The CDC is urging companies to have their employees work from home whenever possible citing a new report that studied COVID exposure.
They found employed adults who tested positive for COVID were almost twice as likely to report going regularly to work. That doesn't mean that all the employees got the virus at work but the CDC is using the study to minimize additional exposure telling companies: "Providing the option to work from home or telework when possible is an important consideration for reducing the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection."
Dr. Anthony Harris from occupational health company Workcare says, "we see it be effective both from a reduced transmission in the workplace. And that's all predicated on a number of contacts. ... to increase productivity, decrease overhead cost."
For companies unable to provide telework, implementing safety measures can help minimize COVID exposure.
"Preparation is going to be all about practice," stressed Harris. "Wearing masks, good hand hygiene, using alcohol cleansers, if not washing your hands, and then the social distancing and those need practice."
For employers, Harris adds, companies should invest in screening, temperature checks and better HVAC systems, even though it costs more.
"The benefit there is that you're turning over the air at least six times an hour and putting in place HEPA filters if you don't have those in place now, and that helps clean the air," says Harris.
The CDC study also may give us insights on how COVID is impacting different types of people. The majority of teleworkers in their study were high earning, well educated, non-hispanic White people.
Black and Latinx communities are already disproportionately affected by COVID19 and they are more likely to be essential workers with less telework options. For example, of the over 16,000 covid cases in the meatpacking and poultry plants, the majority of those affected were minorities.
"I was a part of testing in the meatpacking industry early on in the summer in Texas, and we saw a positive rate of over sixty five percent of the workforce," says Harris.
For those who can continue to work remotely, Dr. Harris says it's not just for COVID prevention.
He adds,"flu season will be less impactful from a health standpoint because of the limited interpersonal contact."