About 20% of workers had Covid-19, and most had no symptoms, study finds |
Oct 29, 2020 |
CNN – Grocery store work puts employees at serious risk for infection, a new study found, particularly those who have to interact with customers.
These workers likely became a “significant transmission source” for Covid-19 without even knowing it because most in the study were asymptomatic.
The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to demonstrate the significant asymptomatic infection rate, exposure risks and psychological distress grocery workers have felt during the pandemic.
In the study, 20% of the 104 grocery workers tested at a store in Boston in May had positive nasal swab tests.
This was a significantly higher rate of infection than what was seen in the surrounding communities, the researchers said. Workers who dealt with customers were five times as likely to test positive for Covid-19 as colleagues in other positions.
But three out of four of those who tested positive had no symptoms.
“We were definitely surprised to see that there were that many people that were asymptomatic,” said Dr. Justin Yang, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the study.
“This is definitely very alarming as it means that retail grocery store employees are exposed to customers and sort of serve as a middleman for the virus – like a super spreader almost.”
Workers in the study had tried to take precautions. Nearly all, 91%, said they wore a face mask at work and 77% said they also wore masks outside of work. Yet only about 66% said they were able to practice social distancing consistently on the job.
This inability to social distance had an emotional, as well as a physical impact … Read more.
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