Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Companies are scrambling to reorganize operations and add protections for employees after a surge of public protests by workers who are fearful of contracting the coronavirus on the job.

Why it matters: America is relying on grocery clerks, warehouse personnel and factory workers for food and other necessities. If they get sick, supply chains could break down, further threatening the teetering U.S. economy.

  • One example: A meatpacking plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, is stepping up its sanitizing efforts and taking employees' temperatures as they arrive after 10 workers tested positive for the virus.

Temperature checks are becoming routine at many workplaces, and some are outfitting employees with masks and gloves.

  • Amazon, which has hired 80,000 people in the past few weeks, introduced a raft of new protective measures Thursday in response to employee walkouts and mass absences at some facilities.
  • Walmart, the nation's largest employer, is installing sneeze guards at checkouts and pharmacies to protect store clerks, and it's closing stores overnight for extra cleaning.

Social distancing can be difficult in factories, where employees often work in close quarters.

  • At a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, where emergency ventilator production will soon begin, employees will be required to sanitize their hands, check their temperature and wear a mask upon arrival.
  • Individual work stations will be located 6 feet apart, and they'll be cleaned between shifts — a safety measure that cuts into productivity at a time when maximizing output is essential.
  • Each shift will enter and exit through a different door to minimize contact.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 19,895,082 — Total deaths: 731,864 — Total recoveries — 12,127,638Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 5,045,645 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Business: Uber CEO proposes "benefits funds" for gig workers.
  4. Public health: How America can do smarter testing.
  5. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Indoor air is the next hotspot.
15 hours ago - Health

New York reports new low positive coronavirus test rate

People physically distancing at tables in New York City's Times Square in June. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Sunday 515 people, or 0.78% of those tested, returned a positive reading for COVID-19 the previous day.

Why it matters: It's the lowest single-day positive rate since the start of the pandemic. It's another sign that the state that was once a global coronavirus epicenter is curbing the spread of the virus. "Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must not become complacent: Everyone should continue to wear their masks and socially distance."

6 hours ago - Health

How to do smarter coronavirus testing

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With testing once again a huge vulnerability to America’s coronavirus response, public health officials are calling for a revamped strategy that features the use of more tests, even if they're imperfect.

Why it matters: The system is overwhelmed by the demand for tests, and yet prolific testing is key to identifying asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic coronavirus cases. Experts say the solution is smarter testing — which doesn't require perfect accuracy.