Amazon outlines safety measures, plans to test employees in Kenosha

Amazon outlines safety measures, plans to test employees in Kenosha

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Amazon facility in Kenosha

As Kenosha County gets ready to embark on a major expansion and upgrade of Highway S, residents and business owners wonder if deliveries from Amazon will be disrupted.

Testing for COVID-19 will be made available to employees at Amazon facilities in Kenosha, and the company will invite Kenosha County Health Department public health employees in to see what safety measures are being used, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

“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,” Amazon spokesperson Jen Crowcroft said in a statement to the Kenosha News received after the print deadline Thursday.

“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 (the two Kenosha facilities) soon.”

The statement came after Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit said the company has not been cooperative. Freiheit confirmed Thursday that 18 Kenosha County residents who work at Amazon have tested positive for COVID-19. This number is believed to be higher given the company employs many who live outside the county.

Crowcroft said while some companies have cited HIPAA compliance as a reason to not be transparent about the number of confirmed cases in their buildings, Amazon has taken a different approach and is sharing with all employees when a confirmed case occurs in one of the buildings.

When a COVID-19 case is confirmed, it is communicated to all individuals who work at that site — not just to those who’ve come in close contact with the diagnosed individual, Crowcroft said. This is done by phone and/or text.

She said the company is following guidance from the CDC, the World Health Organization and local health authorities, and immediately alerts the local healthy authority when made aware of a confirmed case. The company will alert any associate who had close contact with a confirmed case, ask them not to return to the site and to self-quarantine for 14 days, and pay them for their time at home.

Crowcoft said for sites like MKE1 and MKE5 that are near a neighboring state border, the company contacts the health department in the county where the individual resides.

She said the company welcomes a visit from the Kenosha County Health Department to see the investments made in safety measures throughout the sites. Specific to MKE5 and MKE1 this includes:

A combined total of 1, 074 sanitation stations placed throughout both sites. MKE1 has 850 and MKE 5 has 224 sanitation stations.

• Over 65,000 masks have been provided at MKE1 and over 268,000 masks to employees at MKE5 as of May 20.

• Extra wipes and hand sanitizers are available at every work station, including over 138 gallons of hand sanitizer at MKE1 and over 220 gallons of hand sanitizer at MKE5.

• Nitrile Gloves are available and on hand (more than 31,500 pairs at MKE1 and more than 63,278 at MKE5 as of May 20).

• The company doubled the janitorial staff to support cleaning measures at sites including MKE1 and MKE5

• Increased the frequency and intensity of daily cleaning at both sites including regular sanitization of all door handles, stairway handrails, elevator buttons, lockers, and touch screens, and disinfectant spraying is daily for the high touch points and weekly for the entire sites at MKE5 and MKE1.

In contrast to comments made by employees Thursday about the conditions inside Amazon in Kenosha, another employee said Friday said the screening process upon entering the buildings is well managed.

“They do enforce strict standards going in,” the employee replied on Facebook. “You can only go in one way and you have to go one by one to get your temp taken.”

He said everyone wears a mask inside, including managers.

“I haven’t gone into work a single day and have seen a manager not wearing one,” he wrote. “They have staff specifically cleaning and walking around ensuring people maintain social distancing guidelines and they are strict about it.”

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