COVID-19Infectious Diseases


In “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” cousin Eddie told Clark Griswold his “Jelly-of-the-month Club” Christmas “bonus” was “the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.” Well, COVID-19 is another “gift” that has kept on giving, but for almost three years. THREE YEARS! 

There continues to be an endless assortment of facts, data, and scenarios about the “gift” the Chinese gave us in 2019. There’s always a new wrinkle someone has discovered that keeps COVID-19 front and center in the public awareness. This time it has to do with “workers in the public transportation industry.”

Not too surprisingly, bus and urban transit workers were 5.2 times more likely to experience “workplace outbreaks” of COVID-19 than was the general worker population. Air transportation employees were 3.6 times more prone to COVID-19 outbreaks, while overall, “public transportation industries had about 1.4 times as many COVID-19 outbreaks as did all sectors combined.”

Mortality (death) among bus and transit workers was “1.8 times higher….than in all industries combined.” 

This information was derived from a study by the California Department of Public Health. The figures presented referred only to transportation industries based in California. They confirmed 340 workplace outbreaks, 5641 outbreak-associated cases of COVID-19, and 537 worker deaths. 

The study’s conclusion was “workers in public transportation industries are at higher risk for COVID-19 workplace outbreaks and mortality than the general worker population in California and should be prioritized for COVID-19 prevention strategies.”

Dr. G’s Opinion: This “gift” from COVID-19 shows just how generous this virus is. It never fails to attack the most vulnerable such as the elderly, the immunocompromised, healthcare workers, first responders, and now, public transportation workers—people who are trying to help others and are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I agree. All the folks I just mentioned should be the first to receive any form of prevention (vaccine, anti-viral drugs, monoclonal antibodies, etc.) available. This study confirms what common sense dictates, but is often denied.

Reference: News from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “ Bus and Urban Transit Workers Have Highest COVID-19 Risk.” JAMA 2022 September 27;328(12):1173.

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