Amazon said Thursday that nearly 20,000 of its workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
But the online retail behemoth, revealing the data for the first time, said that the infection rate of its employees was well below that seen in the general U.S. population.
Amazon said in a corporate blog Thursday that it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 on 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market across the U.S.
It said it compared the COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as that for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce. That is 42% higher that Amazon’s actual rate.
The Seattle-based company also said it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.
The analysis comes as Amazon, along with other retailers and meat packing plants, have been under increasing pressure by workers and labor-backed groups to go public with their COVID cases.
The secrecy has left workers at various retailers including Amazon and Walmart to become amateur sleuths in their spare time. Unions and advocate groups have taken up the cause, too, creating lists or building online maps of stores where workers can self-report cases they know about.