A Majority of Americans Go to Work While Sick

Jul 22, 2016

Workers clean a closed Chipotle restaurant in Boston in December after customers became infected with norovirus.
Credit Suzanne Kreiter / Boston Globe/Getty

A majority of Americans say they still go to work even when they’re sick, reports South Dakota Public Radio. And this tendency can have a very negative effect on the nation’s public health at large. Over half of people who work in public places like hospitals and restaurants report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Many of these people work with food. Kirk Smith, who oversees foodborne outbreak investigations with the Minnesota Department of Health, says it's really hard to get people to stop doing it. “It's one of the biggest food safety problems that there is, and we've known about it forever,” Smith said.

One illness is more concerning than all the others: Norovirus. “It is by far the most common cause of foodborne illness,” said Smith.

Adults in low-paying jobs are more likely to go to work sick. But they’re not the only culprits. —About half of those in high-paying jobs do it, too.

The findings come from a poll conducted by NPR.