Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 'wholly focused' on coronavirus, predicts 'things are going to get worse'

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter to his employees over the weekend, thanking them for their hard work amid the coronavirus pandemic, while acknowledging the crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better.

"I’m not alone in being grateful for the work you are doing," Bezos wrote in the letter, posted to the company's blog. "I’ve received hundreds of emails from customers and seen posts on social media thanking you all. Your efforts are being noticed at the highest levels of government, and President Trump earlier this week thanked this team profusely."

Bezos continued: "Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better. We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil. At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has bulletproof panels in his Seattle office.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has bulletproof panels in his Seattle office. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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In addition, Bezos wrote Amazon had placed purchase orders for "millions of face masks" for their employees and contractors who are unable to work from home. "Very few" of the orders have been filled, Bezos acknowledged, as constraints are ongoing around the world and priority is being given to health care professionals.

"It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line," Bezos explained. "When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people."

Last week, Amazon said its Fullfillment by Amazon (FBA) program would partially suspend shipments through April 5 to allow for the tech giant to prioritize products needed for the coronavirus pandemic shaking the globe.

The tech giant has come under scrutiny for having allegedly unsafe conditions in its distribution centers and warehouses in the U.S. and Europe.

On Friday, a group of four U.S. senators, including Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., wrote a letter to Bezos expressing their concern about the health and safety of Amazon warehouses' workers.

“Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Americans who are taking every precaution…might risk getting infected with COVID-19 because of Amazon’s decision to prioritize efficiency and profits over the safety and well-being of its workforce.”

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On Friday, Fox News reported that a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Queens, N.Y., had tested positive for COVID-19.

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Fox News' Gillian Turner and Lissa Kaplan contributed to this story.