More Hispanic workers were affected by the coronavirus pandemic at food processing and manufacturing plants and farm workplaces in the United States last spring than workers of other races or ethnicities, a team reported Monday led by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A survey of meat and poultry factories and similar environments in the United States found that nearly 73% of those diagnosed with coronavirus were Hispanic or Latin American, 6.3% were black, and 4.1% were Asian or Pacific Islanders. Yet Hispanics make up only 37% of the workforce in these workplaces.
This suggests that “Hispanic or Latin American, non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic Asian / Pacific Islander workers in these workplaces could be disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the researchers wrote in the journal CDC Emerging. Infectious Diseases.
“Our study supports findings from previous reports that some of the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 among certain racial and ethnic minority groups is likely related to occupational risk,” the team wrote.
The CDC reviewed information collected from state health departments on workers with confirmed Covid-19 in food processing and manufacturing plants and agricultural settings between March 1 and May 31.
They found that reports of mass testing at meat and poultry factories in the United States revealed widespread coronavirus outbreaks and found a large number of asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections.
High-density workplaces may carry a higher risk of transmission of Covid-19, the researchers reported.
Only 36 states reported varying data and testing strategies by workplace, which influenced the number of cases detected, the CDC said. Workers hesitant to report illness could have led to an underestimation of cases.