People who tested positive for COVID-19 during a recent study were much more likely to have reported to an office setting before infection than telecommuted from home, officials said Thursday.
The study looked at 314 employed adults who said they felt symptoms of illness when they took their first-ever COVID-19 tests at outpatient healthcare facilities in July 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The group included 153 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and 161 people who received negative test results.
Among participants who worked during the two weeks before their symptoms started, only 35% of patients who tested positive said they worked from home. By comparison, 53% of the participants who tested negative reported working from home.
Participants who said they were able to telework were more likely to be white, college-educated, covered by health insurance and in jobs paying more than $75,000 per year, the study reported.
No significant differences were noted between teleworkers and people who worked outside the home when it came to community exposures such as shopping, using public transportation or visiting restaurants, salons and gyms, the study said.
But those who regularly reported to a work setting or school were more likely to attend church or religious gatherings, the study found.
The new findings support the argument that teleworking provides “potential health benefits” amid the coronavirus pandemic, the study authors said.
“Allowing and encouraging the option to work from home or telework, when possible, is an important consideration for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” they said.
But telework still appears to be difficult for some Americans to access, they stressed.
“These findings highlight socioeconomic differences among participants who did and did not report teleworking before illness onset, with non-white employees and those who earn less money having less opportunity to telework,” the researchers wrote.
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