How Safe Are Amazon, UPS Deliveries?

Amazon and delivery companies face the coronavirus
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2020 2:00 PM CDT
Everyone Wants Deliveries. But Are They Safe?
In this Dec. 17, 2019, photo Amazon workers bring stowed containers to their specific trucks after Amazon robots deliver separated packages by zip code at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Amazon, UPS, and FedEx are grappling with scary new realities as the coronavirus adds to their workload and affects their business practices. For example, 12 UPS drivers across nine states are saying the company doesn't protect them. They tell NBC News that UPS hasn't given drivers protective gear (like masks or gloves) or established rules for keeping a safe distance from customers. Hand sanitizer would be nice too, they say, and while UPS does advise hand-washing, it's not really doable on delivery routes. "I mean, we're at high risk," says a driver in Fresno, Calif. "It's not a matter of if, but when somebody gets sick." For more:

  • Sick workers: Workers at delivery companies tell the New York Times they still show up for work, even with coronavirus symptoms—because they're afraid to lose their jobs. A UPS package sorter California says her "throat feels like broken glass" but she "can't afford to be homeless." For the record, experts say it's unlikely that package recipients will get infected because the virus doesn't last long on cardboard.

  • Amazon case: Amazon has confirmed its first known coronavirus case at a US facility. Workers at a Queens, NY, warehouse were texted Wednesday about the development, which the Atlantic calls "a major threat to Amazon's operations. Millions of people across the nation are cloistered inside their homes, many of them relying on the company to provide basic goods."
  • Reopened: Amazon closed the Queens warehouse for a day, put the worker in quarantine, and says it's practicing "enhanced daily deep cleaning" at its workplaces. But Vox reports that a local workers group isn't happy: "This facility is compromising our health and the health of the whole city," tweets Amazonians United New York City.
  • Fedex case: A FedEx worker in Memphis is at home recovering after testing positive for the virus, WREG reports. The company says it has closed the office "for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting."
  • Amazon & the CDC: Workers at two big Amazon biggest fulfillment centers around Seattle say they're still not being checked for coronavirus symptoms, despite CDC recommendations, per the Seattle Times. They also say CDC advice on social distancing is being ignored.
  • UPS customers: While FedEx and UPS drivers are wary of customers, the reverse is also true. The Wall Street Journal reports that customers are asking drivers if they might be infected and even requiring a health test before they step inside. Meanwhile, UPS has dropped its old signature process; drivers now step back while customers sign a document stuck on their door. And yes, customers use their own pen.
  • Amazon supplies: Snopes throws cold water on the notion that Amazon is stopping all deliveries besides medical supplies. In fact, the retail giant has only stopped third-party sellers from storing and shipping non-essential items until April 5. Amazon is still selling all items provided they remain in stock.
  • Amazon hiring: Amazon is facing an "unprecedented surge" in orders and hiring 100,000 new workers, CNBC reports.
(More coronavirus stories.)

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