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caption: Amazon employee Larry Rafols distributes items to different stations at an Amazon fulfillment center on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
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Amazon employee Larry Rafols distributes items to different stations at an Amazon fulfillment center on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon will build its own coronavirus test lab

Amazon is building its own coronavirus test lab in an effort to ramp up testing for its employees.

It's starting small, and it's unclear how many tests it will be able to take on. But the online giant says it's worth trying.

For the U.S. to ease social distancing restrictions, we’re going to need much more extensive coronavirus testing. The virus can be transmitted by people who don’t have symptoms. So taking temperatures isn’t enough. Amazon is redeploying some of its experts on the problem.

The company hopes to share what it learns with governments.

There are already medical testing companies out there, doing this kind of work. But they’ve struggled to meet demand, and some have massive backlogs of tests.

Amazon brings money to the effort. And know-how: The company is good at scaling up small projects quickly.

But it doesn’t always succeed.

Even Amazon has struggled to keep hand sanitizer in stock for its warehouse employees.