COVID-19 mortality among Massachusetts workers and the association with telework ability, 2020.

Publication date: Mar 02, 2024

Working outside the home put some workers at risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) exposure and might partly explain elevated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mortality rates in the first months of the pandemic in certain groups of Massachusetts workers. To further investigate this premise, we examined COVID-19 mortality among Massachusetts workers, with a specific focus on telework ability based on occupation. COVID-19-associated deaths between January 1 and December 31, 2020 among Massachusetts residents aged 18-64 years were analyzed. Deaths were categorized into occupation-based quadrants (Q) of telework ability. Age-adjusted rates were calculated by key demographics, industry, occupation, and telework quadrant using American Community Survey workforce estimates as denominators. Rate ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals comparing rates for quadrants with workers unlikely able to telework (Q2, Q3, Q4) to that among those likely able to telework (Q1) were calculated. The overall age-adjusted COVID-19-associated mortality rate was 26. 4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Workers who were male, Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, born outside the US, and with lower than a high school education level experienced the highest rates among their respective demographic groups. The rate varied by industry, occupation and telework quadrant. RRs comparing Q2, Q3, and Q4 to Q1 were 0. 99 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0. 8-1. 2), 3. 2 (95% CI: 2. 6-3. 8) and 2. 5 (95% CI: 2. 0-3. 0), respectively. Findings suggest a positive association between working on-site and COVID-19-associated mortality. Work-related factors likely contributed to COVID-19 among Massachusetts workers and should be considered in future studies of COVID-19 and similar diseases.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus COVID-19
December epidemiology
Massachusetts Massachusetts
Residents occupational health


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
disease VO age
disease MESH education level
disease IDO site
disease MESH Long Covid

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