Coronavirus numbers in Texas are swelling again as the state sees a resurgence in the virus. Workers in one industry in particular appear to be at higher risk, according to new research from the University of Texas at Austin.
Construction work – considered an essential industry during the lockdown – has been hard hit by the pandemic, with laborers experiencing higher rates of hospitalizations than folks working in other sectors.
“When we looked at the data comparing hospitalization rates between construction workers and individuals in other occupations, we found that construction workers were at about four to five times increased risk for being hospitalized compared to the rest of the population,” Spencer Fox, associate director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium said.
He said that’s likely because of the nature of the work, which makes it difficult for many COVID prevention practices to be followed correctly.
“When we started learning more about construction work, we learned that actually many activities that they do day to day involve very close quarters and multiple people working in a very tight and enclosed spot,” Fox said. “There’s many different types of construction work that happen. Some of those are indoors, some outdoors, but many of them involve, you know, inability to socially distance from each other.”
What’s more, many construction workers are Latino, a demographic group that has been particularly hard hit by the virus.
“There are are very strong, overlapping vulnerabilities in these populations and the construction workforce,” Fox said. “There’s over a million undocumented workers, 30 percent of construction workers are Latinx, which is actually 70 percent in the city of Austin. And so what we found was that this risk is exacerbating already known vulnerabilities in these populations.”