New data on COVID mortality in the United States by occupation

In a recent study published on medRxiv* preprint server, researchers assessed the risk of mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among people working in essential sectors of America.

Studies have reported increased severity of COVID-19 among people working in essential sectors. However, for the United States (US) population, evidence on differences in risk of severe COVID-19 based on demographic variability is lacking.

A previous study of COVID-19 mortality in California showed that per capita mortality from COVID-19 was higher among workers in essential sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, emergency, facilities and logistics/ transportation.

Study: Mortality from COVID-19 among working-age Americans in 46 states, by industry and occupation. Image Credit: Eldar Nurkovic/Shutterstock

About the study

In the current study, researchers assessed the per capita mortality risk from COVID-19 among America’s essential workers by occupation and industry using population size estimates from the 2020 American Community Survey.

This study was conducted to expand the scope of the previous California study. They also assessed differences in age-standardized COVID-19 per capita mortality based on demographic factors such as gender, age, and racial variability.

2020 COVID-19 mortality data for non-military U.S. residents ages 29 to 64 from 46 states was provided by the National Center for Health Statistics. However, data was not available for four states: Iowa, Arizona, Rhode Island and North Carolina. Thus, residents of these states and Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia were excluded from the study.

Industries and occupations were defined using the National Health Interview Survey and US Census codes, which were present in the obtained data. Occupations with ≥100 reported COVID-19 deaths were included in the analysis.

Industries were categorized as essential and non-essential based on the pandemic-era definitions followed in the California study. Industries classified as non-essential were arts, recreation and entertainment; education; insurance and finance; management; information; other services; technical and scientific services; real estate, leasing and rental; and others.

Per capita COVID-19 mortality by industry (essential or non-essential) and age, United States (46 states), 2020.

Per capita COVID-19 mortality by industry (essential or non-essential) and age, United States (46 states), 2020.

Results

A total of 48,030 COVID-19 deaths have been reported among non-military U.S. individuals whose industry and occupation were known. This amounted to 25.1 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 active people.

A 1.89 times higher COVID-19 mortality per capita was observed among workers in essential sectors compared to non-essential workers, representing an absolute gap of 14.7 per 100,000 working people.

The industries with the highest per capita mortality from COVID-19 were: food and accommodation services (45 per 100,000); storage and transportation (43.4 per 100,000); forestry, agriculture, hunting and fishing (42.3 per 100,000); building (38.7 per 100,000); and mining (40 per 100,000).

Per capita COVID-19 mortality by industry (essential or non-essential), age group, sex, and highest level of education, United States (46 states), 2020.

Per capita COVID-19 mortality by industry (essential or non-essential), age group, sex, and highest level of education, United States (46 states), 2020.

The per capita COVID-19 mortality of agricultural workers (essential workers) was 2.6 times higher than that of non-essential workers, representing an absolute gap of 25.8 per 100,000. Other essential occupations with high per capita mortality due to COVID-19 were: construction workers (107.4 per 100,000); chefs and chefs (104.7 per 100,000); clergy (83 per 100,000); sewing machine users (76.6 per 100,000); and printing operators (85.5 per 100,000).

Additionally, a high number of COVID-19 deaths have been reported for occupations such as truck drivers and salespersons (2,299); building cleaners and janitors (1,426); registered nurses (862); sellers (1,043); K-12 teachers (808); retail sales supervisors (900); frames (763); carpenters (565); cleaners and servants (660); and orderlies (659). However, these occupations were not among the top 25 occupations with the highest age-standardized per capita COVID-19 mortality.

Per capita mortality from COVID-19 was higher among essential workers of all ages. For both groups, it had a linear relationship with the age of the individual. This indicates that essential workers of any age were more prone to severe COVID-19 than workers in non-essential sectors and across ages the risk of death from COVID-19 was highest among older people.

Per capita COVID-19 mortality of essential workers and workers in non-essential sectors was highest for the 45-49 age group (2.1). However, the differences in per capita COVID-19-related mortality between the two types of workers were largest in the 60-64 age group (67.2). This indicates that most occupational deaths related to COVID-19 have been seen in 45 to 49 year olds. However, overall, the population over the age of 60 was the most prone to death from COVID-19.

When stratifying by race, Hispanic essential workers and non-Hispanic black people were at greater risk of COVID-19 mortality. Gender did not have a significant impact on per capita mortality from COVID-19.

Overall, the study results were commensurate with those of the California study and indicated that a higher degree of protection against COVID-19 should be provided to essential workers with adequate ventilation at the workplace. work. The authors also believed that increasing paid sick leave and decreasing overcrowding would reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behaviors, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

Michael A. Bynum