Amazon has started to develop a test for the novel coronavirus in order to help restart the battered economy.
CEO Jeff Bezos in his annual letter to shareholders that regular testing for every industry is needed to “both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running.”
He said for that to happen, society needs “vastly more testing capacity” than is currently available. He’s assembled a team of Amazon employees from various units to create new tools to test for Covid-19.
Bezos said Amazon will begin testing “small numbers” of employees soon. “We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant time frame, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn,” he wrote.
Bezos said in his letter that he’s focused on the safety of Amazon’s global workforce, despite ongoing criticism that the company isn’t doing enough and has fired outspoken critics.
The company has made 150 “significant process changes” in both its operations network and Whole Foods, he said. That includes temperature checks, increased sanitation of facilities and offering personal protection equipment, like masks, to employees.
Coronavirus cases have been reported at Amazon facilities in Washington, California and New York among others, prompting calls for fulfillment centers to be closed for deep cleaning. Employees have also staged walkouts to protest Amazon’s decision to keep warehouses open. Amazon has recently hired roughly 200,000 new workers to meet increased demand for household essentials and other goods spurred by demand.
Scammers have also found Amazon’s website to be a ripe playground. Bezos said that it has suspended more than 6,000 seller accounts on its platform from around the world for price gouging on essential items during the pandemic. It has also removed more than 500,000 listings from Amazon’s website for price gouging and increased reporting of price gougers to the authorities.
“To accelerate our response to price-gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us,” Bezos said.