An Amazon warehouse worker on Long Island has died of the coronavirus, the company confirmed on Thursday.
George Leigh, 59, who worked out of Amazon’s Bethpage distribution center, died on April 9, according to CNBC. He is at least the sixth warehouse worker for the company to succumb to COVID-19.
“We are saddened by the loss of an associate who had worked at our site in Bethpage, New York,” a spokesperson for the retail giant said in a statement.
“His family and loved ones are in our thoughts.”
Leigh was last at the facility, known as DNY4, on March 28, Amazon said.
His symptoms became so severe that he was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center on April 9, complaining that he couldn’t breathe, his brother, Todd Leigh, told CNBC.
Todd said his brother continued to work during the height of the pandemic, and didn’t begin wearing a face mask until his last week on the job.
Amazon began providing protective face coverings on April 4 and required all workers to wear them on April 10. It also began instituting social distancing rules on March 29.
But George’s work as a “sort associate” training other workers made it nearly impossible to maintain social-distancing, Todd said.
While he was home sick with the virus, George contemplated never going back to his job, wondering if the safety risks were worth it, said his brother.
“He was so afraid,” Todd said.
“Before that, he questioned [going to work]. But he had bills to pay, so he said, ‘I’ve got my gloves, I’m going to do my job and try to stay safe.’”
Not long after George passed away, his wife and younger brother, who both lived with him, tested positive for the virus but have since seemed to be recovering, Todd said.
Todd said he’s grown so frustrated with the company’s response to his brother’s death and wants to know how many people he may have infected at work.
He said he wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressing his concerns and filed a complaint with the New York Department of Labor.
The Seattle-based company has not provided an official tally of employees infected or killed by the virus.
But workers have reported about 300 cases to United for Respect, an essential retail workers’ rights nonprofit that’s tracking the disease among Amazon staff.
At least five other warehouse workers, one in Staten Island, Illinois and Indiana each and two in California are known to have died of the virus.
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