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Entrance to JD.com's Shanghai warehouse for luxury goods. Photo: Steve LeVine/Axios

Shanghai, China: I am inside a 28-meter-tall, 100,000-square-foot Shanghai warehouse stacked almost to the ceiling with boxes stored one atop the other on 60,000 pallets.

Math question: How many workers are needed to process the 50,000 to 100,000 orders that go out of the building every day?

The answer, says Pujiang Pu, manager of the warehouse, owned by JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce gargantuan: It depends on the size of the box — small, medium or large.

  • Within that answer lies the current state of the robotization of warehouses — robots are equipped to handle mostly small boxes.

This particular warehouse handles only medium-size boxes: That means 12-by-24-inches. It’s increasingly automated but still has the most employees of any warehouse in the park that Pu manages — 500 workers split into two shifts.

  • If an item can fit into a small box, current automation can handle them, so they go to a (mostly) humanless warehouse that JD operates (it does have actually four human robot mechanics).

What's next: This setup is just for now, according to Pu. He says:

  • The company is experimenting with more automation, and will bring in dozens of self-driving forklifts and around 20 mechanical arms by the end of the year.
  • JD owns more than 500 such warehouses around China. Adds company spokesperson Lori Chao, “we would like to upgrade all of them to be personless and let these workers do other things” for the company.

For now, working here is a lifestyle. Pu said on a tour today that more than two-thirds of the workers — including himself — live in dormitory rooms on the site. He’s been doing so for eight years.

We asked why, and he said with a smile, “I like to keep an eye on the operation.”

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Snapchat.

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.

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