Business Insider Edition

Coronavirus: Amazon tells its giant network of truck drivers to stay home if feeling sick

Rachel Premack , Business Insider US
 Mar 05, 2020, 09:46 AM
Amazon has a truck network of 20,000 tractors and 7,000 trailers.
Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Amazon confirmed to Business Insider that it sent an email to its trucking network on the evening of March 3 with advice on how to conduct business amid coronavirus concerns.
  • The email advised truckers to stay home for at least 24 hours if feeling feverish, to frequently wash one's hands, and to regularly disinfect steering wheels and other often-touched parts of the truck.
  • Amazon contacted drivers a day after Business Insider reported that company and contract truck drivers for the retail giant, as well as company drivers at Walmart, had not received information on how to navigate coronavirus on the road.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Amazon emailed the contract carriers who are part of the retailer's giant transportation network on March 3 about how to navigate coronavirus, the company confirmed to Business Insider.

The email requested that trucking companies advise their employees to stay home if feeling sick until they've been fever-free for at least 24 hours, to frequently wash their hands, and to regularly disinfect steering wheels and other often-touched parts of the truck.

"Amazon is closely watching the global coronavirus (COVID-19) developments," the email from Amazon's transportation team reads. "Our focus is on the health and safety of our delivery service partners, drivers, associates, and customers. As this situation continues to evolve please continue to check for emails and further information from your TEM."

The email concludes, after noting several common preventative measures for coronavirus, "If you learn that you or one of your drivers has had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, please notify your carrier manager immediately."

Amazon contacted companies a day after Business Insider reported that company and contract truck drivers for the retail giant, as well as company drivers at Walmart, had not received information on how to navigate coronavirus on the road. Days before, Amazon told all of its 798,000 employees to halt "non-essential travel" in the US and internationally amid the coronavirus outbreak - something truck drivers can't exactly do.

In recent years, Amazon's logistics arm has strengthened. The company's delivery force is unusually vast for a retailer - with 40 cargo jets, 25,000 last-mile vans, 20,000 tractors, 7,000 trailers, and a network of ocean freighters.

And while Amazon did email the offices of its contract companies on March 3, some truck drivers who work for those contractors told Business Insider that their employers did not pass that information along to them.

"Our company hasn't given any guidance on what we should do and neither has Amazon," one truck driver, who asked to have their identity withheld for fear of retribution, told Business Insider. "So, for now, we're just carrying around a huge bottle of hand sanitiser and washing our hands with soap and water when we get the chance."

Meanwhile, there was confusion among truck drivers on the items they're handling, many of which are manufactured abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, claims the risk is low.

"Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures," according to the CDC's website.

As of March 4, there are more than 95,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide. More than 3,200 have died, including 11 in the US.

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