According to a report by Forbes, an investigation by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News (KHN), which provided the most comprehensive portrait of the virus’s toll on health care workers to date and revealed a dire lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), found that 922 health care workers across the U.S. have died from coronavirus and its complications. This number includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, and critical support staff such as nursing home workers and hospital custodians.
The study, founded through crowdsourcing, compiled numbers and stories from social media, previous reports, online obituaries, and workers unions, allowed the Guardian and KHN to name, locate, and learn the exact circumstances for 167 deaths, finding that 38 percent were nurses.
Sixty-two percent of the deaths were minorities, with about one-third born outside the U.S, showing a disproportionate impact on minorities, who comprise just 38.8 percent of all frontline workers and immigrants (16.2 percent).
Although median age of coronavirus victims is 78, the median age among health care workers is 57, with 13 percent of total deaths under the age of 40 and five percent under 30, according to the investigation. In addition, eight health care workers in their 20s have died of COVID-19.
The U.S.’s lack of coordination on PPE became a major obstacle early on in the pandemic. Although some regions were overstocked with emergency materials, overflowing hospitals couldn’t receive the supplies needed to slow the virus’s spread.
This lack of PPE, combined with testing shortages and the White House’s refusal (until months into the pandemic) to publicly adhere to or encourage stringent social distancing measures and mask use likely contributed to the high death toll among emergency personnel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which offers its own tracker of COVID-19 health care fatalities, puts the death toll at 587. However, the CDC doesn’t list specific names, and confirmed its number is lower than the true total.