High Rates of Covid-19 in Construction Industry, Study Suggests

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Only correction facility employees had higher Covid-19 positivity rates than construction workers, according to the study.

A new analysis by Construction Dive details research showing “that construction workers had the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases of any occupation, including healthcare staff, first responders, correctional personnel, elderly care workers, grocery store workers and food service employees.”

The research was completed by Curative, a “testing firm”, in Los Angeles from August to October, according to the report, and consisted of giving people who tested positive for Covid-19 a questionnaire that inquired about their profession. It ultimately showed that construction workers “had a positivity rate of 5.7% for individuals who were asymptomatic, and 10.1% for those with symptoms, according to the study.”

As Construction Dive notes, construction workers’ positivity rates starkly contrasted with workers in other fields. Food service, the industry with the second highest asymptomatic positivity rate, had a rate of 3.8 percent. When it came to symptomatic cases, “only correction workers had a higher positivity rate, at 12.5%, compared to construction’s 10.1%.”

Asymptomatic and symptomatic positivity rates, respectively, in other professions include the following: 2.3% and 5.4% in delivery, transportation, and ride share workers; 2.6% and 7.4% in first responders; 3.1% and 7.5% in grocery store workers; 3.4% and 6.4% in healthcare professionals; 0.0% and 12.5% in correctional workers; 1.6% and 4.8% in education workers; 2.9% and 5.5% in elder care workers; 3.8% and 7.8% in food service workers; and 2.5% and 5.7% in retail or manufacturing workers, according to Curative.

Construction Dive notes that many voices within the construction industry have claimed construction worksites have “successfully mitigated Covid-19 spread” via the use of personal protective equipment, staggered shifts, routine disinfecting practices, and social distancing. These claims, unsupported by any national clearinghouse data on Covid-19 infections in construction, contrast with studies like the Curative one, as well as research by public health departments in several states that “construction to be among the top three occupational settings where outbreaks occurred.” Meanwhile a CDC study conducted in Utah found that the construction industry had “the second highest number of cases among all industries studied,” while a University of Texas study found that in “construction workers were five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than workers in all other industries.”

More information on the research is available via Curative and Construction Dive.

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