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Kenosha County Officials Upset Over Amazon’s Handling Of COVID-19 Cases

Report: More Than 30 Coronavirus Cases At Kenosha County Warehouse

An Amazon fulfillment center
The Amazon DTW1 fulfillment center is shown in Romulus, Mich., April 1, 2020. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Kenosha County health officials say they’re not receiving cooperation from Amazon after employees at the warehouse along Interstate 94 have contracted COVID-19.

“To date, the Kenosha County Division of Health has struggled to receive coordinated cooperation from Amazon regarding the handling of COVID-19 cases within the company’s Kenosha campus,” officials said in written statement.

According to the Kenosha County Division of Health, 18 Amazon workers who are Kenosha County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at least 32 workers at the Kenosha campus have contracted the virus in the past two months.

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Amazon employees at the campus contacted the Journal Sentinel for the story.

“The Amazon campus is made of up two facilities, MKE1 and MKE5, each with their own independent organization structure, which makes it difficult to coordinate a full outbreak picture with the organization as a whole,” Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit said in the statement.

“Due to many employees living in or being tested in Illinois, which is on a different public health reporting system, the Division of Health has been unable to accurately track cases in the facility, or to inform employees who may be at risk,” Freiheit said in the statement. “Without being in the facility, we remain unaware of whether employees have proper face coverings, and whether they are properly distanced from one another.”

Amazon spokeswoman Jen Crowcroft said steps have been taken to keep employees safe including more than 1,000 sanitation stations, masks for employees and extra wipes and hand sanitizers at work stations.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our employees, and we welcome a visit from the Kenosha County Health Department to see the investments we’ve made in safety, including enhanced daily cleaning, temperature checks, mandatory masks and social distancing measures,” Crowcroft said. “In addition, we’ve started our first COVID-19 testing pilot at a handful of sites, and plan to make this available to employees at MKE1 and MKE5 soon.”

This is not the first time Amazon has been criticized for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, more than 350 workers from about 40 warehouses across the country staged protests, saying Amazon’s measures to protect them against coronavirus or to provide them with paid sick leave was inadequate, according to NPR.

Kenosha County Health officials said they could potentially partner with the Wisconsin National Guard to test all employees at the Amazon facility.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said as of right now DHS is not involved in the Amazon outbreak.

“These individual workplace cases and clusters are required to be reported and posted as a public health investigation,” Westergaard said during a press conference Thursday. “In every such investigation, we are available and our role is to help local health departments.”