UCSF Research Shows Industries in Which Workers Are Most Likely to Die From COVID

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It’s dangerous for everyone during the pandemic, but UCSF researchers say they know which workers are the most at risk.

It’s a sobering truth: overall, the chance of dying for California adults has certainly increased during the pandemic.

“Working-age adults in California had about a 22% increased risk of dying from March on, compared to prior years,” said UCSF Epidemiologist Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. “And that’s because we’re living during a pandemic.”

Her team of researchers reviewed California death certificates to gather data.

They found that among the deadliest jobs during the pandemic were restaurant and agricultural work. People in those industries saw their chances of death double to 40%.

What’s worse, researchers found that Latinos in those industries saw their chance of death go up to about 60%.

“It’s communities that have the least means, the most need to work, and the least power within their workplace to make sure they can keep themselves safe,” said Bibbins-Domingo.

People who work in those industries, or have loved ones who do, are not surprised by the findings.

“My husband is a chef in a restaurant and I worry about him,” said San Francisco resident Brian Peterson.

Restaurant owner Zaid Almassri said he’s had to reassure employees because some are still scared of losing their jobs if they get sick.

“You know, I see a lot of people who don’t say they have a positive corona, you know what I mean? They’re like, they don’t want to tell anyone,” he said. “This is really scary, we have to tell, there’s no shame. It’s a virus.”

While restaurant and agricultural workers have been hit hard, warehouse and delivery workers are also dying at higher rates, followed by grocery and retail employees.

Bibbins-Domingo said this new data should be considered as California continues rolling out vaccines.

“If we really want to prevent deaths in California, we also have to focus on those who are younger than 65, who are doing riskier types of work,” she said.

The findings come as the state considers whether to change the vaccination  rollout to focus on age groups rather than industry.

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