Amazon, medical supply firm team up to sell coronavirus PPE to health care workers

Amazon says it will not make a profit on the sales

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Amazon has teamed up with medical-supply company Urgent Response Products amid the coronavirus fallout to stock a website for health care providers and government groups.

The page on Amazon's website, COVID-19 Supplies, sells a range of personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, face masks and other supplies, but the gear is being offered only to frontline workers.

Amazon said it will not make a profit ofn the sales.

While the actual number of supplies has not been disclosed, URN's founder and chairman, Brent Skoda told FOX Business that "millions PPE units have been supplied" to Amazon.

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"The entire Urgent Response Network team has worked tirelessly to secure a reliable and vetted supply of PPE raw materials, factory, manufacturing, production space, quality control, testing and logistics," Skoda said. "This initiative provides PPE to hospitals and governments to ensure the front line teams are kept safe during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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Urgent Response was recently the recipient of $10 billion in purchase orders, president JP McDade said in a report, adding that a team of executives decides how the supplies are allocated, weighing states' individual needs with what can realistically be provided.

(Photo: Associated Press)

URN said the items will likely be provided on a first-come, first-served basis to organizations registered at the Amazon site.

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Amazon has already rolled out some changes at its facilities to protect workers, including enforcing temperature checks when employees report to work and introducing updates to its warehouse procedures to mandate social-distancing. It also said in its first-quarter earnings report that it would spend $4 billion on a robust COVID-19 response.

The company is moving to scale up its protective equipment inventory with the partnership at the same time it's the subject of public scrutiny and worker protests over safety concerns.

Its partnership with URN comes after another of its warehouse employee died from COVID-19. The company confirmed to FOX Business that the worker, who had been stationed in Amazon's Waukegan, Illinois warehouse died April 18.

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That marks the fourth confirmed COVID-19-linked death of an Amazon worker, following deaths in Hawthorne, California; Tracy, California and the death of a Staten Island, New York, worker who was stationed at the JFK8 fulfillment center.

The company recently fired Christian Smalls, who organized a walkout at one of its New York facilities where workers complained of unsafe conditions. Employees in Minnesota and Pennsylvania who raised safety concerns were also terminated. Meanwhile, senior engineer and vice president Tim Bray resigned last week over the firings of workers, saying remaining in that role would mean "signing off on actions I despised."

An Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business, however, that none of the firings were related to protests: "We did not terminate Mr. Smalls’ employment for organizing a 15-person protest. We terminated his employment for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violations of his terms of his employment. Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines. He was also found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14-days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world. Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite further putting the teams at risk."

The spokesperson continued: “We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so, but these rights do not provide blanket immunity against bad actions, particularly those that endanger the health, well-being or safety of their colleagues.”

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This story was updated to include a comment from Amazon.