Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
FedEx and Amazon are responding to employees who claim the shipping companies were not doing enough to keep their factory workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amanda Redmond told WCPO 9 News she left her job at FedEx because the company was not taking enough precautions.
“They don't clean our work stations. We all use scanners to scan our packages. Those aren't cleaned at all,” said Redmond.
WCPO 9 News reported about Redmond's concerns on March 27. She said she has a seizure disorder and she did not want to risk COVID-19 complications.
“It is a horrible decision to have to make,” said Redmond.
Others came forward, describing unclean, sweaty wristbands that employees share. They say people were packed in entry ways because of increased hiring.
FedEx responded after our reports:
"In addition to consulting with a leading health and safety expert,ç implemented at our Independence facility include:
• Ensuring a supply of disinfectant, hand sanitizer and latex gloves
• Increased onsite janitorial and disinfecting measures
• Individualized wristbands that are not shared between employees
• Scanner disinfecting measures after each sort shift
• Enhanced social distancing practices at check-in and throughout our operations
• Increased ventilation throughout the facility
• Installation of touchless doors where possible
• Increased installation of hand sanitizer dispensers
• Regular communication with team members to reinforce the latest safety guidance and address concerns."
At Kentucky’s Amazon location, some employees want hazard pay after they say managers sent out a voicemail over the weekend alerting them that one of the workers tested positive for COVID-19.
The voicemail said that employee was last in the CVG building on March 31.
Employees say now that Amazon requires temperature checks and provides masks. However, some say it took too long for changes. One man who wanted to remain anonymous in fear of losing his job said in the building where he works, the social distancing policy was 3 feet as of March 27. That changed after WCPO 9 News alerted Amazon.
Amazon did not confirm the COVID-19 case in its response to WCPO 9 News. Spokesperson Timothy Carter wrote, “We’ve implemented a broad suite of new benefits changes for employees in our operations and logistics network including an additional $2 per hour, double time for overtime, and paid time off benefits for regular part-time and seasonal employees.”
Carter’s statement said all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine receive up to two weeks of pay.
FedEx announced Tuesday that it will enhance its sick leave policy as well. Spokesperson Meredith Miller said, “FedEx Ground employees will receive up to two weeks’ pay based on their regular work schedule if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed under a medically-required quarantine. If an illness extends beyond the sick leave period, certain full-time employees are eligible for short term disability benefits. In addition, FedEx Ground is implementing temporary compensation adjustments in certain markets that are experiencing COVID-19 related shortages, much as we do during our peak season.”
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail email@example.com
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.