With thousands of its own workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as warehouse workers, delivery personnel, grocery workers and more, Amazon isn't waiting around for testing to reach its necessary capacity.
The tech giant said this week it is launching its own lab and getting to work. In a post on the company's Day One blog, Amazon said that short of a vaccine right now, regular testing would make a huge difference in fighting the virus. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence," the post read.
Workers at Amazon's Eastvale fulfillment center in Riverside County filed complaints with state and county regulators on Wednesday complaining about what they say are dangerous working conditions at the facility that could expose them to the novel coronavirus. Three workers at the facility tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Los Angeles Times. And cases had also occurred at five other Amazon facilities in the region.
Amazon is assembling a team of its own workers with a variety of skills, including research scientists, program managers, software engineers and procurement specialists, to start building out incremental testing capacity.
Those workers have moved from their regular jobs and are gathering equipment to build out a lab in preparation of testing front-line employees. Amazon is unsure how far it will get "in the relevant timeframe," but said it's worth trying.
The move comes as Amazon has had to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks at dozens of fulfillment centers that power its delivery infrastructure. The company has faced criticism for its handling of some aspects of the crisis, while maintaining that it is taking "extreme measures" to protect and compensate employees whom it calls "heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need."
This story first appeared on GeekWire.