Amazon starts developing COVID-19 test for employees

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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An e-tail giant is taking a hands-on approach to COVID-19 testing.

Amazon has begun building incremental testing capacity for COVID-19. A team of Amazon employees – including research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative. 

The e-tailer has started assembling the equipment needed to build its first lab and hopes to start testing small numbers of its frontline employees soon.

“A next step might be regular testing of all employees, including those showing no symptoms,” Amazon said in a corporate blog post. Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. But, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available…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.”

Amazon has been taking a number of steps to protect its fulfillment center, delivery, and brick-and-mortar store employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company is performing temperature checks on more than 100,000 employees per day across its entire U.S. and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores, with any employee registering a fever over 100.4 told to go home and is only allowed to return after going three days without a fever.

In addition, protective face masks are available to employees in all locations. Amazon is also conducting daily audits of the new health and safety measures it has put into place and has assigned machine learning technologists to capture opportunities to improve social distancing in its buildings using internal camera systems.