Line cooks, agriculture workers at highest risk of COVID-19 death: study

Essential workers in kitchens and in agricultural settings are most at risk of death from the coronavirus, according to a study that adds a new urgency to the race to vaccinate those on the front lines of the pandemic.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco, examined the occupations of those who have died in California since the beginning of 2016. In the past year, researchers found an especially high rate of excess mortality — the measure of how many people died over what might have been an ordinary period — among those who work in proximity to others.

Key results: Line cooks experienced the most substantial number of excess death in 2020, the study found, followed by agriculture workers, bakers and construction laborers. Those who work in delivery occupations — shipping clerks, truck operators and delivery drivers — also experienced higher rates of death last year.

The risk of death for those groups was between 30 and 60 percent greater than in an otherwise normal year, the study found. Deaths spiked especially in the months after California began reopening its economy.