Presentation Time: 12:20-12:40
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Kathleen Gray, UNC Institute for the Environment
Research Title: Occupational Health and Industry in Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in North Carolina
Worker protection is important to keeping our economy and society running. We aim to study occupational and behavioral circumstances leading to COVID-19 exposures in North Carolina workplaces, as part of a pilot project by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Our survey will be used to inform workplace interventions for COVID-19 infection and prevention control. We called confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals from a randomly sampled list from the NCOVID surveillance system (02/15/2021-07/15/2021). Inclusion criteria was anyone 18-64 years old, living in NC, who was working outside the home during the 2 weeks prior to illness onset. Healthcare workers were excluded from the survey. Our goal was to complete over 100 interviews with adults infected with SARS-CoV-2. Out of 551 calls, the response rate was 33.3%, while the survey completion rate was 14.2%. Survey respondents were 55.1% White, 14.5% American Indian/Alaska Native, 1.4% Asian, 29% Black/African American. Women accounted for 46.1% of respondents, while men accounted for 52.6% (1 gender not identified). 22.4% of workers did not receive paid time off for COVID-19 illness, with an average of 9.5 workdays missed. Employee health must be a high priority during pandemics since workplaces may be high-risk settings for infections. Unfortunately, our interview goal was not met, however statistical analysis was still conducted. Instituting policy changes that mandate paid time off for illness may be an effective way to prevent spread of COVID-19.