The results of a recent study administered by testing firm Curative in Los Angeles between August and October, were revealed in an article on Construction Dive. The study tracked the results of more than 730,000 COVID-19 tests and compared positive test results with an occupational questionnaire. Although the study has not been certified by peer review, it certainly presents some alarming correlations.
The author of the article quotes Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health, co-author of the study and Curative’s medical director stating, “In the construction industry, people may still be coming to work if they have symptoms because some have no paid sick leave. The findings are concerning, and warrant a better understanding of the measures put in place to control infection.”
According to the study, construction workers had a positivity rate of 5.7 percent for individuals who were asymptomatic, and 10.1 percent for those with symptoms. When compared to other industries, the positivity rate of construction workers was significantly higher. The next highest industry for asymptomatic individuals, food services, had a rate of just 3.8 percent. Only correctional workers had a higher positivity rate for symptomatic cases; 12.5 percent compared to 10.1 percent of construction workers.
The Construction Dive article states that public health departments in Washington state, Michigan and Nashville, Tenn., have found construction to be among the top three occupational settings where outbreaks occurred. Additionally, a CDC study in Utah found construction to have the second highest number of cases among all industries studied and a University of Texas study concluded that construction workers were five times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus than workers in all other industries.
“Given the rising coronavirus case counts across the country, and its particularly high rates among the demographic groups that make up much of the industry’s workforce, we are definitely seeing more workers testing positive,” said Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs at the Associated General Contractors of America. “The distinction is that the virus is not spreading occupationally — in other words, workers are not getting the virus from their jobsites — but instead is being transmitted via local communities and then workers are showing up, asymptomatic, and testing positive.”
With many of the cases being asymptomatic, companies are finding it difficult to get workers to not bring the virus to the jobsite.
To prevent the spread of the virus, more routine testing at jobsites to identify infected individuals may be an effective solution.
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