Amazon has begun outfitting an in-house COVID-19 testing lab to help screen its frontline warehouse and delivery workers.
According to data compiled by the Financial Times, more than 50 Amazon-owned facilities have seen confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. The retailing giant has already instituted daily temperature checks, as more than 100,000 people arrive for work each day, while also distributing masks to its shipping sites and its Whole Foods grocery stores.
Its next steps may include the regular testing of all employees, including those who do not show any symptoms, Amazon said in a company blog post, featuring pictures of masked workers setting up molecular sequencing hardware capable of scanning samples for the virus.
“Unfortunately, today we live in a world of scarcity where COVID-19 testing is heavily rationed,” the company said. “Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running.”
“Until we have an effective vaccine available in billions of doses, high-volume testing capacity would be of great help, but getting that done will take collective action by NGOs, companies, and governments.”
As a small start, Amazon has retasked a variety of employees, including research scientists, software engineers and program managers, to lead its internal testing initiative. The company plans to start testing limited numbers of workers at its first lab before scaling up operations incrementally.
“We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others,” the company said.