said it is conducting "thousands" of tests each day and plans to expand the rate to 50,000 per day at 650 sites by the end of this month. File Photo by Friedemann Vogel/ EPA-EFE

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Amazon on Thursday announced that nearly 20,000 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past six months.

The company listed the precise tally at 19,816 presumed or confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus among its 1.37 million Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees in the United States between March and mid-September.

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Amazon said the number of cases were 42% lower than an estimate of 33,952, previously based on analysis of the Amazon and Whole Foods Market workforce against the general population rate.

The company also said it is conducting "thousands" of tests each day and plans to expand the rate to 50,000 per day at 650 sites by the end of this month.

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There have been at least eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths among Amazon workers this year, but the company did not include deaths in its report.

Labor groups, politicians and regulators have been calling for the retail giant to disclose its COVID-19 figures among its workforce.

Amazon previously declined to specify the numbers, suggesting they would be misleading and lack context. Thursday, it said the number of cases would be "more powerful" if other companies shared similar data.

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"We hope other large companies will also release their detailed learnings and case rates because doing so will help all of us," Amazon said. "This is not an arena where companies should compete -- this is an arena where companies should help one another."

Walmart said in April that fewer than 1% of its 1.5 million U.S. employees had tested positive.

In May, workers from Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and FedEx held a "sickout" strike due to what they described as flawed policies and lack of protective equipment that may expose them to the virus.

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