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Construction Outnumbers Healthcare Workers, First Responders for Highest COVID-19 Cases

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Construction Outnumbers Healthcare Workers, First Responders for Highest COVID-19 Cases


December 16, 2020
Two builders at construction site
Photo: Andy Dean

Out of healthcare workers, first responders, and grocery store employees, construction workers have the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases, according to a new study. The study, administered by testing firm Curative, paired positive COVID-19 test results with a questionnaire asking about occupation, reports Construction Dive. One UCLA professor and co-author of the study says construction workers are more likely to continue working although experiencing symptoms because there is no paid sick leave offered. From pairing more than 730,000 test results to occupations, the study reported 5.7% of positive tests came from asymptomatic construction workers and 10.1% came from symptomatic ones.

The study encompasses one of the largest datasets yet of positive test results among construction workers and comes at a time when an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weighs whether essential workers, including those in construction, should be second in line to receive the first available doses of approved vaccines in the United States.

The positivity rates among construction workers in the study were strikingly high when compared to other industries. For example, while construction had a 5.7% positivity rate for individuals who were asymptomatic, the next highest industry, food services, had just a 3.8% rate, or a third lower. For symptomatic cases, only correction workers had a higher positivity rate, at 12.5%, compared to construction’s 10.1%.

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