A research report from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles, “High Frequency and Prevalence of Community-Based Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” tracked the results of more than 700,000 COVID-19 tests in the Los Angeles area and found that construction workers had the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases of any occupation, including healthcare workers, first responders, elderly care workers, grocery store workers and food service employees. In fact, construction workers had a positivity rate of 5.7% for asymptomatic individuals, and 10.1% for those who exhibited symptoms. The 5.7% positivity rate is particularly striking when one considers that the second highest industry for asymptomatic workers, food services, had a rate of only 3.8%.
The study comes at a time when an advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is determining which population groups should be at the top of the list for vaccinations.
The committee is also studying the results and recommendations of a special CDC report released Dec. 20, “Phased Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines.” This report looks at the importance of providing early vaccinations to what it defines as “essential workers,” which total 87 million. Among the categories of workers considered “essential” are first responders, grocery store workers, food service workers, construction workers, energy industry workers and others.
The CDC report relied, in part, on a guidance document released by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance, Version 4.0.” Among the workers included as “essential” are construction workers, telecommunications workers, energy workers and others.
As a result of its research, the CDC advisory committee is recommending that construction workers should receive vaccinations after other front-line essential workers and people aged 75 and older. If the committee’s recommendations are approved by the CDC, it is likely that construction workers, among others, will be next in line to receive vaccinations after healthcare workers and nursing home residents, who are already being vaccinated.