Report: Utah minorities hit harder by workplace outbreaks

Protesters gathered at the Historic Courthouse to get JBS to close and sanitize the Hrum meat packing facility.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hispanic and non-white people in Utah were disproportionately hit by workplace COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday.

From March to early June, 12% of the state’s coronavirus cases were tied to workplace outbreaks, mostly in manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade. The report found that 73% of the cases in these outbreaks were Hispanic or other non-white people, even though they only make up 24% of the workers in those industries.

The report noted that non-white workers typically have less flexible work schedules and fewer telework opportunities compared to white employees. That lack of flexibility along with unpaid sick leave policies may prevent workers from staying home when they’re ill, resulting in more workplace exposures and increased virus spread.

These racial disparities in work-related outbreaks in Utah are similar to those seen in meat processing facility outbreaks in other states, according to the report.

The CDC report recommended that employers ensure that opportunities for paid sick leave and remote work are offered equitably to non-white workers to avoid potential outbreaks.

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Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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