Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials say that 187 Amazon employees in the Twin Cities have tested positive for COVID-19, which includes an outbreak at its Shakopee fulfillment center.
The MDH confirmed the case numbers to BMTN on Wednesday, saying at least 88 of the confirmed cases came from the Shakopee location, with 22 at Eagan, 14 at Brooklyn Park, and 5 in Maple Grove.
The remaining 58 confirmed cases were confirmed among Amazon workers, but they didn't specify which facility they work at.
The coronavirus pandemic has already shown that facilities with large numbers of workers in close quarters can lead to enhanced transmission of the disease, which happened at the JBS Pork facility in Worthington early in the outbreak.
The health department said it should be made clear that just because these Amazon workers are infected, it doesn't necessarily mean they got the virus at work, noting: "There is community transmission going on in these communities as well."
The data relates to cases between Apr. 4 and June 18, with the MDH saying there was a "clustering of cases" between Apr. 24 and May 20, after which cases spread out.
Amazon Eagan followed similar trends, while the Brooklyn Park location saw more of its cases in early May.
"It should be noted that Amazon is just one of more than 250 workplaces in MN that have COVID case clusters and in terms of number of cases per employee population is in the middle of the pack, generally speaking," MDH said.
"If you include meat processing facilities, there are about 13 others that have higher numbers, with JBS being the largest."
A group of Amazon workers in Shakopee staged a walkout in late April, with their demands including that a deep clean be carried out at the facility amid the.COVID-19 outbreak.
Amazon told BMTN that the cases represent a fraction of its 15,000 hourly employees and partners in Minnesota, and that 91 of its facilities across the country have been inspected by state health agencies since March, and all have passed.
"We utilize a variety of data to closely monitor the safety of our buildings and there is strong evidence that our employees are not proliferating the virus at work—what we see generally is that the overall rate of infection and increase or decrease of total cases is highly correlated to the overall community rate of infection," spokesperson Jen Crowcroft said.
"Over the months of COVID-19, thousands of employees and partners have worked at our Shakopee site and we believe strongly people are not spreading the virus at work given the robust safety measures we’ve put into place."