Amazon and Uber Suggest Delivering Coronavirus Testing Kits. Gig Workers Are Worried.
The suggestion comes as delivery and ride-share drivers are demanding better safety measures and labor protections
Technology titans Amazon and Uber this week hinted at separate future plans to deliver coronavirus testing kits in the midst of a national shortage of tests at hospitals and clinics.
On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Amazon Care, the company’s “virtual medical clinic” for Amazon employees, is in talks with Seattle officials to deliver at-home coronavirus testing kits to local residences in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Meanwhile, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi declared on a Thursday call with analysts that his company is “looking to deliver” tests, but shared no further details.
Neither company has disclosed its plans, nor which agencies they would partner with. An Uber spokesperson told OneZero that specifics about what a testing kit delivery service would look like are not available at this time. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But gig workers, who make up a large percentage of the workforces of both companies — and who as independent contractors are excluded from protections such as paid sick leave, health insurance, and unemployment insurance — are concerned that any such effort would leave them exposed to coronavirus.
“This has to be near the top of the list of really stupid ideas,” Jeff Perry, an Uber and Amazon Flex driver in Sacramento told OneZero. “[Khosrowshahi] can’t even provide drivers with hand sanitizer, and he wants people to trust his company with their health care?”
The suggestion that gig economy delivery services could distribute coronavirus tests comes as gig workers are demanding better safety measures and labor protections — long-standing requests that are exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. A petition signed by thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers asks the companies to provide two weeks of paid sick leave, compensation for sanitizing materials, and reclassification as employees under California’s Assembly Bill 5.