This Job May Increase Your COVID-19 Risk Fivefold

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Grocery store cashier working in a mask and gloves
Aleksandar Malivuk /

If you work in a frontline position at a grocery store, your risk of contracting coronavirus is probably higher than you think.

In fact, employees with customer-facing roles are five times as likely to test positive for the virus as colleagues who work in other roles within the grocery store, according to a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Just as troubling, about 76% of those grocery workers who test positive have no symptoms and may unknowingly spread the virus to others.

In reaching their conclusions, researchers looked at 104 employees at one grocery store in Boston. In addition to testing for the coronavirus — which causes the disease COVID-19 — the employees were asked to fill out questionnaires for depression and anxiety.

Based on the mental health questionnaires, 24 workers reported at least mild anxiety, and eight workers were deemed to be mildly depressed.

According to the study authors:

“This is the first study to demonstrate the significant asymptomatic infection rate, exposure risks, and associated psychological distress of grocery retail essential workers during the pandemic.”

The study is the latest to zero in on the potential coronavirus risk some workers face. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released its list of the occupations with the highest COVID-19 risk. The jobs on the list were all concentrated in the health care industry. The top five were:

  • Dental hygienists
  • Respiratory therapy technicians
  • Dental assistants
  • General dentists
  • Orderlies (patient care assistants)

Wondering where you are at most at risk for coronavirus infection? It’s not the grocery store, as we detail in “This Is Where the Coronavirus Spreads Fastest.”

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