Amazon will start phasing out on-site COVID-19 tests at its warehouses by the end of the month, a company spokesperson confirmed Monday.
The Information tech news website first reported that Amazon planned to end its coronavirus testing program, which during the brunt of the pandemic last fall aimed to process 50,000 tests from 650 facilities per day.
Amazon decided to end its testing program because of “the progress we have made and improvements in public health conditions we are observing across the country,” spokesperson Kim Lafleur said in an email.
“The health and safety of our employees remains our top priority,” Lafleur added. “Aligning with updated guidance from the CDC and other public health officials, we are excited about taking the next steps on our path back to normal operations.”
While nearly 70% of Washington state residents are now vaccinated, the rate is much lower in many states with Amazon warehouses. Only around 40% of people in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, for instance, are vaccinated, according to data compiled by the Mayo Clinic. Amazon operates nearly two dozen warehouse and logistics facilities in those three states, according to logistics research firm MWPVL.
Amazon did not respond to questions about how it assessed the risk of low vaccination rates in some states, or the risk of variants, when deciding to stop testing its warehouse workers for COVID-19. The company has said evidence from its testing program shows that Amazon workers contracted COVID-19 less often than the general population, and it has sought to attribute the disparity to its health and safety measures. Amazon says it spent billions on safety precautions early in the pandemic, including in extra payments for employees who continued showing up to work last year.
Some workers, though, have said the company did not take adequate steps to protect them from the coronavirus.