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Coronavirus Update: Ilhan Omar Among Lawmakers Calling For Amazon To Do More For Workers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Rep. Ilhan Omar is among a group of U.S. lawmakers asking Amazon to be more transparent and proactive in its efforts to keep warehouse employees safe amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Omar, who represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional district, was one of more than a dozen lawmakers to sign a letter to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, asking him to do more to protect workers on the front lines of the country's struggle with the outbreak.

Other lawmakers on the letter include Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York.

In the letter to Amazon's billionaire founder, the lawmakers say that workers in warehouses across the country continue to raise concerns that Amazon isn't doing enough to protect them from exposure to COVID-19.

"More than 1,500 of these workers have signed a petition asking Amazon for a more comprehensive response plan, increased protections, hazard pay, and changes to productivity-based performance metrics," the letter said.

In the last few days, Amazon has issued a number of statements about how it's working to address worker safety. The company's efforts include paid time off for workers who test positive fro the virus and paid quarantine for those who were in contact with them.

Additionally, Amazon says it's modified warehouse operations to allow for social distancing. The company also says it's letting warehouse workers wash their hands as much as they'd like, without penalty.

Still, the lawmakers want more specifics about the working conditions inside warehouses, as well as information about other changes the company plans make to protect employees.

"We ask that you intensify your efforts to protect the health and safety of your warehouse workers," the letter said. "No employee, especially those who work for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, should be forced to work in unsafe conditions."

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it's looking to hire 100,000 people to work in its fulfillment centers, one of which is in Shakopee. The company has seen a surge in business as Americans practice social distancing and shop online.

According to reports and the lawmakers' letter, 10 Amazon workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

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