Working in an office may double COVID-19 risks


(WKRN) — Working in an office instead of going remote can double your chances of getting coronavirus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers with the CDC interviewed around 300 people who took a COVID-19 test in July. They found workers who tested positive for COVID-19 were almost twice as likely to report regularly commuting to work, compared with the employees who tested negative.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, head of Nashville’s Metro Coronavirus Task Force, said the report is no real surprise.

“That’s why we had safer at home orders and that’s why we have kind of a gradually reopening,” explained Jahangir.

Don’t let your guard down if you do have to go to an office, he said wear masks and space out six feet apart. He also pointed to breakrooms and bathrooms being higher risks.

“What we are seeing in Nashville is a majority of spreads happens in people’s households and the number two place it gets spread are at workplaces,” said Jahangir.

Over 30 percent of the spread in Davidson County, Jahangir said, comes from someone in your household that’s been around others. He advises that if you can work from home to do so.

“If you can run a presidential campaign essentially virtually and you can do a newscast a lot of times virtually, which you guys have done an amazing job, and I’ve learned from. I can’t do surgery virtually yet so that’s why I’m at work today, but there is a lot of stuff even in healthcare that we are starting to do virtual,” said Jahangir.

Many businesses in Music City have shifted and adapted to a new way of working and he said it has helped.

“I’m really proud of what Nashville has done. You know over the past nine months we have gone from being the worst county in the state for disease activity to 50th or maybe even better than that today in disease activity,” said Jahangir.

He hopes the new report serves as a reminder to stay mindful if you must get out.

“This message transcends just work. When you go to your family’s functions very soon there are family members who you haven’t seen in a while. You don’t know where they have been, you don’t know if they are likely to have the disease, so we need to keep our guard up. (It) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, just means you have to be very careful,” said Jahangir.

Dr, Jahangir added that we will likely continue seeing more businesses adjusting to working from home and that it will last well beyond COVID-19.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

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