COVID-19 Risk Factors, Broken Down by Occupation


An examination of COVID-19 infections by occupation found that most cases occurred in people who worked in management and healthcare, and COVID-19 death rates were highest among building/grounds cleaning and maintenance employees.

A study recently presented today at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Conference 2022 (SHEA) was one of the first to use hospital records to examine COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths by occupation. To fill what they saw as a gap in data, the investigators utilized hospitalization data from a large, rural community hospital in Southern California

The retrospective cross-sectional study analyzed COVID-19 patients from March 1-July 31, 2020. The investigators, led by study presenter Theressa U. Perez, MPH, examined demographic characteristics of patients positive for COVID-19, including age, sex, race, ethnicity, and length of stay. They also took epidemiological risk factors into consideration, such as smoking status, Body Mass Index (BMI), alcohol consumption, and occupation.

Occupational data was processed with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System. Excluded from the study were COVID-19 patients classified as homemakers, disabled/retired, students/minors, and those with insufficient employment information. The occupations were divided into 23 major groups, based upon the 2018 Standard Occupation Classification System. The investigators stratified the occupational categories by number of cases to determine whether certain occupations were at greater risk of COVID-19 infection.

During the March 1-July 2021 study period, a total of 2132 COVID-19 cases and 1049 hospitalizations were recorded. Most diagnoses occurred in the 50–64-year age group, white race, and/or Hispanic ethnicity. The majority of COVID-19 patients never or rarely drank alcohol, did not smoke, and had a BMI of at least 30. Average length of stay among those hospitalized with COVID-19 was 6.46 days.

Broken down by occupation, most COVID-19 infections occurred among people in management (14%; n=95) and healthcare (12%; n=83). The occupations with the highest rates of hospitalization were management (14%; n=40) and sales (10%; n=29). The highest rate of death occurred among those who worked in building/grounds cleaning and maintenance (13%).

The study consisted of a rural, aging population. These results merit further exploration into potential health disparities of severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths across different occupations.

The study, “Epidemiologic Risk Factors and Occupation Analysis of COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths, Southern California, 2020,” was presented on April 12 during the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Conference 2022 (SHEA).

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