Employees who regularly commute to work rather than work from home may be more likely to contract the novel coronavirus, according to a new study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency’s report, which interviewed 310 individuals in July, found that those who had tested positive for the coronavirus are nearly twice as likely to report commuting to the office on a regular basis in the two weeks prior to falling ill.
About half of the participants tested positive, and they were compared to a control group of people who tested negative. The majority of both groups, all adults, held full-time, non-essential jobs.
“Businesses and employers should promote alternative work site options, such as teleworking, where possible, to reduce exposures,” the report wrote, adding that “allowing and encouraging the option to work from home” is an important step to stop the further spread of the virus, which has already infected nearly 9.7 million Americans and killed 235,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
For Minneapolis resident Selena Shin, the study only reinforces the fact that she made the right decision in becoming a full-time freelance translator during the ongoing pandemic.
“I would definitely have a lot of anxiety if I had to go into the office every day,” the thirty-year-old told The National Interest.
Shin used to be employed at a textile-manufacturing company and often took public transportation to and from work.
“I really can’t see myself in that kind of confined space and potentially running across someone who might have the virus,” she said. “I don’t miss those bus rides at all.”
Edward Park, who is an energy trader at an electric utility company in the greater Seattle area, said that since he is categorized as an essential worker, he must do most of his work in the office.
“Fortunately, I do work a lot of night shifts, so there really aren’t that many people around,” the forty-three-year-old told TNI. “Most of the time, I really don’t think about the virus there.”
For Colin Hill, a senior data analyst at Allina Health, the pandemic is usually in the back of his mind, but he would still “rather work on-site to be able to communicate with co-workers in person.”
However, the “one huge positive about working remotely is that I am able to be more productive,” the thirty-five-year-old Eden Prairie, Minnesota, resident said.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.