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Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among farmworkers in Monterey County, California

By Ana M. Mora, Joseph A Lewnard, Katherine Kogut, Stephen Rauch, Norma Morga, Samantha Hernandez, Marcus P Yong, Karen Huen, Cynthia Chang, Nicholas P. Jewell, Nina Holland, Eva Harris, Maximiliano Cuevas, Brenda Eskenazi

Posted 03 Feb 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.01.21250963

Importance: Essential workers in agriculture and food production have been severely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Objective: To identify risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 shedding and antibody response in farmworkers in California. Design: This cross-sectional study collected survey data and determined current SARS-CoV-2 shedding and seropositivity among 1,107 farmworkers in California's Salinas Valley from 16 July to 30 November 2020. Setting: Farmworkers receiving transcription-mediated amplification (TMA) tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection at federally qualified community clinics and community sites were invited to participate in our study. Participants: Individuals were eligible if they were not pregnant, were 18 years old or older, had conducted farm work since the pandemic started, and were proficient in English or Spanish. Exposures: Sociodemographic, household, community, and workplace characteristics. Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s): Current (as indicated by TMA positivity) and historical (as indicated by IgG seropositivity) SARS-CoV-2 infection. Results: Most farmworkers enrolled in the study were born in Mexico, had primary school or lower levels of educational attainment, and were overweight or obese. Current SARS-CoV-2 shedding was associated in multivariable analyses with attained only primary or lower educational levels (RR=1.32; 95% CI: 0.99-1.76), speaking an indigenous language at home (RR=1.30; 0.97-1.73), working in the fields (RR=1.60; 1.03-2.50), and exposure to known or suspected COVID-19 case at home (RR=2.98; 2.06-4.32) or in the workplace (RR=1.59; 1.18-2.14). Antibody detection was associated with residential exposures including living in crowded housing (RR=1.23; 0.98-1.53), with children (RR=1.40; 1.1-1.76) or unrelated roommates (RR=1.40; 1.19-1.64), and with a known or suspected COVID-19 case (RR=1.59; 1.13-2.24). Those who were obese (RR=1.65; 1.01-2.70) or diabetic (RR=1.31; 0.98-1.75) were also more likely to be seropositive. Farmworkers who lived in rural areas other than Greenfield (RR=0.58; 0.47-0.71), worked indoors (RR=0.68; 0.61-0.77), or whose employer provided them with information on how to protect themselves at work (RR=0.59; 0.40-0.86) had lower risk of prior infection.

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