Official Title
Keeping Rural Minority 'Essential' Workplaces Open Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Frequent Point-of-care Molecular Workplace Surveillance for Miners (Short Title: The Miners' Pandemic Project)
Brief Summary

The long-term goal of the study is to mitigate the spread of the pandemic in miners, a population of high-risk, rural essential workers who are susceptible and vulnerable to COVID-19, partly based on exposure to particulate air pollution, and who are predominantly racial/ethnic minorities in New Mexico (NM) (3, 11). The study objective is to provide proof-of-principle for frequent point-of-care molecular testing as a workplace surveillance tool to monitor and prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in this unique population. The central hypothesis is that frequent workplace molecular surveillance is an effective method to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection and discover novel host risk factors for the virus. The site of molecular surveillance (intervention site) will be a surface coal mine in McKinley County, NM, located just outside the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation, comprised of 66% minority miners. This site offers a unique opportunity for a community-based study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in this population. Miners at the intervention site will provide nasal swabs before beginning their work shift on alternate days that will be analyzed with a 'screening' molecular test (12). This test is ideal because it is low cost, simple, portable, point-of-care, rapid, and can be performed by minimally trained professionals in low-infrastructure settings. The control site is a similar coal mine in Campbell County, Wyoming (WY). Both mines, operated by the same company, have similar engineering, administrative, and personal protective measures in place. The rationale for this study is to establish the suitability of longitudinal molecular surveillance to prevent and control SARS-CoV-2 infection in this unique population by completing the following specific aims.

Detailed Description

Specific Aim 1: To determine the acceptance rate to frequent point-of-care molecular

workplace surveillance among miners.

Hypothesis 1: Miners will have a cumulative acceptance rate of frequent testing at ≥85%, with

the added objective of exploring difference in acceptance by miner characteristics.

Specific Aim 2: To determine the ability to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 by

point-of-care molecular workplace surveillance in a real-world setting of miners.

Hypothesis 2: The sensitivity of the screening test in a real-world study setting is a)

comparable to that described by others in controlled settings, and b) positively associated

with viral load in upper respiratory specimens (latter measured in nose and nasopharynx using

quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR).

Specific Aim 3: To determine the effectiveness and implementation costs of frequent

point-of-care molecular workplace surveillance on reducing incident infection rates of


Hypothesis 3A: Frequent point-of-care molecular testing over six months in the intervention

mine will result in lower incident seropositivity rates compared to the control mine.

Hypothesis 3B: Frequent point-of-care molecular surveillance in the intervention mine is

cost-effective compared to the control mine.

Specific Aim 4: To determine novel predictive host factors associated with incident

SARS-CoV-2 infection in miners.

Hypothesis 4: Miners with incident infection demonstrate less frequent use of cloth

face-coverings outside the workplace, greater mine dust exposure intensity, presence of

dust-related lung disease, and racial/ethnic minority status than those not infected.


Diagnostic Test: Quidel quickvue antigen test for COVID-19
rapid antigen test on nasal swab specimen for COVID-19
Intervention Site

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion Criteria: - Male or Female Miner employed at intervention mine or the control mine. - > 18 years of age. - Willing and able to provide and sign Informed Consent Form. - Willing and able to comply with study procedures.

Exclusion Criteria: - Unable or unwilling to provide and sign Informed Consent Form - < 18 years of age.

Eligibility Gender
Eligibility Age
Minimum: 18 Years
United States

University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87131


Investigator: Akshay Sood, MD
Contact: 505-272-4751

Investigator: Vanessa Garcia
Contact: 505-272-5501


Akshay Sood, MD

Aksay Sood, MD
Principal Investigator
University of New Mexico

University of New Mexico
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
NCT Number