New data reveals which work sectors are being hit the hardest by COVID-19 | KOB 4

New data reveals which work sectors are being hit the hardest by COVID-19

Nathan O'Neal
Updated: July 07, 2020 08:06 AM
Created: July 06, 2020 05:47 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New state data reveals which work sectors are being hit the hardest with COVID-19.

When essential workers test positive for COVID-19, the state environment department launches a rapid response investigation.


“We are inundated with the number of positive cases that are out there,” said James Kenney, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department.

Food industries make up about 17% of the rapid responses followed by health care and retail.

“The population of restaurant workers tends to be the 20-something year olds or younger. There tends to be more people in that industry living paycheck to paycheck and therefore when you're not feeling well they still realize they have to go into work,” Kenney said.

The state has laid out guidelines if an employee tests positive:

  • cease operations temporarily
  • test all employees
  • commit to re-testing employees at a later time
  • disinfect workplaces
  • implement a safety plan

“What we're finding is that most employers are very willing to work with us to make sure that the rest of their employees are safe and that the spread of the infection doesn't go beyond the one or few employees identified,” said Sandra Ely, division direction of the New Mexico Environment Department.

The state has seen a dramatic rise in rapid responses week after week.

“So we've gone from 30 to 70 to 165 in the course of three weeks— that's very troubling,” Kenney said.”

“It's important for the public to realize that the environment department is out there conducting investigations to ensure that the spread of COVID is as controlled and the transmission of it is being prevented in those essential businesses that are open,” he added.

The state environment department is also handling complaints like issues of employers failing to be transparent and failing to follow COVID safe guidelines.

To file a report of noncompliance, click here.


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