Amazon delivery drivers are on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis as COVID-19 continues to spread across the US. Drivers told Business Insider they regularly deliver upwards of 250 packages a day.
As the CDC recommends staying home to distance from others, drivers continue to deliver essentials to people isolating at home. Their service allows people to stay home by providing essentials one would normally have to get at a store.
While these drivers are considered a part of the essential US workforce, many say they don’t have access to adequate supplies to protect themselves, healthcare benefits, sick leave, or even 20 free seconds to wash their hands in between deliveries,as the CDC recommends.
Many of these drivers are contracted, which providesAmazon with legal distancefrom responsibility for their wellbeing, according to Reuters.
On April 2, Amazon announced additional safety measures to help keep employees safe from coronavirus, including temperature checks, health and safety audits, and supplying face masks.
In the coronavirus pandemic, delivery drivers have become essential front-line workers, as public officials encourage millions to stay home and practice social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading.
In response to the crisis, Amazon, one of the biggest delivery companies in the US, has temporarily suspended all non-essential products from being shipped until April 15. They will continue to ship medical supplies and household staples.
Joseph Alvarado, who delivers Amazon packages in Orange County, California, said he once made over 150 stops to deliver more than 225 packages in one day, which forced him to touch the inside and outside of his van and several doors and gates.
Alvarado also said that Amazon’s target delivery speed doesn’t give him time to wash his hands during his shift. In 2018, Amazon delivery drivers told Business Insider they regularly make more than 250 deliveries a day, which is about 100 more deliveries than they made about two years prior.
Alvarado works for an Amazon contractor. This means that he delivers packages for Amazon, but he works for a company that Amazon hired, rather than Amazon itself. This protects Amazon from the costs of health insurance and from liabilities.
Amazon told Reuters it requires its delivery contractors to offer healthcare coverage, but some drivers don’t take it because they can’t afford the high out-of-pocket costs. Contract drivers who deliver for Amazon in the US have a starting pay of $US15 an hour.
Amazon said it’s cleaning workspaces three times more often because of the pandemic, and it’s working on providing available safety supplies to employees.
According to Amazon, drivers are responsible for wiping down all surfaces in their vehicles with provided wipes at the beginning and end of each shift, and they’re encouraged to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands for at least 20 seconds frequently.
They also say they ensure safe distances and other preventative health measures for employees while working, and they will continue to adapt to the pandemic as it unfolds.
Business Insider reported that seven Amazon workers tested positive for COVID-19 in warehouses across the US on March 25. On Tuesday, the company fired a worker who had helped organise a strike against the company’s safety response. The former employee said his dismissal was retaliation, the company said it was for “violating social distancing guidelines.”
Amazon is hiring. CEO Jeff Bezos shared a letter to employees about the coronavirus on his personal Instagram profile, which included plans to hire 100,000 new workers to handle surging demand as the virus continues to spread. On April 2, Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Amazon posted an update on the Amazon blog saying that 80,000 of those positions have been filled.