An Amazon worker in New York City has died of COVID-19, the company confirmed. His death comes after weeks of protests against the company's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The man, who worked at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse, was confirmed to have the virus April 11th. The company did not say what day he died.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY," Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish said in a statement. "His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues."
The employee was last at the facility on April 5th, according to the company. The company added the employee was not "contact traced" to other workers.
Employees are being offered support and counseling, and his family is also being provided support, though Amazon did not detail what that support entailed.
The Amazon worker's death, first reported on by The Verge, is the first known coronavirus fatality in NYC at the company. In recent weeks, a worker in Tracy, California and another in Hawthorne, California facilities died, according to reports.
For months, Amazon workers have protested how the company's response to the pandemic. Employees have been critical of sick leave policies and how much personal protective equipment has been provided. The company has touted that it has provided more than 100 million masks across sites, added additional hand washing stations, and started temperature checks.
The company says the infection rate among workers at the Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, is "significantly" below the surrounding area's rate of the virus, though Amazon has repeatedly refused to provide the number of cases or individuals quarantined at their facilities.
At a City Council committee hearing regarding a slate of workers' rights bills on Tuesday, a Staten Island Amazon employee, Rina Cummings testified the company's failure to protect essential workers.
"We are not robots. We are people," said Cummings, a single mom of two who has taken leave during the pandemic. "Everyday I get text messages from the warehouse stating how many people have been infected by the virus. I count 50 plus and counting."
On Monday, an Amazon vice president, Tim Bray, quit in protest after a group of activists were fired, including Staten Island worker Chris Smalls, who was laid off hours after organizing a March walkout in Staten Island.
Bray called the company "chickenshit" for the firings.
"Firing whistleblowers isn't just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It's evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture," Bray wrote in a blog post.
When asked about Bray's resignation during the hearing, Cummings said: "I've been protesting against Amazon since six months after I got there."
"Sometimes it saddens me that it took this epidemic to bring to light some of their business practices, but I'll take what I can get," she added.