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NCFM Mr. Manners, THE NEGLECTED SIDE OF COVID              

May 21, 2021


In a “guest post” in “Psychology Today”, appearing on April 20th 2020, Dr. Warren Farrell published an article “The Gender Gap in Empathy.”  Farrell quoted John’s Hopkin’s Public Health Professor Sabra Klein, who stated that: “Being male is as much a risk factor for the coronavirus as being old.” Farrell observed, that while the high rate of elderly people dying from COVID received a lot of attention, male death from the virus did not. In an interview the following day, April 21, British writer and social commentator Douglas Murray observed, that at first, we heard COVID is worse for women. Then when it was pointed out that men were dying more, we heard: “well men may die in larger numbers, but it’s the women who suffer for that (See, Lockdown Diaries Douglas Murray you tube 55.30 to 55.46 minutes in).”

In fact, when the higher male death rate was discussed, some of the focus turned to a critique of male behavior using questionable reasoning. It was postulated that high male COVID death rates could be due to men’s unwillingness to wash their hands. That didn’t sound plausible to me at the time. In fact, as far as I know, there are still not any known cases of people getting the virus from touching surfaces. The April 2020 data was of course early information. In reality, while the gender death numbers vary around the world, the most recent evidence shows that overall men and women come down with the virus in close to equal numbers. However, of those contacting the virus, men die at about twice the rate of women (COVID Mortality Rates in Male Versus Females Cohen/2021/02/…).

There is in fact, a built-in bias against women with COVID. Since women generally live longer, there are more women at the ages where people are most likely to die of the virus. However, an in-depth study of 45 nations of people who came down with the virus that controlled for age, found: “Beginning with the 20-24 age group, men are about twice as likely to die as women from COVID (Infection Fatality Rates by Sex and Age Americanhttps://www. › news › 2020/11/18 › COVID). As the chart below shows, male death makes up three of the four most lethal age groups of those contacting the disease. Perhaps, it might have saved more lives, if male volatility to the virus was taken into account in the initial eligibility for the vaccination.

covid rates

What about the workforce and gender? The media has focused on the hardships of women who have left the workforce. Certainly, there are a number of issue worth attention in this regard. As far as couples, it has been strongly implied that if men are employed, they are the fortunate ones?  No doubt, many men would prefer not to be working at their jobs, even in the best of times. How many men during the COVID outbreak would prefer not to be employed, but are doing so since they earn the higher income in the family? How many choices of men being the ones employed, are because both heads of household had jobs with high COVID risks, but they agreed that the man should be the one to stay in the workforce?

In fact, while women make up the majority of those not seeking employment, of those seeking employment 20 years of age and older, the male unemployment rate has been trending a bit higher than female since October 2020. This has not been true of married couples however. Husband’s unemployment has been higher all through the pandemic, except in the last month shown, April 2021 where the numbers have equaled out. So most likely, many couples have decided it is more beneficial to their families for the man to be the one with gainful employment cpseea10. Unemployment rates by age, sex, and marital status…).

We have also learned from the news, that female workers were putting themselves at greater risk, because their jobs more frequently included work such as caregivers. However, thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, it was the meat packing professions where we learned about massive outbreaks. According to “The Conversation”, through July 21, 2020, “6 to 8% of all COVID cases and 3% -4% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S were tied to meat and poultry plants (…).

In an article from “The Economic Policy Institute”, Sept 24 2020, “Who are Americas Meat and Poultry Workers”, they reported the following demographics. In the top five meatpacking states, women accounted for 32.2% of meatpacking and 40.1. percent of poultry processors. As for more recent COVID related workplace death information, a preliminary study of the state of California found that Line Cooks had the highest death rate. As far as the gender makeup regarding Line Cooks: “32.8% of them are women, while 63.8% are men (https://www.zippia .com/line-cook-prep-cook-jobs/demographics).”  The jobs with the highest dead death rates according to the study were:

  1. Cooks
    2. Packaging and filing machine operators and tenders
    3. Miscellaneous agriculture workers
    4. Bakers 5. Construction laborers
    6. Production workers
    7. Sewing machine operators
    8. Shopping, receiving and traffic clerks
    9. Ground maintenance workers
    10. Customer service representatives

( January 25 2021).

We have heard about the dangers of the workforce, but not the fact that with it being disproportionally male, more men are at risk. Yes, for many, not holding a job is an issue, but so is holding a job during a pandemic. The higher risks encountered by many Blacks and Hispanics in and out of the workforce, have been discussed during the past year. However, it is men as a gender that have traditionally been the group with the highest risk group of injuries and workplace deaths, exceeding that of specific races or ethnic groups.

The male, female disparity has lessened some in the past years. Still, in 2019, men were 11.2 times more likely to die in the workforce than women {National Census of Fatal Occ). The percentage of female death at work, compared to men, is likely to have risen significantly in 2020. That being, because female COVID deaths in the workforce should be a great deal more than 11 times less than males. It’s been a bad year for all of us. Still, I would bet that male work place COVID deaths and illnesses will turn out to have been significantly higher than female.

Perhaps, a rise in women’s death and serious illnesses in the workforce, will lead to more concern for workplace safety overall.

national coalition for men
















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