How to Reduce Your COVID-19 Risk During Your Daily Work Commute
As businesses begin to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re faced with the challenge of finding new ways to operate to keep their employees safe.
To assist businesses with this process, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a set of guidelinesTrusted Source for employers.
These guidelines include recommendations for how employees can best stay safe while commuting to and from their jobs.
In particular, the CDC recommends traveling either alone or with someone you live with whenever possible.
Solo commuting is the safest option
The CDC’s latest guidance suggests that avoiding public transportation is your best bet when it comes to preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Their guidance uses biking, walking, and driving your own personal vehicle as examples of suggested ways to commute.
In order to get more people to avoid public transportation, the CDC suggests that employers should offer their workers incentives.
According to Brian Labus, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, subways, buses, and carpools are places where people remain in close contact for an extended period of time.
“If you don’t live with those people,” said Labus, “it obviously increases the risk of exposure to coronavirus. By commuting individually or only sharing a car with people you live with, you minimize your exposure to others and reduce your risk of disease.”
Controversy surrounding the recommendations
The CDC’s recommendation to travel alone has been somewhat controversial.
It has raised concerns about how it will affect the environment.
Some experts fear that this change in policy will promote heavy traffic congestion. It could also reverse gains that have been made in reducing carbon emissions.
Some groups have also expressed concerns that lower-income individuals and people of color might be at a disadvantage when it comes to following this guidance.
In response to the criticism, the CDC did soften the original language somewhat, adding the words “if feasible” to the relevant passage.
“Unfortunately,” said Henry F. Raymond, DrPH, MPH, associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health, “we can’t have it both ways. That is, we can’t minimize the potential for spread by encouraging mass transit.”
Regarding lower-income workers, Raymond noted that encouraging those who can afford to travel alone to do so will ultimately help those workers who are still forced to use public transportation.
Having fewer people using mass transit will give them a better chance of maintaining physical distance, he explained.
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