Kenosha health officials frustrated Amazon won't share information about COVID-19 cases

Posted at 10:44 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 23:44:07-04

KENOSHA — The Kenosha County Health Department wants to get inside Amazon’s fulfillment center just east of Interstate 94 to better understand the extent of the coronavirus impact on employees.

The health department expressed frustration Thursday that the company hasn’t been willing to share its number of COVID-19 cases.  

A man who claims he’s an employee at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Kenosha spoke with TMJ4 News under the condition of anonymity due to fears he would lose his job for breaking company policy that doesn’t allow employees to speak with media about work issues. He wants to expose his concerns about company transparency.

“Everything that they tell us, ‘oh well, your safety’s our number one priority. We’ll let you know if you’ve come into contact with anyone with COVID-19.’ Well, they don’t,” the man said.

While TMJ4 News hasn’t been able to independently confirm this man works for Amazon in Kenosha, he shared several texts he claims the company sends to all employees each time a new coronavirus case is discovered. He said he received the latest text from Amazon Thursday night.

“Since late March, I’ve received 33 or 34,” he said. “So and so disappeared for the last week, we don’t know where he is. It goes on Facebook, oh, he’s got COVID-19. Well, I was just working next to him a couple days ago. Amazon didn’t come and tell me.”

The Kenosha County Health Department released a statement Thursday regarding COVID-19 at the Kenosha Amazon campus.

“To date, the Kenosha County Division of Health has struggled to receive coordinated cooperation from Amazon regarding the handling of COVID-19 cases within the company’s Kenosha campus,” said Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit.

The Kenosha County Health Department said it hasn’t been able to independently confirm a case count at the Amazon facility because many of its employees live or are being tested in Illinois which has a different public health reporting system. Now, Kenosha health officials want inside the plant.

Amazon sent TMJ4 News the following statement in response:

“We welcome a visit from the Kenosha County Health Department to see the investments we've made in safety, including enhanced daily cleaning, temperature checks, mandatory masks, and social distancing measures,” said Amazon spokesman Jen Crowcroft.

Amazon declined to share its coronavirus case count with TMJ4 News.

A woman who also claims she works at Amazon’s Kenosha campus and spoke under the condition of anonymity said she fears she could get coronavirus at work and spread it to her family.

“I stayed away from work for about a month,” she said. “I only went back because I needed the money.”

The Kenosha County Health Department said the Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to offer testing to all employees at Amazon’s Kenosha campus. Amazon said it’s started its own coronavirus testing at a handful of sites across the country and plans to make it available to Kenosha campus employees soon.

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