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Amazon facility ordered to shutdown over rising COVID-19 cases

File photo: A member of staff pushes a trolley as she collects orders at one of the Amazon's fulfilment centres. - Digital Journal Staff
File photo: A member of staff pushes a trolley as she collects orders at one of the Amazon's fulfilment centres. - Digital Journal Staff

The Amazon facility at 8050 Heritage Road in Brampton, Ontario employs thousands of people and while the rate of COVID-19 infection across Peel has been dropping, the rate inside the facility has been increasing significantly, according to Peel region public health officials, reports Toronto City News.

“This Amazon facility is in a vulnerable community and employs thousands of people,” Lawrence C. Loh, medical officer of health for the Peel region, said in the statement. “This was a difficult decision but a necessary one to stop further spread both in the facility and across our community.”

There have been over 600 coronavirus cases, with 240 cases identified in the past few weeks, Dr. Loh told CBC Canada, adding that this reflected “significant” growth.

All employees were to self-isolate for a period of two weeks, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, unless they’ve tested positive in the past 90 days and have completed their isolation period, the health agency said.

Amazon has been dealing with the coronavirus in its warehouses and other facilities for the past year when the first cases were detected among its workforce in European hot spots. However, the retail giant decided to keep facilities up and running, opting to use enhanced cleaning procedures and strict social distancing.

The Seattle Times points out that in the United States, there have been a couple of exceptions. An Amazon warehouse in Kentucky was ordered to close last year because of an outbreak, and a New Jersey warehouse temporarily shuttered in December after the discovery of asymptomatic cases.

Amazon has expanded from its modest origins two decades ago as an online bookseller to a global powe...

Amazon has expanded from its modest origins two decades ago as an online bookseller to a global powerhouse worth $1 trillion
Lionel BONAVENTURE, AFP/File


Amazon is appealing the closure decision
Amazon is appealing the decision, with spokesperson Dave Bauer saying, “We do not believe the data supports this closure.” Bauer added that Amazon is “doing everything we can to support [employees] and keep them safe through the pandemic.”

“Nothing’s more important than the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve,” he said. “We just completed our most recent round of mandatory testing with less than a one percent positivity rate, and there appears to be little risk of spread within our facility.”

The company also plans to pay all the employees for the time they spend in quarantine, according to CBC Canada.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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