• Amazon is planning to step up its protective measures for workers to check them for coronavirus symptoms.
  • Starting next week, Amazon warehouse workers and workers at Amazon-owned Whole Foods will get masks and daily temperature checks.
  • Those new protections come as coronavirus projections continue to worry public and private sector health officials, who keep warning the worst of the crisis is yet to come.
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After many of its workers have complained for weeks now of inadequate protective measures against the coronavirus and some even staged a walkout in recent days, Amazon is now pledging new steps to protect the health of workers in its massive warehouses as well as at Amazon-owned Whole Foods.

Starting next week, those workers will be given daily temperature checks, since having a fever is one of the signs of coronavirus infection. Sources have told Reuters that Amazon plans to use no-contact forehead thermometers at warehouse entrances to measure all workers coming in, and anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit will be sent home.

Also by next week, all of those locations should be stocked with masks for workers to wear — the surgical kind made of fabric, not the N95 particle-blocking masks so desperately needed by front-line health workers right now.

These are major steps for a company that’s still being heavily relied upon to deliver goods around the world in spite of the global coronavirus pandemic that’s still raging. The vast majority of Americans are confined to their homes right now to support social distancing in an attempt to interrupt the spread of the virus, which continues to infect and kill scores of new victims daily — all while Amazon packages keep moving through the company’s vast delivery network.

Not that it’s business as usual for the e-commerce giant. If you visit the Amazon website today, you’ll see a notice at the top that reads: “We are giving priority to items that our customers need the most. You may experience shipping delays.”

The protections for warehouse workers, meanwhile, follow a rollout of mask deliveries that’s already underway, and Amazon has likewise already started checking workers’ temperatures in the Seattle area as well as in New York. Also this week, Amazon rival Walmart said it, too, would start offering workers masks and daily temperature checks.

If Amazon workers have to be sent home because of a fever, under these new measures they’ll have to stay home until they’ve had three days with no fever.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in a memo to the company’s workers he penned in recent days, said the company’s leadership is meeting daily “to identify additional ways” it can improve on “preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.