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Majority of Americans go to work sick

A new survey from getAbstract reflects ongoing predictions that the workplace may never look the same after the pandemic -- making it "almost impossible" to return to what is was before.  (Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — You probably know that the flu and other viruses spread through the workplace because people come to work sick. But a new survey shows just how many people are powering through illness and heading to the workplace.

Research from Accountemps, a Robert Half company, found that 9 out of 10 people go to work sick.

You read that right. Ninety percent of American workers have gone to work when feeling sick.

The survey included responses from 2,800 people over age 18 employed in office environments in 28 American cities.

As to why they went to work sick, most respondents said they had too much work to do to call in sick. The other most popular reason was that employees did not want to use their sick time.

And you may be able to power through your cold or flu symptoms at work, but an educator with the Utah Department of Health says those employees you work with, may not be so strong.

“If you are contagious,” Rebecca Ward told KSL Newsradio, “especially with something like the influenza virus, and you come to work sick, that’s not going to help the situation and you are possibly going to spread it to other people.”

Those other people may have an even worse reaction to the cold or flu virus than you had.

“The concern though is obviously making other people sick is a high likelihood anytime you go to work when you are feeling under the weather,” said Dr Nick Duncan, a family practice doctor at Intermountain Cottonwood Family Practice.

And it may feel empowering to plow through your workload even if you have a cold or the flu, but that can prolong the time it takes for you to get better.

Ward says that if you have cold or flu symptoms and feel good enough to work, one alternative is to work from home if your employer allows it.

Alternatively, Dr Duncan urges you to stay home and rest until your symptoms have dissipated.

“It’s good to say, I’m going to stay home and take care of myself, and try to rest and relax. Often times if people overdo it when they are sick, it’s just going to take longer to get better,” he said.

And then when you are back to feeling 100%, have plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes around the office.

(Simone Seikaly contributed to this story.)