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Race and Economy

People of color more at risk of COVID-19 spread at work

Meghan McCarty Carino Dec 3, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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wagnerokasaki via Getty Images
Race and Economy

People of color more at risk of COVID-19 spread at work

Meghan McCarty Carino Dec 3, 2020
wagnerokasaki via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

With word Thursday that hospitalizations for COVID-19 have now surpassed 100,000, more than twice as high as the previous peak in the spring, there’s a new report on coronavirus and the workplace.

According to the Urban Institute, Black, Latinx and Native American workers are particularly vulnerable to infection on the job. Many are in industries considered essential, or work in service industries in states with fewer COVID-19 restrictions and cannot do their jobs from home. This report comes as the CDC is in the process of evaluating which groups should get vaccines before others.

More than half of Black, Latinx and Native American workers have jobs that put them at a greater risk of getting sick, said report author Lisa Dubay.

“That, likely, is part of the reason why you have much higher rates of cases for the same populations,” Dubay said.

That compares with about 40% of white workers whose jobs put them at risk. Dubay also found workers in the higher risk groups were more likely to lack health insurance, to depend on public transit and live in multigenerational housing. Those factors increase the risk of disease spread.

Dr. Helene Gayle, one of the co-chairs of a scientific committee providing guidance to the CDC, said all of these factors must be taken into account when deciding how to distribute vaccines.

“Doing it in a way that really does look at who’s at greatest risk, who’s most vulnerable, who’s most likely to develop severe disease,” Gayle said.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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