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Temperature checks, masks new norm for Amazon employees

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San Francisco (AFP)

Amazon on Thursday said it is temperature-checking more than 100,000 workers daily and handing out masks as part of ramped-up defenses against the coronavirus pandemic.

The online e-commerce colossus made the announcement after a series of employee protests and complaints about safety for people delivering food and supplies to people hunkered down in homes.

Amazon this week began checking the temperature of workers arriving at US facilities, asking those with apparent fevers to go home, according to senior vice president of worldwide operations Dave Clark.

"Amazon associates and partners working in our operations network and data centers are among the many heroes of the COVID-19 crisis," Clark said in an online post.

"Nothing is more important to us than making sure that we protect the health of our teams, and we've been working around the clock since the early days of the outbreak to make changes to our processes and procure the necessary supplies for this."

Temperature checks were to be rolled out across Amazon's operations networks in the US and Europe, including Whole Foods grocery operations, by early next week.

Amazon also has made disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer standard supplies for workers, and has masks on the way, Clark said.

"The millions of masks we ordered weeks ago are now arriving, and we're distributing them to our teams as quickly as possible," Clark said.

Amazon said its supply of N95 respirator masks with filters were being donating to healthcare workers or to health and government organizations at cost.

Amazon has hired more than 80,000 new workers to help meet a surge in orders as people shop online instead of venture out for supplies or food.

Last month, the Seattle-based internet giant set a goal of hiring 100,000 people and investing $350 million to support employees and partners during the pandemic.

"We have already hired over 80,000 people into those roles, and have spent more than $150 million to support our team of associates and partners," Clark said.

In one incident, an estimated 50 to 60 employees joined a walkout at an Amazon worker warehouse in the New York borough of Staten Island, demanding that the facility be shut down and cleaned after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

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