Despite some people ditching their masks and returning to work, it’s not quite business as usual. COVID-19 cases are rising again. As of December 7, 2022, the current 7-day average of weekly new cases increased 49.6% compared with the previous 7-day average, according to the CDC's data. In fact, hospitalization rates have been trending up for weeks. Hospital admission rates are up over 10% from the previous week alone. It is reasonable given the trends that people would be more concerned, especially with new variants coming into play. With many people returning to the office, even if it’s only a few days a week, the workplace can be a hub for transmission. About 1 in 4 workers are still worried about COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, a recent poll from Gallup finds.
The Gallup poll shows that 26% of workers had concern about workplace transmission. Of this 26%, 6% state that they are “very” concerned, while 20% are “moderately” concerned. This figure is down slightly from the 33% figure they recorded in July 2022. A year ago, poll results showed that 36% of respondents were concerned. These findings come on the heels of many large companies instituting their return-to-office requirements.
Back in November, the poll found that almost two-thirds of employees (64%) said they expect COVID-19 infections in the U.S. to increase in the during fall and winter. Gallup suggests this may explain the ongoing concern about going into work. In total, 14% of workers expected infections to increase "a great deal" and 50% "a moderate amount.” Only 8% thought infections will decrease and 29% thought they would stay roughly the same.
Employees are not just nervous about exposure from work. The poll also found that nearly one in five employees had skipped going to events with large crowds in the last seven days. Nearly four in 10 report wearing a mask outside their home in the past seven days, as well.
Staff members that are worried about COVID transmission likely have genuine concerns. Flexible work options may help to alleviate some of the anxiety. At 31%, slightly more hybrid workers involved in the survey said they were concerned about workplace transmission. This could explain their reluctance to come back to the office full time. This is compared to 27% of on-site workers that are still worried about COVID transmission.
Source: Gallup, U.S. Employees' Concern About COVID-19 Exposure at Work, by Subgroup, https://news.gallup.com/poll/405377/one-four-workers-fear-catching-covid-work.aspx