Q&A – Are essential workers more at risk than those staying home?

Q&A of the Day – Are essential workers really more at risk than those staying home? 

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Today’s entry: I don't know if the data is available, but is there a study or data that correlates the % of cases of general population as compared to the % of cases of "essential workers". Would be interesting to know if any of these lf quarantine chaos has made a significant difference. 

Bottom Line: Where there’s data there’s a way. I won’t be able to get to a perfect number but it will be a close estimate. Prior to the pandemic 156 million people were employed in the United States. Using the Department of Homeland Security guidelines for essential businesses, approximately 62 million people worked in those industries prior to the pandemic and an estimated 49 million have been actively working onsite within essential businesses. That equates to about 31% of the US workforce operating onsite in an essential business during the pandemic. Those workers represent 15% of the total population of the United States. That becomes our baseline for comparisons.

New York, ground zero for the coronavirus, produced a study on coronavirus hospitalizations last week. In the study, they found 84% of patients were non-essential workers, meaning 16% of patients had been working in essential jobs. You’ll notice how remarkably similar this data is in comparison to the population as a whole. There’s only a 1% variance in case counts involving essential workers compared to those staying home. That’s within the margin of error. In other words, there’s no recent statistical evidence of significance suggesting that working as an essential worker has led to a meaningfully greater risk of contracting the virus than those who’ve not been working in essential businesses. That may not have been the case in the earliest weeks of the pandemic before equipment was readily available but it is evidenced today. 

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