Under pressure for not releasing its toll sooner, Amazon said Thursday that almost 20,000 of its front-line employees contracted the coronavirus. That's out of about 1.37 million front-line employees of Amazon and Whole Foods Market in the US, CNBC reports—1.44%. The data is for confirmed or presumed cases from March 1 to Sept. 19. Amazon did not change its death toll among employees, which was last reported at eight. The announcement was the first indication the company has given of the effect of the pandemic on its workforce, per CNN. Labor groups, regulators and politicians had pressed Amazon to release the information. In the absence of company totals, warehouse workers had crowdsourced a database of infections. Amazon argued that any data it released could be misleading.
In May, a dozen state attorneys general asked Amazon to provide a breakdown by state of coronavirus cases. In a blog post Thursday, Amazon said it used data from Johns Hopkins University to compare its coronavirus case rates to those of the general population. By that comparison, the company said its number of cases turned out to be 42% than would be expected. Employees at some Amazon and Whole Foods workplaces have walked off the job over conditions since the outbreak began. The company said it has made than 150 "process changes" to improve safety at its workplaces. The nation's largest employer, Walmart, has not released the number of its employees who have contracted the coronavirus. (Anti-COVID products sold on Amazon prompted a warning.)