CHICAGO (CBS) — The Morning Insiders are following up on a promise. Two weeks ago, we interviewed a top communications person at amazon, and CBS 2’s Lauren Victory asked tough questions about employee safety and coronavirus.
Then she asked to see it all with her own eyes, and Amazon followed through on spokeswoman Rena Lunak’s enthusiastic promise to provide a tour of their facility in Joliet.
After a mandatory thermal imaging temperature check, a blue band granted CBS 2’s team entry to MDW4, an Amazon fulfillment center in Joliet.
“As you can see, everything is spaced out,” said Amazon associate Travis Thomas, one of about a thousand employees at the Joliet warehouse.
Thomas said his family worried about him coming to work when the pandemic first hit.
“They feel like everybody that works for Amazon is going to have the virus, because we’re so close to each other,” he said. “They do a great job of keeping us safe here.”
Tape denoting a six-foot gap covers the floors. Feet imprints help with social distancing in any lines. Masks are mandatory. Employees, like Nicole Snyder, have staggered start times.
“We’ve been a lot more aware of our health safety in the building,” Snyder said.
All the COVID signage probably helps; with reminders posted when you walk in, when you walk in the hall, when you walk into the bathroom.
“Each of the tables is set up with a designated place for a person to sit,” Amazon plant manager Brian Fontenot said.
Green means it’s okay to rest here; a bit obvious – some might say overboard – but Fontenot said it’s all necessary to keep the facility clear of COVID.
CBS 2 asked how many positive cases Fontenot has seen at the warehouse.
“The exact number isn’t a number that I’m going to be supplying,” he said.
Fontenot couldn’t say why, but acknowledged some cases, which was interesting, because CBS 2 received complaints about Amazon’s transparency. Another Joliet employee reached out to us, asking why the $2 more per hour hazard pay was taken away – since the coronavirus still exists.
“I’d let them know that we have taken numerous steps to provide a safe, clean, hazard-free work environment,” Fontenot said.
The investments continue, he added, such as on-site COVID-19 testing coming soon.
The company’s COVID-testing is still in the pilot phase. Fontenot said Amazon hasn’t decided if the test will be mandatory for employees.