Coronavirus updates: Nearly 20,000 Amazon employees likely to have contracted COVID-19

The company reported the number of positive tests for the first time Thursday.

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1 million people worldwide.

Over 34.1 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 7.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 207,651 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 821,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 774,000 cases and over 709,000 cases, respectively.

Nearly 190 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least nine of which are in crucial phase three trials.


Atlanta Falcons stadium to use sanitizing drones


Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Atlanta Falcons, will use drone technology as part of its efforts to clean the stadium. 

The stadium partnered with Lucid Drone Technologies for the disinfecting drones, which use electrostatic spraying nozzles to evenly distribute medical-grade disinfecting chemicals. The non-toxic hypochlorous acid solution is in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards, stadium officials said.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the first professional sports stadium to use the technology, according to officials. It has three drones -- two to clean the stadium, and a third as a backup, ESPN reported.



The drones will be used to disinfect seats, handrails and glass partitions following events. Other stadium cleaning and sanitizing measures include hourly disinfecting, the placement of 600 hand sanitizer dispensers and a monthly anti-viral coating that officials said helps reduce the spread of the virus.

The 71,000-seat stadium welcomes back fans with limited capacity on Oct. 11, when the Falcons play the Carolina Panthers. 

The Panthers will also use cutting-edge technology to help sanitize its stadium, in the form of three "germ-zapping" robots, according to ESPN. Bank of America Stadium hosts fan again starting on Sunday, when the Panthers play the Arizona Cardinals.


Nearly 20,000 Amazon employees likely to have contracted COVID-19


Nearly 20,000 Amazon employees have had confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19, the company announced Thursday.

The company analyzed data on more than 1.3 million Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees in the United States between March 1 and Sept. 19. It found that 19,816 employees had tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19, the company said Thursday. Amazon noted the positivity rate was below the general population.

The announcement comes following months of calls for transparency after the deaths of several Amazon warehouse workers during the pandemic.

The company did not share how many employees have been hospitalized or died due to COVID-19. Positive cases do not necessarily mean an employee was infected through work, it noted.



Amazon employees are screened for symptoms and tested at work. The company conducts thousands of tests a day through its own lab, with plans to grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November. 

Other safety measures include temperature checks, distribution of face masks, social distancing guidelines such as staggered break times, cleanings every 90 minutes of high touch points and video-based contact tracing, the company said.

Through social distancing and contact-tracing measures, the number of people required to quarantine per confirmed case has decreased to a "fraction of a person" since early March, when three or four employees were placed on paid quarantine for each confirmed case, Amazon said.


Washington Monument reopens to public


Visitors can now return to the top of the Washington Monument for the first time since March 13. The monument reopened to the public on Thursday after a six-month closure due to COVID-19.

The National Park Service said it has new cleaning procedures, like closing from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day to disinfect. The National Park Service said it’s enforcing “significantly reduced elevator capacity, limiting trips to 4-8 passengers.”



Tickets are only available in advance online to promote distancing.



New York state launches tracing app


New York state has launched a tracing app that uses cellphone technology to tell you if you were in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

The app tells you if you were within 6 feet of a positive person and if you were close to that person for 10 minutes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

“It doesn’t give names, it doesn’t give any privacy information,” he said.

The app works in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.



ABC News' Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.