Amazon employee in Seattle has confirmed case of coronavirus

by BLOOMBERG / pic by BLOOMBERG Inc. notified employees Tuesday of the first confirmed case of coronavirus among its U.S. workforce. The online retailer told workers about the infected employee via email.

The employee left work Feb. 25 due to an illness and the company said it was informed Tuesday that the person had contracted Covid-19. All co-workers in contact with the employee, who were at Amazon’s South Lake Union office complex in Seattle, have been notified, the company said.

Two Amazon employees in Italy were previously confirmed to have contracted the virus. The company has said it will limit nonessential travel within the U.S. and cancel warehouse tours. It has started conducting some job interviews virtually rather than face-to-face.

Seattle, home of Amazon’s headquarters, has had the first and largest U.S. outbreak of Covid-19. 21 people have been infected and eight have died in the wider King County area, according to the local department of health, including some infected in a nursing home. Firefighters and emergency responders who transported infected patients are in quarantine. Some schools have closed so they can be cleaned and local stores are running out of hand sanitizer and face masks.

Health officials said there may be hundreds of infections that haven’t been reported yet in Washington state and potentially more nationwide. King County will use emergency authority to buy a motel to isolate what could be scores of patients.

Worldwide, there have been more than 92,000 infections and 3,161 deaths attributed to the virus, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned that global economic growth will sink as the pathogen spreads. Officials say the virus causes mild or flu-like symptoms in the vast majority of people infected, but it has proven dangerous for the elderly or those with other underlying conditions.