Employees who tested positive for Covid-19 were almost twice as likely to report going to work regularly as those who tested negative, stressing the importance of teleworking and workplace safety, according to a study published Thursday. at the US Centers for Disease Control and Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Prevention Report.
A team led by the CDC examined 314 US adults. 153 were symptomatic and had positive Covid-19 PCR tests and 161 were symptomatic people with negative results. Participants were located in outpatient healthcare facilities in July 2020.
Of the 248 participants who reported their teleworking status in the two weeks before the onset of the disease, the percentage of full-time or part-time teleworkers was lower among those with positive coronavirus tests. In those two weeks, those who tested positive for Covid-19 were also more likely to report going exclusively to school or office.
These associations were also present when the analysis was limited to those who did not represent critical infrastructure workers.
The findings highlight the socio-economic differences between participants who did and did not telework, the authors wrote. Non-white employees and those who earned less had fewer opportunities for teleworking.
“This research provides evidence of the potential health benefits of teleworking associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.
“Allowing and encouraging the option of working from home or teleworking when possible is an important issue in reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” they said.
When teleworking is not possible, workers’ safety measures should continue to increase, he said.
The survey has some limitations, including the fact that the study population may not be representative of the US population and that different types of teleworking did not work and participants were not asked about specific workplace alternative policies provided by their employer.
Some US states and cities have increased restrictions such as compulsory mask use in shops, offices and schools in response to an increase in cases across the country.