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More Hispanic workers were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in food processing and manufacturing plants and agriculture workplaces in the US last spring than workers of other races or ethnicities, a team led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday

A survey of meat and poultry plants and similar settings across the US found that nearly 73% of people diagnosed with coronavirus were Hispanic or Latino, 6.3% were Black and 4.1% were Asian or Pacific Islander. Yet Hispanics make up only 37% of the work force in these work places. 

This suggests “Hispanic or Latino, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander workers in these workplaces might be disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the researchers wrote in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Our study supports findings from prior reports that part of the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 among some racial and ethnic minority groups is likely related to occupational risk,” the team wrote.

The CDC examined information collected from state health departments about workers with confirmed Covid-19 in food processing and manufacturing plants and agricultural settings between March 1 and May 31.

They found reports on mass testing in US meat and poultry plants revealed widespread coronavirus outbreaks and found high numbers of asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections.

High-density workplaces can cause a higher risk for transmission of Covid-19, the researchers reported.

Only 36 states reported data and testing strategies varied by workplace so that influenced the number of cases detected, the CDC said. Workers hesitant to report illness could have led to an underestimation of cases.

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